Southern Sandstone Code of Practise

Southern Sandstone

We are passionate about ensuring the rocks use for future generations and paramount to this is the education of climbers visiting the Sandstone about the fragile nature of the rocks. We have adapted the information and rules below from the BMC's guide on the Southern Sandstone.


Please wear light soft-soled footwear (not walking boots etc.). If you do not have specialist rock boots, lightweight trainers/gym shoes are best. Clean your shoes before starting each climb.

Climbing Style

Bottom-roping (also known as top-roping) and soloing are the only acceptable methods. Lead climbing and use of pitons, bolts, nuts, camming devices are not permitted.

Lowering off is only permitted for climbers who are unable to reach the top. Upon reaching the top, climbers should untie and walk/scramble to the bottom. This ensures that no moving ropes are in contact with the rocks (please see setting up a belay below). Choose a climb of the right standard.

Please do not spend a long time bouncing up and down on a climb that is too hard. Please keep the use of chalk to a minimum and don't use resin powder, which blocks up the pores in the rock and polishes the holds.

Avoid cleaning holds if possible, but if cleaning is essential, do it gently with a soft brush or cloth.

The rock is softer when wet. If it is wet, climb carefully and within your standard. Do not pull hard on any sharp hold, and try to stop your feet skidding on sloping holds.

Never climb with axes and crampons, even on the rare occasions when ice forms on the rock.

Setting up a Belay

At Harrison's, Bowles, Stone Farm and Bulls Hollow, belay anchors have been installed at the top of most climbs. Do not thread the climbing rope through these, but instead set up a non-stretch belay using either a sling or static rope of 10-11mm diameter. We recommend using a 240cm sling and have a 5-10m length of static rope for anchors (such as trees) that may be some distance back from the top of the crag. Using a rope protector around the knot just above the karabiner helps to protect both the knot and the rock.

When setting up a belay, adjust the height of the karabiner to hang far enough over the edge of the crag so that the climbing rope will not touch the rock.

Moving or stretching ropes should never come into contact with the rock- the sawing action destroys the weathered crust and cuts deep grooves in the top of the crag. A static climbing rope is better than a dynamic one.

On an isolated buttress, the first member of a party will usually have to solo to the top. Do not throw a rope over the buttress from the ground.

The Ten Commandments

The following ‘commandments’ have been adapted from Simon Panton’s North Wales Bouldering guidebook and should be taken as the rules by which the future access to, and safeguarding of the Southern Sandstone crags can be assured. We should all learn to tread a little more lightly, making sure that we leave the crags and boulders - that we love so dearly - as we would like to find them. That means picking up any rubbish that we find, not leaving excessive chalk on the rock and challenging anybody we see wrecking the place.

  1. No chipping whatsoever. On Sandstone, heavy brushing/cleaning can have the same effect.
  2. No wire or hard nylon brushing. Use a soft nylon brush or a cloth very gently if absolutely necessary.
  3. Use as little chalk as possible, and only use tick marks when absolutely necessary.
  4. Gently brush away any excessive build-up of chalk and any tick marks at the end of your session.
  5. No use of resin (pof).
  6. No blow torching. If you come across a wet hold, dry it gently with a towel, or come back on a windy day when it will have dried out naturally.
  7. No gardening of indigenous vegetation.
  8. Do not leave carpet patches at the crag. Not only are they an eyesore, but they quickly become sodden, and thus useless. They also kill off the vegetation that they cover.
  9. Use a bouldering pad to decrease the impact on the vegetation at the base of popular problems.
  10. Do not drop litter at the crag, and take home any that you find.

Preserving the Crag Environment

Use established descent paths. Step on the rock rather than earth, and avoid treading on vegetation if possible.

Trees and Vegetation

If there is no belay anchor, it is usually necessary to belay to a tree. Tie the belay rope round the tree as low as possible to minimise leverage. Please do not cut down or prune trees.

Do not use herbicides for clearing vegetation from the rock. Regrowth will occur and it will be the commonest species that re-colonise, the rare species being eliminated.


Do not camp, bivouac, light fires or stoves near the crags. There is a campsite next to the car park at Harrison’s Rocks.


Please avoid the most popular climbs at weekends, particularly Sundays. Limit the time your group occupies a climb or a section of the crag. Remove ropes when you have stopped using a climb. Choose climbs to suit the ability of the group. If members are having trouble on a climb their feet will slip repeatedly causing rock erosion. Try something easier.

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