Saturday 8 May 2021

Sandstone Open Meeting - 11th May 2021 - Via Zoom

The next sandstone open meeting will be on the 11th of May 2021 at 19:00 via Zoom

You can now register here

Below is the update that will then be followed by an open forum discussion.

Overview Report


The format for these meetings is that we aim to limit the meeting to about one hour and we have no agenda. Instead, we have a 10-minute overview from HRMG/SVG to tell people what has happened since the last meeting. This is followed by about an hour of general discussion when any matter can be raised. Minutes are being taken of this meeting and will be available from the usual websites but they won't be on the agenda for the next meeting.

This meeting is being held online, because of Covid-19. However, in 2022 we hope to be having the Sandstone Festival organised by Chris Stone that was planned for 2020 but had to be postponed, which will include an open meeting.  Any thoughts on the future of these meetings will be welcome during the general discussion.

Please save any questions or comments on this for the general discussion part of the meeting. This is particularly important today as it's a long report! 


Further to the 1/9/20 Open Meeting when the problems caused by the relaxation of lockdown last summer, which were discussed at the meeting, similar problems have continued and some issues still remain to be fully resolved.


The restrictions introduced last summer autumn have in the main been observed and little further damage to the rocks has been reported and there were few incidents of bad practice and overcrowding  that occurred during the summer months. However parking problems at some of the outcrops have continued and in some cases there are access details to be resolved. The BMC’s Regional Access Database  (the RAD) and  the Southern Sandstone Climbs website will be updated regularly and it is important that all climbers are aware of and following the advice.

The Sandstone Code of Practice

As a result of the damage caused by climbing on wet rock last summer,  HRMG are proposing that the wording in the Code for wet rock be changed from:

 ‘Sandstone is softer when wet  and climbers must exercise caution by avoiding sharp or fragile holds and ensuring good footwork. if it is wet, why not embrace the opportunity to explore the wonderful cracks on chimneys on offers.'

to: ‘Avoid climbing on wet rock, it can cause irreversible damage.’ 

It is planned to reprint the Code of Practice to include this change.  Suggestions and comments are welcome as if agreed these could be included.

Harrison’s Rocks 

Harrison’s Rocks Management Group’s next meeting is on 18th May’

Access to the Isolated Buttress. As reported at last meeting. the Planning Application for the bridge was rejected by Wealden District Council, HRMG and the BMC’s Land Management Group are still considering what action to take next. 

Tree Felling of the next phase of the Woodland Management Plan, below the area from the Isolated Buttress and Hell Wall, took place in January. Due to lockdown restrictions we have been unable to run the usual BMC event to clear up after this but in fact the amount of work that needs to be done is considerably less than in previous years but there are a number of site jobs that need to be done under current regulations by volunteer teams in groups of 6 – HRMG will be considering this at their meeting. However, 21 young trees, including Rowan, various Cherry, Hornbeam and Rowan, have already been planted below the Rocks in late March in individual areas where the bracken had been cleared and these will be monitored to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by bracken. There are now only three areas left to be cut as part of the 13-year Woodland Management Plan. 

Resin/Shellac work: Graham Adcock, assisted by  Cess Dolding and Bryan Stevens continues to do this work at the Rocks. Eight full days were carried out last year and two days to date this year. Significant wear/damage on the bottom of climbs in the Rift area from bouldering with at least two chipped/improved holds identified. Many climbs along the length of the crag have been inspected and treated, including Niblick, Elementary, Bow Window, Isolated Buttress Climb and Boulder Bridge Route. There remains much to be done. Alternative treatments are under consideration for larger areas. 

Anchors. There has no progress recently as due to COVID but work on this will restart soon.

Access from Forge Farm: there has been an exchange of letters between the BMC and the owners of the bridleway, and although a reply to the BMC’s latest letter is still awaited from the owners, progress is being made in that the owners have stated that they do not want to restrict access by foot and the BMC have confirmed that it is not asking for vehicular access. Meanwhile, we asking climbers to please avoid parking in Forge Road.

Stone Farm

The work programme approved by Natural England was fully completed during the 2-year period specified as part of their agreement, although due to lockdown not as much resin work was undertaken in the second year as had been hoped for but this work will continue.

A burnt-out motorbike was discovered at the foot of the Rocks and early September; after contact with the various authorities, this was moved up to the bridleway by Michael Phelan and members of the East Grinstead CC, and then removed by a salvage company. In March fly-tipped material including asbestos in the parking area was reported, and a result of phone calls by Michael Phelan this was removed.

It is hoped that it will be possible to put in two sets of bolts above the Stone Farm Crack area in the near future. 


Loz Reading reports: ‘Bowles has done for minor resin work over the last year and is currently making plans for bringing the ground level back up in popular areas such as Fandango. Any thoughts and advice on this would be appreciated. Currently the access to Bowles is restricted. Our school bookings require a closed site due to Covid so (at the time of writing this email), we are only open when we don’t have school groups in. We update of website of the dates of when we are open.’ One of  Bowles’s neighbours is applying for a alcohol license and currently has a temporary license which is causing them issues with people coming onto the Bowles site. This could lead to fencing in whole site and tighter access restrictions than at present.

Eridge Green

A site meeting was held in October with the new Sussex Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager to discuss the extensive damage was done to the Rocks last summer. He agreed to look into to our request for us to apply surface-hardening treatment only on the worn holds despite the SWT’s known concerns of the effect that it could have on the growth of mosses and lichens on the rock. The SWT officer has expressed an interest in looking at the work that has been done at Harrison’s and now that this work has restarted this year we hope that this can be arranged in the near future. We hope to arrange a site meeting at Harrison’s to show SWT the use of resin in early May and then to discuss the matter further. Meanwhile the BMC’s agreed voluntary suspension of climbing at the Rocks will remain in place. 

High Rocks

Limited climbing is now permitted at High Rocks. However, to avoid further problems it is important that all climbers should be aware of and follow the advice now on the BMC RAD or Southern Sandstone Climbs. 

Under Rockes

Due to problems with parking and to complaints made this by the owner of the private land over which the approach is made, it was decided to suspend climbing until 12/4/21. We now understand that three land owners own the approach path and the rocks themselves. Contact has been made with the owners of the initial approach path and following these discussions the current strong advice is: do not park your car on the land in front of or opposite Twitts Ghyll and not within 200m of the house. There is room for a few cars 350m south of Twitts Ghyll at the junction with Dennis Lane. If this is full, please park elsewhere and walk in or consider climbing elsewhere. The situation is very sensitive Full details, which may be updated further, are on the BMC RAD and Southern Sandstone Climbs. 

Other Outcrops where climbing was suspended up to 12/1/21, excluding Eridge – see above.

These include High Rocks Annexe, Bulls Hollow and the outcrops on the land owned by the Tunbridge Wells Conservators, Bassett’s Farm; all climbers be aware of and follow the advice now on  the BMC RAD and Southern Sandstone Climbs.