Southern Sandstone: all you need to know

Posted by Chris Stone on 10/06/2021
Stone Farm Rocks - one of two BMC owned crags in the Southern Sandstone area

Southern Sandstone is a collection of crags very popular with climbers living in the London and South East area located in the Central Weald on the borders of Kent and East Sussex. Two of the crags are owned by the BMC, Harrison’s Rocks and Stone Farm Rocks.

Southern Sandstone is an incredible but very fragile rock that we all need to help look after and protect from damage. Before climbing at the crags, please make sure you read and follow the Southern Sandstone Code of Practice which tells you everything you need to know to minimise your impact on the rock whilst climbing.

You can find up to date access information including details of crag closures by visiting the BMC’s Regional Access Database or downloading the RAD mobile app.

Whether you're climbing routes or boulders, these two short films summarise the most important things you need to know before visiting any Southern Sandstone crag:

WATCH: Southern Sandstone Top Roping

WATCH: Southern Sandstone Bouldering

If you are a new climber to Southern Sandstone, check out this playlist covering essential skills including checking anchors, rigging ropes and the gear required for climbing on sandstone. Climbing on Sandstone is different to climbing on other rock types and very different to climbing indoors!

Where can I find out more information about the climbs in the area?

There are two guidebooks covering the Southern Sandstone are: Southern Sandstone Climbs published by Rockfax and Southern Sandstone and the Sea Cliffs of South-East England published by the Climbers Club. Additional information can be found on the website Southern Sandstone Climbs including details of all the work that has taken place to maintain the crags.

Who looks after the Southern Sandstone crags?

There are two volunteer groups that work on behalf of climbers to maintain the crags, the Sandstone Volunteers Group (SVG) and the Harrison’s Rocks Management Group (HRMG). In 2011 The Steve Durkin Sandstone Trust was set up with the purpose of generating a fund that could be used to maintain both the condition of and access to all Southern Sandstone crags.

What is the HRMG?

HRMG is a sub-committee of the Land Management Group and are tasked specifically with the management of the two BMC owned crags. HRMG work very closely with sandstone users and local landowners including Forestry England which owns Birchden Wood, adjacent to Harrison’s Rocks. You can contact HRMG by emailing HRMG@theBMC.co.uk. The current HRMG members are:

Adrian Paisey (Chair)
Daimon Beail
Mark Brewster
Sarah Cullen
Rob Dyer (BMC Access & Conservation Officer)
Emma Harrington
Kate Harris (Forestry England)
Bob Moulton
Michael Phelan
Tim Skinner
Chris Stone (London & South East Area Chair)

How can I have my say about what happens on the Southern Sandstone crags?

Two open meetings take place each year which are your opportunity to have your say and join in the discussion about Southern Sandstone related issues. At each meeting there is a report on sandstone issues followed by a general discussion with no agenda. Details of these meetings will be posted below and on the BMC London & South East Area Facebook page.

The next open meeting is on Monday 18th October 2021 (time and location TBC).

You can also raise any comments or concerns you have by attending the BMC London & South East Area meetings which take place four times a year. Details of the meetings will be posted on the area Facebook page.

I couldn't make a meeting - how do I find out what was discussed?

Minutes from previous HRMG meetings and Sandstone Open Meetings can be found below.

HRMG MEETING MINUTES

2021

19 January 2021

2020

29 September 2020
26 May 2020
20 January 2020

2019

18 November 2019
13 May 2019
21 January 2019

2018

18 October 2018
14 May 2018
15 January 2018

2017

13 December 2017
11 October 2027
17 May 2017
11 January 2017

2016

19 October 2016
11 May 2016
13 January 2016

2015

14 October 2015
17 May 2015
19 January 2015

2014

6 October 2014
19 May 2014
13 January 2014

 

SANDSTONE OPEN MEETING MINUTES

2021

11 May 2021

2020

1 September 2020

2019

20 October 2019
19 May 2019

2018

7 October 2018
20 May 2018

2017

8 October 2017
21 May 2017

2016

23 October 2016
15 May 2016

2015

18 October 2015
17 May 2015

2014

5 October 2014
18 May 2014


DOWNLOAD: the shiny new BMC RAD app

Get all the info on crags with the newly updated RAD (Regional Access Database) app from the BMC! Available now for Android and iOS, it's free and comes with a host of new features like navigation and parking, weather and tidal updates, and of course information on restrictions or notes on access advice. Get it here now!

DOWNLOAD: The RAD app for Android

DOWNLOAD: The RAD app for iOS

RAD is community led and your comments help keep it up to date so don’t be afraid to add any relevant information after a crag visit which might be useful for other visitors – anything from conditions on the crag, favourite routes or reports of rockfall/other recent changes to the crag are all useful for other climbers visiting.


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