As the Covid-19 lockdown eases, access for climbing is opening back up, subject to some measures and restrictions depending on where you are going. Please make sure you have read and understood our current advice before heading out and apply it alongside RAD advice to ensure access issues don’t develop.

Bowles Rocks

Southern Sandstone

Marked as 'Outdoor Pursuits Centre' on some OS maps, this is the hardest and least sandy sandstone crag in the area - it is also south facing and dries quicking.

Crag information
Climbing Area: London & South East Rock Type: Sandstone
Importance: Regional CRoW Land: No
Ownership: Private No. of Routes: 150
Within National Park: No Year Developed: 1959
Grid Reference: TQ542330

Covid-19 update from 12/06/20  which supercedes the 'normal' access arrangements below:

  • Evening climbing only between 17.30 and 21:00. No climbing is permitted during the day in order to safeguard the day courses which Bowels runs.
  • Admission is £5.
  • Payment by contactless card only.
  • All season ticket holder memberships will be extended by 2 months at this time.
  • Bowles are currently not selling anymore season tickets at this time until normality returns.
  • No climbing on or past the Chalet Slab in order to protect the resident staff.
  • All climbers must follow BMC COVID guidelines. People not doing so will be asked to leave.
  • Liquid chalk strongly encouraged where possible.




Below are the 'normal' access arrangements, left here for info but currently superceded by the above Covid-19 arrangements:


Bowles is owned by the Bowles Rocks Trust (a non-profit making charity) and run as an outdoor education centre providing instructional courses for groups and individuals. Bowles runs rock climbing courses for beginners, improvers and for indoor climbers moving outside. 

A scheme known as ‘Open Climbing’ operates, which means you can climb anywhere not required by the Centre’s instructional courses. It is occasionally necessary to close the rocks completely, but this is extremely rare. Bowles charges for climbing, the present rates being £4 a day, £3 after 5pm, £2 for children and £30 for a season ticket.

At weekends and some evenings someone will come round to collect payment. In office hours please pay in the office. Otherwise put your money in one of the boxes at the far end of the car park or in the office porch. There are vending machines for hot and cold drinks in the Cabin, the small building by the ski slope. Under-18 climbers are only allowed if supervised by a parent, a legal guardian, or a qualified instructor holding authorization from Bowles. Dogs must be kept on a lead, and any mess cleared up.

There are a number of routes with cut holds dating back to the 1960s, and it is hoped that no more of these will appear. Most of the vandalized routes can be climbed on natural features only. The Centre discourages the use of chalk on easy routes and requests it is used sparingly on the harder ones. Contrary to the Sandstone Code of Practice, you may see abseiling in certain areas by groups under Bowles instruction where care is taken to protect the rock. The BMC and Bowles management ask climbers to refrain from this potentially damaging activity. There are belay-bolts above nearly all the climbs, and in a few cases these have wire extensions.

Area information

Follow this link for the definitive Code of Practice for climbing on southern sandstone;

Weather Information

Guidebook info currently being updated

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