Happy Valley Rocks - Outdoor climbing
Happy Valley Rocks are a quiet crag, and good for a spot of low to mid-grade bouldering on a sunny day. Despite rock which is somewhat poor in quality Happy Valley Rocks have an appeal and a surprisingly engaging atmosphere. Set in Happy Valley, originally called as a result of resembling an earthly paradise, the rocks are in lovely surroundings and are a popular spot for walkers. They are worthy of a trip for a relaxing day interspersed with some easier boulder problems.
Happy Valley is south facing and has approximately 68 climbs. The climbs are small with the maximum height being 5m making it more popular with those interested in bouldering. Rock is variable in quality, being soft and sandy. Top routes include Red Snapper (Font 6a) which offers an overhang and Girdle Traverse (5c). Take a bouldering mat due to some steep landings.
Happy Valley was given its name in 1870 and was named after the paradise in Samuel Johnson’s ‘The History of Rasselas’. The Happy Valley area included what are now the grounds of the Beacon Hotel. Happy Valley was a beauty spot in the Victorian and Edwardian times. The best view of the area is said to be a clearing between the steps and the Beacon Hotel. The rocks were previously known as Cold Bath Rocks due to a Cold Bath being constructed below the rocks in 1708. The Hundred and One steps were built as access to the Cold Bath. The bath was not used from 1766 onwards and the area was not maintained until 1870.
Happy Valley Rocks have a wealth of history and were used in the past by Nomadic hunters. Mesolithic flint items have been found to indicate that the rocks were used as campsites.
In 1890 the Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators became responsible for Happy Valley Rocks and continues to look after them now. The Happy Valley Caves located on the western end were once used as a dump for soot and as a result, are sometimes described as ‘Sweeps’ Caves. In 1839 a town guide described the caves as dormitories for Gipsies.
Happy Valley is west of Tunbridge Wells. Look for signage directing you towards The Beacon hotel. The crag lies west of St Pauls Church on Rusthall Common. From the A264 Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead Road follow the signage directing towards the footpath for Happy Valley.
There is parking available opposite the church – this is limited and normally there are no spaces available if a church service is on.
There have been reports of wasp nests on the crag in the past so be careful and don’t get stung!