Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Southern Sandstone Open Meeting - Sunday 20th May 2018

The next Southern Sandstone Open Meeting is this Sunday 20th May 2018, 6.30pm at Bowles Rocks (in the upstairs bar). The BMC will be providing some sandwiches and snacks. Please bring your own drinks.
Bowles Rocks Outdoor Centre
Sandhill Lane
Eridge Green
Tunbridge Wells
The Sandstone Open Meetings offer the chance to have your say on Southern Sandstone climbing and management issues. This might, for example, range from access issues, top-roping and other ethical issues, erosion of crags, repair of crags, bolting issues, use of chalk, groups using the rocks, bouldering issues. This meeting is open to all climbers.
You can access the previous meetings minutes on our 'Meetings' Page.

Monday, 30 April 2018


Please be advised that bolts have been placed without prior consent in the Happy Valley area. The placements of these bolts (six currently) are dangerous and deemed an act of vandalism. It is suspected that these bolts are not suitable for use in sandstone and are prone to failure i.e. they are only 210mm long (too short for modern sandstone bolting methods) and not backed up. Please do not use.

If anyone has any information as to who has placed these bolts, please contact us on Facebook or email the BMC access@thebmc.co.uk

It is not unheard of that crags in the southeast have been banned in the past and we need to ensure relations with land owners are positively maintained.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Cub Arete - f7B - Toad Rocks

Tom Gore has dispatched a new problem at Toad Rocks called Cub Arete. Graded at font 7B it takes the arete right of The Lion's Crack RF Page: 412 (without using the ledges to the left). Tom notes that it's a "big move onto poor slopers at the top" Go take a look and at other problems at Toad Rock, which are curently only found in the Rockfax Guide.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Climbing Areas Page - Major Refresh!

For the past few weeks, we have been giving those on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels a sneak peek at our new area pages. With the new Rockfax guide now out we felt that the old area page style needed a reboot. In our view, it seemed pretty obvious that dedicated pages for each area was the way forward, and would allow for more information to be presented and give us the opportunity to display more area photos for those that may have not been to the crags. This also ties nicely into the new Rockfax guide, as some areas are now exclusively available in that guide, such as Mount Edgcumbe and Toad Rocks.

The pages primarily focus on a basic description of the crag and looks at any access issues, like getting to the crag, or items of interest at the crag, such as Isolated Buttress access. Also, there is info on toilet facilities and parking.

We have highlighted the code of practice at each venue with a link to that page.  

The new climbing area page is a much cleaner and simpler design which links to all of these new dedicated pages. 

If you have any updates you wish to be added or think should be there, then drop us a message on our Facebook page

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sneak Peeks

Take a look and like our Facebook page this week as we give a sneak peek at our new climbing ‘venue’ pages launching later this month. The launch of these pages will be complemented by our new ‘climbing areas page’ also launching later this month.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Clearance Work - Crucifix Wall

After the clearance
For information: Additional clearance work took place above the ‘Crucifix Wall’ area at Harrison's Rocks (P259 - RF SSC Guide) on the 18.02.2018. 

This continues the work started last year above the left side of ‘Wanderfall’ (P260 - RF SSC Guide) whereby significant amounts of earth and overgrowth were removed. This also included an unstable tree just left of ‘Don Juander’. The work is aimed at reclaiming the top of this area of rock from years of overgrowth and earth build up. The work is hoped to move rightwards at some point towards The Scoop Area. 

The general aim is to create better climbing environments to help climbers explore more of the climbs in this area and relieve potential overuse and overcrowding down by the Unclimbed Wall. 

Work like this took place a few years ago on Kukri Wall (P176 - RF SSC Guide), Kirby’s Adventures Area (P177 - RF SSC Guide), Eyelet Wall (P178 - RF SSC Guide) and Fang Wall, of which the latter was unrecognisable at the time. 

Work is still needed in these areas and over time it is hoped that some of these areas such as Kukri Wall and Fang Wall will become more appealing. Further work is planned to help reactivate a number of lost areas.

Please allow time for the area above Crucifix Wall to naturally clear itself (i.e rain is needed to clear the excess soil away and the soil below to settle).  

If you are interested in clearing overgrown crags owned by the BMC, please get in touch with us via our Southern Sandstone Climbs Facebook page and we can put you in contact with the relevant people. Alternatively, contact access@thebmc.co.uk

Thank you.
Before the clearance

Thursday, 15 February 2018

New SSC Guidebook Info Page - See What's New!

A new guidebook info page has been put together to give people a better idea of what's new and different about this new sandstone guide. It may also tip you into getting involved and purchasing a copy! 

We have gone into quite some detail, so take a look at what's new, including access to reviews and chapter samples!
Click here.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

First Ascent - Narrenturn f7b+ - Eridge Rocks

Here's a video some of you may not have seen of Peter Wycislik making the first ascent of his new highball problem Narrenturn f7b+ at Eridge Rocks at the later end of last year. Remember to add your ascents to the UKC Logbooks and drop us a message on the FB page so we can add them to the new routes page also.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Respect the Rock - Groups on Southern Sandstone

2018 will continue to see an increased number of groups lead by instructors, heading out onto the popular sandstone outcrops, especialy at Harrison's Rocks. Many of these instructors lead by good examples of how to respect the rock by limiting climbing to certain areas, using climbing shoes along with towles and carpets to clean them. But some groups and individuals do not...

Shoes must be cleaned before starting up any climb to minimize erosion and to help climb the rock better. Beginners tend to not to use their feet very precisely so dirty sandy feet that scuffle along the rock, grate against the surface and erode it very rapidly. This erosion is hard to repair and will reveal the sandy under-layer which will require significant repair work and time.

So the simple solution to this big problem is to have a small piece of carpet to wipe feet on before climbing and to use a towel to make climbing shoes squeaky clean!

The BMC in collaboration with UKC have begun a Respect the Rock campaign. This includes the production of small beer mat style towles and is proving very popular, so there is no excuse for all climbers on sandstone not to have a towel now!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Isolated Buttress - The Decision

It’s been over 3 years since the step across boulder to the isolated buttress at Harrisons's Rocks was removed.

In that time the HRMG has been involved in a very complex and difficult process of decision making that included a large amount of research, reporting, surveying, periods of observation, gathering feedback from the climbing community and also analysing the impacts for the long term. 

In the end, the decision comes down to the HRMG, a group of passionate and dedicated individuals who volunteer much of their time to manage the rocks and the environment. They ensure Harrison’s Rocks is protected and climbers of today and tomorrow can enjoy the climbing on offer in this unique climbing venue.

On Wednesday 13th December 2017 the final meeting was held to deliver the final decision, which all members would back despite their views. After many hours of discussions, statements, reviewing evidence from all angles and legalities of what can and cannot be done by the BMC, the HRMG took the decision to install a bridge to the Isolated Buttress at Harrison’s Rocks.

This is a decision that all HRMG members will support with the backing of the BMC. Work will commence on the bridge early in 2018.

The BMC has released a statement concerning the decisions and can be found here.

(Update) UKC News'Following on from this decision, Alan James announced that Rockfax would like to offer financial support to the project from the proceeds of the new Southern Sandstone guidebook.' The UKC article including more information on this, can be found here

(Update 2) Rockfax Access Blog - read the Rockfax Access and Bolt Fund Donations 2017 - blog post including information on the 'Harrison's Bridge Project' here.

South East Round-up 2017 by Tom Gore - UKC News

Tom Gore's yearly round-up is now up on UKC.  Check out what's been happening on the front line of development regarding Southern Sandstone. 

Click here for the full story.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Southern Sandstone Climbs - 2017

Simona Koplin who features on the front cover of the new Southern Sandstone Rockfax Guide 
Its been a ridiculously busy year! Especially so with the release of the new Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guidebook in September. Many people received their copies throughout September and October and many more have ordered theirs for Christmas. Special thanks once again to everyone who was involved in the new guide and helped make the book possible, no matter how big or small your contribution. The picture opposite is of Simona Koplin who was photographed for the front cover as well as inside the guide.  A full review of the guide by Tom Gore can be found here, as well as the book featuring as part of UKC's Rob Greenwood's christmas reading recomendations.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past year, by sharing news stories and reaching out to us. In addition, we would like to thank everyone who has been out on the rocks supporting the HRMG / BMC and SVG at crag and woodland management clear-ups this year.

A big thank you to everyone who has been going the extra mile to help protect the rock whilst out climbing by following that all important code of practice! It's important and please help spread the word where possible. 

Very soon we will see the conclusion to the Isolated Buttress big question and I'm sure many of you will be out next year exploring and enjoying sandstone, just make sure its dry enough before venturing out!  

We are also going to be making some changes to the website by expanding a number of items to help create a better and more informative experience. 

Cheers and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The SSC Team

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Harrison's Rocks - Winter Conservation Work Weekend 2017

A big thank you to all the volunteers who gave their time and effort last weekend at Harrison's Rocks...

The trees designated as section F of the woodland management plan were cut, opening up the area so more natural light and air can reach the crag. New paths were built, wildlife habits were created, and crags were cleared. Unclimbed Wall area was strimmed and the Wanderfall section had the overgrown top-outs dealt with, paving way for better and drier conditions in that area.

If you are interested in future volunteering, contact the Sandstone Volunteering Group.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sandstone Volunteers' Group - Winter Conservation Work - 11th & 12th November 2017

The Sandstone Volunteers’ Group and HRMG would like your help with the planned work at Harrison’s Rocks on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November 2017.

Work will include clearing the arisings from the cuttings, moving trunks to habitat piles or where they are required for revetment work and lining footpaths with brash.

Other work includes cutting back sycamore and birch saplings that have re-grown in areas cut in previous years. Bowsaws, loppers, pruners will all come in handy.

The plan is to meet at Harrison's car park at 9.30am. If you cannot get there that early then head to compartment F shown on the map, which is more commonly known as Unclimbed Wall Area.

Wear warm old clothing that you do not mind getting dirty, waterproof boots, gardening gloves and bring any cutting or digging tools you may have.

If you can attend, please email Graham Adcock (SVG Co-ordinator) on adcock@clara.net

The SVG will also be carrying out some work at Bull’s Hollow and most likely High Rocks.
There may well be other initiatives – watch this space.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Harrison's Camping At Risk

Paying for parking and camping was all part of the deal when the Forestry Commission took over the management of the toilet block, car park and camping at Harrison’s Rocks. A few years back when it was first announced that the toilet block was to be closed and then potentially demolished, there was an uproar from the south-east climbing community. Without the toilet facilities the campsite could not stay open.

The Forestry Commission agreed that the money raised from the parking fees and camping, would go towards the upkeep of the facilities which the climbing community fought so hard to keep.

It has been noticed that some visitors have not been paying for their camping. They may have a valid yearly parking ‘discovery pass’, which allows them to park in the car park, but as soon as they stay overnight, it is deemed as camping, so a camping charge is needed to be paid at the machine.

The upkeep of the camping is important and costly, mainly due to the facilities used by visitors staying over night; water and electricity from the toilet block usage are costly for the Forestry Commission, as well as regular refuse pick-ups from the large bin in the car park. Please take all this into consideration when staying at Harrison’s. With the Forestry Commission’s budget already stretched, all visitors need to pay in order to secure the future of the facilities. If people continue not to pay for camping in 2018 then there is a very strong risk that the campsite and potentialy certain aspects of the facilities, will close.

So easily forgotten, the long discussions regarding the fate of the toilet block and camping. Read the old stories here:

17/04/2015    Facilities are now open at Harrison's (Campsite opening soon)

27/03/2015    Birchden Wood - Harrisons Rocks Facilities Update

29/10/2014    Harrison's Rocks Car Park & Facilities Decision

14/04/2014    Harrison's Rocks Toilets and Campsite Now Open

18/03/2014    Update - Harrison's facilities to open in March 2014

12/12/2013    Submit your idea for Harrison's Facilities

13/11/2013    Latest News - Harrison's Toilet Block to be Refurbished

21/10/2013    Petition for Harrison's Rocks toilet block and campsite

09/07/2013    Closure of Harrison's Campsite and Toilet Facilities