Southern Sandstone

Hi all. I’m starting a thread for occasional day trips down to London’s nearest natural rock: Southern Sandstone, with crags in East Sussex and Kent. The climbing is notoriously difficult – desperate feet and sandy slopers – but hey, it’s all on top rope so it’s OK!

When to go
When it’s dry – you mustn’t climb on damp or wet sandstone as this rock type is very fragile. It’s also good for when you can’t go away for a full weekend, but still want to climb outdoors.

How to get there
The main BMC-run crag, Harrison’s Rocks, can be reached by train – it’s about an hour from Victoria or London Bridge, and a half-hour walk from Eridge station. There are plenty other crags to explore too, including a bouldering spot and quarry in Tunbridge Wells. But Harrison’s is my preference, as it has a wealth of varied routes, a campsite, and, from April to October, a coffee and bagel cart in the carpark for refreshments.

Why it’s actually quite good
Southern Sandstone is super technical, and if you can make your feet stick on it, you can probably make them stick on anything! It’s a challenging style, but rewarding. I’ve also found it a nice and stress-free way of honing particular skills (like jamming), as it’s all on top rope and you can test things out without fear of falling.

It’s very important to observe the guidelines for climbing and setting up anchors at southern sandstone crags, as this is a very sensitive rock type that is easily damaged. Read the code of practice in full here.

EDIT: Join the members’ WhatsApp community for ad hoc trips. Link in this post.


Happy memories of climbing at Harrison’s back in the late 60s and early 70s. Glad it’s still good. And hard.


Add me in! The link adds my business whatsapps so if you could add my personal WhatsApp on 07932244172 that be appreciated. Ta.

Added :slight_smile:

Great idea!

I live round the corner so can hopefully drop in here and there. Can offer lifts to people who arrive by train on those occasions too :slightly_smiling_face:


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So nice to see that there’s appetite for this! A couple of us are going to Harrison’s on Sunday (21 April). Note the marathon is on if you’re coming down from London.

I’ll be getting the 8.51 train from Victoria, and others are driving/camping. Carpark coordinates here. Apparently there are road works on Eridge Road, but the carpark is still open.

All welcome to join – the more the merrier!

I would be interested however my membership hasn’t officially gone through yet (I assume that’s not a problem). I went on the new members meet last week and I’m afraid I’m addicted, and the weather seems good that day. I am still a beginner very much though. I lead 2 pitches of a VD trad route, but that is the full extent of my experience currently. I bought the VDiff books on sport/trad so I might practice building sport anchors at the Castle tonight.

I would need someone to take me under their wing a bit, so I would be a burden. Let me know if this is a beginner friendly meet, and if not, very happy to wait until a bigger meet like the Cornwall trip.

Do come along Tristan! There are routes of all grades. There are bolts and trees for setting up the anchors, so it’s a lot more straightforward than trad anchor building. But I’m more than happy to show you how it’s done – never a burden :slight_smile:

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Superb, thanks Kristina. Count me in, I’ll pack my snacks tomorrow.