Tom Chapman is a local climbing enthusiast from Kent and CEO of the climbing brand Control Climbing. Tom writes…
I know what you are thinking, rock climbing in Kent is hard to believe, right? But for a part of the country that is not particularly known for its rich mountainous views there is some good rock climbing available and you don’t have to travel too far to find it.
I am going to share with you some of my favorite spots to go climbing in and very close to Kent starting today with Bowles Rocks, a sandstone crag that sits on the border of Kent and East Sussex in Rotherfield near to Tunbridge Wells.
Bowles is probably the most popular of the outcrops amongst climbers that make up the Southern Sandstone cluster, this is thanks in part to the quick drying, south facing rock making it accessible almost all year round.
Getting started with rock climbing can seem pretty daunting to begin with but with a few recommendations on what to do and bring to Bowles Rocks, you can get started relatively easily. The key thing with rock climbing is to work within your capabilities and seek advice from a professional rock climber if you’re unsure. Remember, safety first!
What Do I Need to Bring?
Great for a beginner, bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on smaller rocks and boulders and does not require ropes and harnesses. What you will need however is a bouldering mat to break your fall, a tea towel or car mat to wipe your feet before climbs (unusual maybe but this protects the rock). Climbing shoes will make it easier but it is still possible to climb without them. Either way sensible strong footwear is a must to prevent slips or breaks.
Getting to Bowles Rocks
Bowles Rocks are located just 5 miles south of Tunbridge Wells with the 219 bus from Tunbridge Wells taking you within walking distance of the entrance. For drivers there is plenty of parking provided. If you’re using public transport to get here, that’s a great call be sure to check Kent Connected to get your own personalised public transport route!
Bowles Rocks offers a huge variety of climbing activities from very easy to advanced levels with everything in between, making it a perfect location for first timers and families as well as seasoned climbers.
Bowles is a charitable organisation that works with young people. There is a £5 charge to use the rocks but it is well worth it. Your £5 goes towards charitable causes, site maintenance and the amazing facilities on offer such as toilets (which is almost unheard of when climbing outdoors).
I hope this inspires you to take the trip to Bowles Rocks for a fun day of climbing, it may not be mount Everest but there are some great routes available and they don’t require too much travel and scaling the sandstone is still very satisfying when you reach the top and the views are pretty amazing too!
For More information on available climbs at Bowles check out the UKC.