Harrison's Rocks - Southern Sandstone
Harrison's is one of the largest and most popular of the Southern Sandstone climbing areas and provides a variety of climbs at different grades. It is probably the best known Southern Sandstone crag and is popular with climbers and walkers alike. The rocks are set in a lovely location, surrounded by Birchden wood and from the top of the rocks there is a brilliant view and you can even see the occasional steam train roll by on the Bluebell Railway.
Because of its popularity, Harrison's can be very crowded. It is a family friendly location with plenty of climbing, bouldering and scrambling for all abilities. Birchden Wood is Forestry Commission land and is open to the public for walking and mountain biking.
Harrison's Rocks are known for its variety of climbing styles which range in difficulty, there are approximately 381 climbs here. The crag is also popular with boulderers, with the North Boulder providing something for everyone and some great lines running along the rest of the crag.
The rocks face south-west and on a summer's day prove to be a sun trap, lovely for an evening climb. The majority of climbs are wet and green in the colder months. Some of the easier routes are becoming worn due to the rocks being a popular beginner's destination.
There are a number of climbs suitable for beginners and children including Dark Chimney (2a), Tame Variant (2b) and Fingernail Crack (2a). Classic climbs include Long Layback (5a), The Flakes (6a), Slim Finger Crack (5c), Moonlight Arete (4c) and The Vice (4c). The south end of the Rocks is on private land and is fenced off. This area includes five climbs, from Holly Tree Chimney to South Boulder, fortunately, it is reported that these climbs are not worthwhile.
Harrison's Rocks has a history of being a climbing area dating back to the 1920s. It is named after William Harrison who was a farmer and also the manufacturer of firearms at Harrisons until 1750. In 1958 Harrison's Rocks were bought by a group of climbers for the BMC and the rocks were owned by the Central Council for Physical Recreation. Ownership was then passed to the Sports Council and the rocks were managed by the British Mountaineering Council. In 2006 ownership of the rocks was transferred fully to the BMC.
Harrison's Rocks is greatly linked to the Tullis family. This link started in 1963 with Terry Tullis being the voluntary warden for Harrison's Rocks. Terry and his wife Julie ran the Festerhaunt in Groombridge which was a climber's café and shop. Sadly Julie died in 1986 after becoming one of the first 2 British climbers to reach the top of the second highest mountain in the world, K2 located in Pakistan. She is also remembered as the second female to reach the summit. The current warden of Harrisons Rocks is Chris Tullis, Terry's son.
Harrisons Rocks are south of Groombridge on the Sussex and Kent border and lie on the west edge of Birchden Wood. Head south from Groombridge, pass the old station and take the right fork. Turn right again after approximately 200m down a narrow lane signposted "Birchden Wood and Harrison's Rocks". This will take you to the car park. From the car park, there are a few footpaths and different routes that lead in a southerly direction to the rocks. The walk takes about 10 minutes.
There is a fairly large car park located approximately 10 minutes walk from the rocks. This can get busy in the summer time. From the car park, there are a few footpaths and different routes that lead in a southerly direction to the rocks. Please leave a donation towards the upkeep of the Rocks on your way out. £1 per vehicle is the suggested donation.
The rocks are well equipped with bolts for bottom roping. It is essential when top roping to use a non-stretch belay sling and to position a karabiner over the edge of the crag in order to minimise damage to the rocks. Please note that recent works have been undertaken to the toilet facilities at Harrisons. These are due to open in March 2014.
Toilet facilities are located in the car park and there is also a place to get drinking water. The Julie Tullis Memorial Campsite is due to reopen when the toilet facilities are complete. Disabled climbers are recommended to contact the Warden before their first visit. The fields to the west of the Rocks are private property, please do not trespass.