Harrison's Rocks

Southern Sandstone

User attention

Following a review of anchors used on Southern Sandstone, the way we use bolted anchors in the area is changing. The current system of a main bolt (which takes all of the load), secured to a backup bolt with a swaged steel cable has been used on Southern Sandstone for 30 years or more. However, updated expert advice has recommended that this changes to both bolts equalised to a central point, in line with standard practice elsewhere.

It is not possible to equalise the bolts with in situ equipment in a way that is both strong and will not cause damage to the rock so climbers will now need to equalise both bolts as part of their top-rope setup. In the short term, all swaged wire backups will be removed from bolted sandstone anchors as soon as possible. Additional bolts will be placed where needed at Harrison’s and Stone Farm Rocks as part of an ongoing BMC program of renewing and updating bolted anchors.

Visitors should arrive with equipment to allow them to equalise the double bolt anchors to a central point – there are many ways of doing this but the most common and easiest is to use either a sling or rigging rope with screw gates on each bolt. Remember to extend the anchor point sufficiently to prevent your climbing rope from wearing the rock. It’s a good idea to use rope protectors over any rigging to prevent damage to slings/ropes and the rock from normal movement whilst belaying.

The BMC would like to thank DMM for their assistance with testing.

from 24/09/2021 to 30/09/2022

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: BMC Owned No. of Routes: 588
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 your 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 surrounding Harrisons) is owned by Forestry England and has been dedicated as open access land. The fields to the west of the Rocks are private property. Any trespassing strains the good relations between climbers and our neighbours - 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 area please visit the Forestry England website.

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


Forestry England have installed a pay and display machine to cover the costs of running and maintaining the car park and toilet block. Please make sure you pay and contribute towards keeping this valuable service available to the public. The machine takes coins and card, or you can pay by phone. Charges are as follows:

  • Cars: £1/hour, £4/Day, £6/24 hours or a Membership 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


The gate to the car park will be locked between 10pm-8am intil 24th October and 5pm-8am from 25th October onwards. Forestry England are unable to send staff out to unlock the gate at night, so if your car is locked in, it will have to wait until the following morning to leave. PLEASE BEAR THIS IN MIND AND LEAVE THE CRAG IN PLENTY OF TIME.


There is a small, basic campsite adjacent to the car park, this was created for the climbers at Harrisons Rocks and Forestry England are very pleased to welcome you back after a period of closure due to the Covid pandemic. The campsite has 16 pitches set back from the car park, a toilet block, washing up area and fire pit. Please note there are no showers here.

There is now an online booking system that enables you to book a camping slot on one of the pitches on the day of camping. Please note this doesn't allocate you a specific pitch and pitches are on a first come first served basis.

When you book you will receive confirmation, please keep this handy as wardens may ask for this when conducting checks. You will also receive the site rules and important safety information. Please read these carefully and the risk assessment displayed at the toilet block. Bookings start at 10am and last for 24 hours so you must be packed up and off the campsite by 10am on the morning of departure.

Parking charges apply and tickets must be purchased from the machine in the toilet block or via RingGo.

Please note this online system is part of a trial, camping without booking may impact the future of the site.

Fires are only permitted in the fire pit.


For those who want a campsite with more extensive facilities, there are a number of other sites nearby: 

  • Camping & Caravanning Club site, Crowborough (www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/eastsussex/crowborough/crowborough)
  • Manor Court Farm, Ashurst (www.manorcourtfarm.co.uk/camping)
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

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Anonymous User
Was very busy today due first weekend after ease of lockdown. It was possible to maintain some level of social distancing albeit with some difficulty.
Anonymous User
The car park is no longer free. Also, apparently there is a bird nesting in bow window.