Southern sandstone is composed of a particularly soft material and are perhaps the most fragile rocks in the country to be climbed on using conventional techniques. As they are also among the most popular it is essential that we look after it, so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. The rock is exceptionally weak and owes almost all its strength to the development of a thin weathered crust, typically only 2 or 3 millimetres thick. Climbing even without ropes, results in erosion of the rock although this can be minimised by good practice, please see the Sandstone Code of Practice for advice. The most common reason for erosion is badly placed belays, please ensure that no moving ropes are in contact with the rock.
Climbing on Southern Sandstone was first recorded in 1926 and since then some of the best climbers of each era have started their careers on Southern Sandstone including Martin Boysen, Mick Fowler, Ben Moon and Neil Gresham. Top visiting climbers have included Chris Bonnington, Ron Fawcett, Johnny Dawes, Lucy Creamer and James Pearson.
In recent years local climbers including many TWMC members have been instrumental in improving and preserving the local crags and the Sandstone Volunteers Group regularly organises maintenance days to keep the crags in condition and minimise erosion. This is a model that is now being encouraged across the country by the BMC. You can find more information on Southern Sandstone on the BMC website.
There are three guidebooks that cover the area the definitive guide is published by the climbers club, you can buy it here, there is also a selected topo guide by jingowobbly which you buy here, and a bouldering guide which you can buy here.