Tuesday 16 September 2014

Serious Access Concerns at High Rocks

It seems High Rocks are once again reviewing their access situation for climbers. High Rocks is situated on private land and previously a daily entrance fee of £10 or a season ticket was required.

In the past there have been problems with the fence being cut and people breaking in without paying. How regular this really was and whether it is actually climbers, are of course unknown, and many view this as being highly unlikely.

High Rocks have now stopped issuing annual tickets pending a review on how they want to manage climbers going forward. Therefore they have stopped selling season tickets and are presently charging £5 for entry.

High Rocks is a wedding venue and this is foremost in the owners mind. This review is due to a combination of factors including climbers’ failure to move away discreetly on request for wedding parties, false names being added in the sign-in book and the fence break-ins (which are not proven to be climbers).

On the plus side it has been reported that staff have had no general problems from climbers for some time and most have been cooperative when challenged and have reacted politely.

It is the general view that climbers at High Rocks need to help with ‘policing’ themselves and others, in a continued effort to ensure everyone is using the venue correctly. Climbers are urged to be encouraging and cooperative towards staff when they check season tickets in the grounds and at sign-in.

It would also be potentially beneficial to the owners to have a more rigorous ticket inspection system in place for all visitors, both climbers and people viewing the rocks. The issues may largely go away if climbers would become used to being asked for proof on a regular basis and those who wanted to avoid paying would be challenged and dealt with successfully.

One idea would be to make climbers aware they are not to climb in the Nemesis area at popular times when weddings are taking place. This may alleviate some of the frustration between owner and climbers.

It doesn’t sound as if climbing will be banned, but the idea of joining a ‘club’ to be able to climb on the rocks has been put on the table, but it is not known if this will differ much from the season ticket membership already in place.

Users of High Rocks MUST be incredibly proactive now regarding consideration for weddings, visitors and ensuring payment and signing-ins are done correctly. There is no excuse and if things go south, High Rocks could see major restrictions put in place which could jeopardise climbing at a significantly important climbing area that has been enjoyed for many years.

Key members of the climbing community as well as members of the HRMG and BMC are in close talks to try to resolve the situation and help devise a plan to maintain access to the rocks for all climbers willing to abide by the rules and accommodate the requests put in place by High Rocks.

Report by Emma Harrington