Harrison's Rocks

Southern Sandstone

User attention

The Forestry Commission car park at Birchden Woods will be closed for essential engineering works from 8th - 11th November.  from 08/11/2017 to 11/11/2017

Beautiful and unique rock architecture which provides challenging climbing across the grades is the stand out feature of this incredibly popular South East crag. The intricacy of movement its routes require and stunning woodland setting transport you into another world and it’s easy to imagine you’re a character in a folk tale long ago as you wander around below the crag. As with all southern sandstone, leader placed protection cannot be used because of the soft nature of the rock and whilst this might be a little unusual for us trad obsessed Brits, you will quickly get into the top-roping zone and come to appreciate the fine climbing on offer. 

Crag information
Climbing Area: London & South East Rock Type: Sandstone
Importance: National CRoW Land: Yes
Ownership: Private No. of Routes: 380
Within National Park: No Year Developed: 1926
Grid Reference: TQ532355

Harrison’s Rocks are owned and managed by the BMC for the benefit of climbers and the general public for recreation on foot. The rocks are well-equipped with bolts for top-roping and as with all southern sandstone crags the rock is very soft meaning leader placed gear cannot be used here (as it will damage the rock). The only acceptable styles of climbing are top roping using a well rigged system that will not damage the rock with moving ropes, or if you are confident of you abilities soloing. A group of volunteers periodically load-test the bolts, but there is no way to guarantee their strength and as with any crag all climbers should make their own assessment of fixed equipment before use.

Birchden Wood (the woodland surrouning Harrisons) is Forestry Commission land and is open access to the public. The fields to the west of the Rocks are private property. Any trespassing strains the good relations between climbers and our neighbors - if you are in charge of a group please make sure that your party is aware of this. For more information on Birchden Wood and the car park/campsite area please visit: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-8zuf6x

Isolated Buttress access advice

The large block on the mainland opposite Isolated Buttress which was used to step across the gap has been removed due to it becoming unstable and dangerous. At the Sandstone Open Meeting in May 2015, considerable local opposition was voiced to the idea of construction of a bridge across to the pinnacle (to allow access from above). The Harrison's Rocks Management Group are monitoring the situation to help inform a decision on a long term solution. 

In the meantime, please avoid abseiling or lowering off from routes on the Isolated buttress as this will increase wear to the fragile rock.

Various methods can be used to access the pinnacle and setup your ropes including soloing and being belayed across from above but these will be too risky for many climbers. The method which offers the most protection requires a very long length of rigging rope and is described in this short film on BMCTV or below:

  • Attach a locking carabiner to the end of your rigging rope
  • Clip your climbing rope through the locking carabiner at it's mid point 
  • Throw your climbing rope over the pinnacle to another climber on the ground 
  • The climber on the ground gently pulls both ends of the climbing rope until the rigging rope screwgate is hanging over the lip of the crag and flicks the rope into the right position to protect a route 
  • The climber on top of the crag ties off the rigging rope to the set of bolts on the main crag (or a suitable tree), leaving the locking carabiner hanging over the lip of the crag and the climbing rope not contacting the rock when it moves
  • The first climber up then re-rigs the rope for subsequent ascents using the bolts on top of the Isolated Buttress, ensuring the moving rope does not come into contact with the rock
  • All climbers then climb the route(s) and downclimb either the route they climbed or an easier alternative, rather than lowering off or abseiling

To retreat from the pinnacle at the end of the session: 

  • The  last climber to top out re-clips the climbing rope through the long rigging rope attached to the bolts on the main crag 
  • All other rigging equipment is removed from the bolts on top of the Isolated Buttress
  • The climber then down climbs a route with a belay rather than abseiling or lowering off
  • Once back on the ground the climbing rope can be pulled through and the rigging rope retrieved from above

Parking and Approach

Campsite:

The work to the toilet block and car park is now finished, which means the campsite is open again as of 30th April. For the timebeing, there will be no charge for camping as the infrastructure is not in place to collect payment. However once the pay and display machine has been installed, it will have an option to pay for camping and once in place it is hoped that everyone will pay for their stay, as this income is vital to ensure the campsite and toilet block facilities can be maintained and stay open in the long term. Once the machine is installed, prices for camping will be:

Adult: £5/night

Child: £2.50/night

There are 16 pitches available for camping and advanced booking is not possible - the pitches are available on a first come first served basis. If you arrive and find the campsite full, please don't be tempted to pitch your tent elsewhere in the surrounding woodland. There are a number of other campsites nearby, and these may also be more approriate for families or those needing more extensive facilities: 

- Camping & Caravanning Club site, Crowborough (www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/eastsussex/crowborough/crowborough)

- Manor Court Farm, Ashurst (www.manorcourtfarm.co.uk/camping)

 

Parking:

The Forestry Commission will be installing a pay and display machine in the summer of 2015. There has been a fee for camping and a collection box for parking fees at Birchden Wood for a number of years, however, more regulated charging is required in order to support the upkeep of the facilities. The charging system is not yet in place due to a dely in delivering the pay and display machine, however once up and running the charges will be:

Cars: £1/hour, £4/Day, £6/24 hours or a 'Discovery Pass' which allows unlimited parking for a year from the date of issue. (This will only be available for cars).

Minibus (up to 17 seats): £2/hour, £6/day, £8/24 hours

Coach: £3/hour, £10/day, no overnight stays

CRoW Information

Open access land, designated under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (2000) give area access rather than linear access as provided by public rights of way. It also gives a legal right of access specifically for climbing, as well as walking and other quiet recreation on foot.

Please bear in mind however that the landowner still has the right to restrict access for up to 28 days per year (often used on public safety grounds for shooting in moorland areas), and can also apply for longer term restrictions with Natural England (such as bans on dogs, or regular restrictions during particular times of year). It is important to check for these restrictions regularly as they can be added at short notice – all details for open access land in England can be found on Natural England’s website.  

Area information

Follow this link for the definitive Code of Practice for climbing on southern sandstone; https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmcNews/media/u_content/File/access_conservation/southern_sandstone/ssc05_print.pdf

Weather Information

Guidebook info currently being updated

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