Monday, 23 March 2020

COVID-19 - Southern Sandstone - Update



Crag/Rocks - Closed
Campsite - Closed
Toilet Facilities - Closed
Carpark - Closed

Crag/Rocks - Closed

Bowles Rocks - Closed

Do not - Travel unless it's essential.
Do not - Go climbing or hill walking. 
Avoid - All but essential contact with anyone.

Do - Keep a social distancing of 2 meters at all times.
Do - Stay local.

BMC Statement
The BMC advice to all climbers and hill walkers is now simple: climbing and hill walking are not activities requiring essential travel. Stay local, and put your climbing and hillwalking on hold. This applies to all types of climbing and mountain activities, from bouldering to ski mountaineering.
More information from the BMC article can be found here.

SSC Statement 
It’s been a fairly big eye opener this weekend for COVID-19 self-isolation methods. The fantasy that the crags would be quiet were destroyed with overcrowding on the crags, roads, small villages and towns close to them.  

Regrettably this has meant that social distancing for these recreational activities has fallen flat on its face. 

With the current situation, climbing communities across the world are pulling together to help stop the spread of this virus. Indoor walls have closed and those wanting to venture outside are now taking a stand to help promote the stay at home policy. 

There has understandably been discussions concerning southern sandstone and access to the rocks in recent days to help control the potential spread. Now we ask all climbers to stay at home. This item will be used for updates for all access for COVID-19.

UKClimbing Statement
"Though the weather is finally fine, and we feel the urge to get out as much as anyone, we at UKClimbing believe that all climbing should now cease, and we will be promoting that message loud and clear". 

UKC Logbooks - Restriction
The following information is now being published on all UK logbooks

"Due to the ongoing spread of Covid-19, please abstain from climbing outside.

At UKC we are all climbers and we understand the strong urge to be outdoors as the weather is finally improving, but we feel this is no longer socially acceptable. You can read our statement here.

We have suspended the UKC Logbooks Top Ascents and Conditions pages and we will no longer accept ascents dated from 23rd March onwards. You can still upload your historic ascents.

UKClimbing Team"

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Harrison's Rocks Campsite - Closed (Covid-19)

The Harrison's Rocks campsite was due to re-open on the 1st April 2020 but will now remain closed until further notice due to advice given concerning the implications of Covid-19. 

Kate Harris of the Forestry Commission noted the following:

"We had been working on the basis that the campsite would reopen of the 1st April.  In light of recent developments however, and to ensure that we are meeting guidance regarding social distancing, I have been instructed to keep the campsite shut."

However, the Forestry Commission are still planning to have the car park open for the longer summer hours as of the 1st April even if the campsite is closed. This also includes the toilet facilities which are open.

The proposed gate closures for the summer months will be 10pm as of the 1st April 2020. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Volunteers Needed - Clearance Work at Stone Farm Rocks on Sat 14th & Sun 15th March 2020

Photo by Daimon Beail

The BMC is seeking volunteers to help with clearance work at the BMC-owned and managed Stone Farm Rocks on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March 2020.

As part of the BMC's Stone Farm Rocks Management Plan (agreed by Natural England), a number of trees are being felled on 28th February. Harrison’s Rocks Management Group (HRMG) have asked for help with the clearance of arisings, building revetments, blocking off unwanted footpaths and associated work. Consequently, there is plenty to be done and a good turnout would be very much appreciated.

When and Where?
Meet at the main entrance to the Rocks, below the Inaccessible Boulder at 09:30 on each day where there will be a full briefing explaining what work is to be done, where the work is and giving a full safety briefing. The last part is important and particularly so for those who may join later. If that applies to you, please find the person in charge before starting any work.

What to bring?
If you have a bowsaw, loppers or pruners etc. please bring them along, but there is plenty of work to be done that doesn’t require tools.

Please wear old clothes and boots, gardening gloves and waterproofs if it’s wet.
Bring a packed lunch and a drink.

Where to park?
Parking is limited and there is an overflow car park which is in the Rockfax guidebook for info.

First Aid and Medical Conditions
We will have a qualified first aider on site both days but if you have first aid qualifications, please let the day’s event co-ordinator know.

If you have a medical condition that we should know of, please inform the Event Co-ordinator or the first aider before starting work.

Please confirm your attendance on the BMC Facebook events page link here.

Friday, 7 February 2020

UKC - 2019 South East Roundup by Tom Gore

Tom Gore has recently released his 2019 round-up of the what's been happening in the climbing world in the south-east. Click here for the full story on UKC.

Remember that all new ascents are logged on the new routes page which has proved to be a valuable resource to many.  

In addition to the climbing update in this article, there has also been a significant about of work undertaken at Harrison's Rocks and Stone Farm which has been reported previously on this site. Check out the News Index or the HRMG page for links to other stories on this front. 

Monday, 27 January 2020

36 Volunteers at the BMC Harrison's Rocks Volunteering Weekend!

Photos - Bob Moulton and Christopher Stone

Saturday 18th January saw 29 awesome people head out to Harrison’s Rocks to undertake Volunteering work for the season ahead. Tim Skinner the HRMG coordinator had a plentiful list of work which needed doing including undertaking the tree felling clearance work from a few weeks previous. 

Climbers from all over the south east came along and contributed greatly with a fun and collaborative atmosphere felt by all. The amazing weather helped somewhat! 

Master chef Michael Phelan coordinated the work on the Sunday and 7 amazing volunteers came out to help conclude some of the work that was started on Saturday. 

The work undertaken is extremely valuable to help the rocks and environment remain maintained for climbers and walkers to enjoy. It also greatly helps erosion issues, which if left unchecked, can have significant consequences. 

It was a very successful weekend and all members of the HRMG are extremely grateful to all those who came out and volunteered and we would love to see you all again at the next volunteering weekend.
Photo - Christopher Stone
Photo - Christopher Stone

Photo - Christopher Stone

Photo - Christopher Stone

Friday, 3 January 2020

Volunteers Needed - Southern Sandstone BMC Clearance Weekend - 18th & 19th January 2020

The BMC are seeking volunteers to help with clearance work at Harrison's Rocks on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th January 2020.

The work will consist of clearing the arisings from recent tree cutting, moving the trunks to habitat piles or where they are required for revetment work and lining footpaths with the brash.

There will also be other work cutting back sycamore and other saplings that have re-grown in areas cut in previous years and any new or replacement revetment work that is required.

Consequently, there is plenty to be done and a good turnout would be very much appreciated.

All volunteers are to meet in the main car park at 9.30am. If you arrive late, please head on over to the rocks and ask for the coordinator. Please let the coordinator know if you have any first aid qualifications.

You can view the BMC facebook event here.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Future of the Open Meetings

The last open meeting held on the 21/10/2019 was extremely poorly attended and as such the previous proposal for a once a year meeting that was originally rejected is be reviewed again. 

It is expected that the next open meeting will not take place until September 2020 with ideas to have it as a more inclusive BMC meeting, which may attract more numbers. The decline in numbers is primarily due to the lack of interest in these kinds of forums, and feedback news and discussions generally now take place online. 

Despite this fact, a once a year meeting would still present an ample opportunity for people to feedback and discuss in person items both past present and future if they so wish. Further updates on this next meeting will be announced nearer the time.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Chimera Canterbury to Open on 29th November 2019 at 6pm

Beth Algieri (C) Chimera Climbing
Chimera's new climbing wall based in Canterbury is set to open on Friday 29th November 2019 at 6pm. This is Canterbury's first dedicated climbing centre which is on par with other bouldering centres of its kind. Although smaller than its bigger brother in Tunbridge wells, this wall is expected to be just as popular. 

Perhaps as an added bonus is the fact that the new Centre Manager will be none-other than Sheridan Bridal who brings over 30 years of indoor and outdoor climbing experience to the role. Sheridan who was a key part of the Mile End climbing wall team previously, also brings amongst other things, creative route setting skills.

Chimera says this about their new Wall:

"Our modern indoor bouldering centre offers a fresh and exciting climbing experience for people of all abilities.  The gym has a variety of different angled walls offering unique challenges, as well as a dedicated training area with campus boards, fingerboards and more.

Stock up on those climbing essentials – our in-house shop sells chalk, tape, and plenty more. If you are looking for a present, we offer gift vouchers too.

Hungry? Grab a snack from our fully licensed café or perhaps a well-earned drink after your session.  

Don’t forget – we organise outdoor rock climbing trips throughout the year so if you want to transfer those indoor skills to the local rock, let us know by checking out Chimera Outdoors."

For more information visit the Chimera - Canterbury website

Chimera Canterbury, 
Unit 1
22 Maynard Road

Situated ten minutes walk from Canterbury East train station.

The below photos courtesy of Chimera Climbing (c) are of the new wall in Canterbury and the dozens of new problems all waiting to be solved!

Monday, 21 October 2019

Bowles Rocks - Public Access Under Threat

The Bowles Rocks Trust is a non-profit making charity that supports children and young people to achieve their potential through outdoor education.  It should be seen as a privilege to climb at Bowles Rocks as it is on private land, with just a small fee to pay to climb there. However, like on any private land, there are rules to follow. The majority of climbers follow these rules, but some spoil it for the rest and on this occasion is threatening future public access.

Bowles have issued a statement concerning antisocial behaviour.

“Bowles are having issues with a minority of climbers. We are having increasing incidences of climbers not respecting that we are a charity for young people and will always have young children on site. The specifics are climbers that are coming into Bowles and taking part in antisocial activities, urinating in bushes and trees and allowing dogs to run loose and uncontrolled. These actions have caused huge problems with the school groups they have had in and are threatening their ability to provide a safe environment for the young people.

We are taking a number of actions, anyone suspected of antisocial activities will be reported to the police and CCTV and number plates will also be handed over. Anyone urinating in bushes will be permanently banned from using Bowles, as will repeated offenders who refuse to control their dogs.

If the issue continues, we will be forced to taking further action which could include (at its most extreme) banning climbing when we have groups in. As this would mean no climbing for about 90% of the year and only open during a few weeks in winter, this is not an action we would like to take. 

We hope that a stricter approach and help from the majority of respectful climbers, that this action will not be needed. Bowles would like to ask climbers to spread the word that the above behaviours are not acceptable.”

Bowles is amongst the three most popular climbing destinations in the south-east and the loss of access would be a huge blow to all. High Rocks still has no access and the effects have been felt across the sandstone climbing community.   

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Southern Sandstone Open Meeting - Sunday 20th October 2019

The next Southern Sandstone Meeting will be held on 
Sunday the 20th October 2019 
at the new time of: 


Bowles Rocks Outdoor Centre
The Lodge Bar
1st Floor (take the external stairs to the left side of the building)
Sandhill Lane

This is an opportunity to give feedback and ideas relating to all things Southern Sandstone.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Eridge Rocks - Update 2019 - New Climbing Restrictions.

Further to a site meeting with the Reserves Manager of Sussex Wildlife Trust, the BMC have agreed to ask climbers not to climb or boulder on Yew Crack Buttress (SSC Rockfax Guide Page 130 - 131) due to the increase in erosion. This covers climbs/boulder problems 'Yew Crack/The Leaf to 'Earthrise Surprise'.   Earthrise is not covered by this restriction but if there is damage increase then there will, unfortunately, be no option but to add this to the restrictions also. The below sign should now be in place at the Buttress.

Eridge has become a hot spot for bordering in recent years, primarily due to some of the access issues faced at High Rocks. Eridge is notoriously sandy in places and excessive brushing with prohibited items like bouldering brushes have caused damage to the rocks in certain places. It's vital that we (climbers) take action to ensure climbing at Eridge can continue. Ensure to follow the code of practice to the letter! Climbing at Eridge is a privilege and we need to ensure we can all continue to enjoy climbing and bouldering by protecting the rock. 

Climbing at Eridge was once banned and has only been permitted since 1997 thanks to the Sussex Wildlife Trust and BMC's access agreement.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Stone Farm - Update 2019

Recently there has been some work undertaken at Stone Farm. The first is the installation of new signs at the rocks. This is a refresh of key information with updates to bring things in line with the most recent code of practice. It is the first area to be updated and Harrison's will follow soon. 

If you look closley you will see new illustrations of the type of brushes permitted for use at the crag and some additional shots which you may have seen in the Rockfax guide. When the Rockfax guide was written, the new code of practice was being produced at the same time.  It was decided that it was a good idea for these images produced for the Rockfax guide, to also be used in the BMC publications on the subject. Now we're very happy to see additional photos being used as part of the new BMC notice boards which work very well. 
Please note: If you now see anyone doing something which is not permitted, kindly point them to the sign for further information.     

On Sunday 15 September 2019, The HRMG and Members of the East Grinstead climbing club got stuck into removing two very old tree stumps above Cat Wall and Pine Buttress (Rockfax Guide Page 456 and 457). They did an excellent job and both stumps have now been successfully removed. Clearance work like this is hard but rewarding work. The tree stumps in question had to be removed as they were rotten through. Reports afterwards noted that it was in fact easier to remove than anticipated, which shows how important it was that it was removed. 

Bolts will be installed at some point to replace the stumps which were used as anchors. The HRMG is also looking at other areas which could well benefit from bolts also.  

Friday, 13 September 2019

Stone Farm – Area Closure 15.09.2019

Maintenance work will be taking place this Sunday (15.09.2019) above Cat Wall and Pine Buttress at Stone Farm - (Rockfax Guide Page 456 and 457). 

This is while work begins on the removal of two tree stumps.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

ITV Report on Southern Sandstone

As part of ITV's 'Spirit of the South' series, Southern Sandstone has been featured.

You can watch the full film report here.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Volume 1 Climbing - A New Bouldering Centre in West Sussex

A new bouldering wall will be opening in Autumn 2019 near East Grinstead in West Sussex. This welcomed addition to the South East is brought to you by Director and Co-Founders Belinda Fuller and Ben Read.

Belinda is a member of the GB coaching team and will be responsible for ensuring that the highest standard of coaching will be available at Volume 1. Belinda also has an impressive resumé when it comes to climbing in the higher grades for bouldering and sport climbing, and has been running her business 'Be Climbing' for the last 7 years.

Ben has managed two climbing walls in the past, with an impressive resumé of Southern Sandstone ascents. Ben has a wealth of outdoor industry experience and previously co-authored the Sandstone bouldering guide.

Their aim is "to provide a modern, premium bouldering centre that is accessible and inclusive for everyone."

Situated in a 12,000 sqft building with over 550 sqm of bouldering surface, Volume 1 will be the largest dedicated bouldering centre in Surrey and Sussex.

Their website can be found here: