If like me you are passionate about rock climbing but are unfortunate enough to live in either London or the south east you will know how hard it is to get outdoors on the rock and have had to make do with plastic holds.
This blog post is going to be a game changer for you, I am going to share with you my three favorite spots in Kent where you can get outside and have a session on some real rock.
I know what, you have probably heard so many people with bad things to say about the sandstone climbing in Kent and East Sussex. But pay no attention there are a lot of great spots and some classic problems under 1 hour from London, below is my list of the top 3 areas to visit.
(Nicotine Alley- 7A- Photo by @controlclimbing)
Bowles is located just a miles walk from Eridge station and is probably the most popular spot of all at Southern Sandstone, this is thanks to the quick drying, south facing rock and range of climbs from very easy to very hard.
Bowles is a charitable organisation that works with young people so there is a £5 charge upon entry but it is well worth it to get your hands off of the plastic and onto some real rock.
Top Boulder problem at Bowles
- Nicotine Alley- 7A- A long traverse from relatively good holds into a small crimpy rail and finishing up on the slopy arête. This is located on the Fandango wall which has the best conditions year round.
(Inglenook Left- F6B- Photo by @controlclimbing)
Happy Valley is one of the outcrops close to Tunbridge Wells common and it is only a 10 minute walk from the station, through the park with deer to spot on the way if your lucky. Tunbridge Wells station is around 45 mins from London Bridge so not far to travel.
Happy Valley is only really worth visiting in the summer months as it is located in a heavily wooded area and the holds can get damp and mossy at times, but there is some great highball problems as well as some traverses and shorter boulders.
Happy Valley is not managed so there is no entry price but it is maintained by a group of volunteers who look after lots of the outcrops known as southern sandstone.
Top Boulder problem at Happy Valley
- Inglenook Left- 6B- this problem is pretty stiff at 6B and I would I’ll probably stretch it to 6C. This problem is found at the sweeps cave area, start by locating the two pockets on the rear wall and reach behind eliminating the left side wall and ledge find the crimpy lip and finish with a powerful mantle to top.
(The North Boulder- Photo By 27crags)
Harrisons Rocks is located just outside of the village of a Groomsbridge in between Tunbridge Wells and Eridge stations and probably easier to access by car, although the 219 bus from Tunbridge Wells can get you pretty close.
Harrisons is the largest of the cluster of outcrops forming Southern Sandstone boasting around 400 routes including top rope and bouldering, it is owned and managed by the BMC- Bristish Mountaineering Council.
Top Boulder Problem at Harrisons Rocks
The Sheriff- 6C- Located on the north boulder, The Sheriff Graded at 6C but could perhaps be a 6C+ thanks to the erosion of the top. a powerful route up the obvious nose of the boulder, using the the crimpy handholds and a cheeky heel/toe hook will get you in position to finish this powerful top out on slopers over the lip of the boulder.
I hope this inspires you to make a trip to Kent and East Sussex for a climbing trip, it may not be font but there are some great routes available a short distance from London that are well worth the sub 1 hour train journey, don't listen to the neigh sayers and judge for yourself.