Welcome

Great news – you found us! Maybe you landed here from our Social Media, UKClimbing or a search, either way… joining the TWMC is an excellent way to progress your climbing and meet new people.

You’ll be reassured to hear that we are following our our National Governing Body’s COVID-19 guidance ‘What will change from 29th March in England’ and also Clubs, Huts & Meets.

The Committee met on Sunday 28th March to discuss resuming club activities. In accordance with the BMC Guidance for restarting club meets and having conducted a Risk Assessment using their guidelines, we have determined that we will be able to resume WEEKDAY EVENING SANDSTONE MEETS only.

We look forwarding to climbing with you, The TWMC Committee – Callum, Helen, Stephen, James, Christian, James and Emma.

Climbing with us


Whether it’s your first time out or you already lead E1, we want to make sure both you and our members are safe. We welcome climbers of all abilities, we just request you be honest about your skills and if you’re unsure of anything, please ask! We are fortunate to have some excellent sandstone crags nearby, so check out our New Member FAQs page and join us for a climb.


Never Climbed?
Rock climbing is a great way to explore the country, several of our members started climbing with the club. It’s important you can tie-in and belay safely, so we suggest attending a short course with a local instructor. Nuts4Climbing offer a 10% discount on their ‘Beginners’ courses for TWMC members. The Reach runs an excellent 6 hour Basic Skills Course and High Sports offers a 1 hour Introduction to Climbing.


Indoor Climber?
Maybe you’ve bouldered, top-roped or lead climbed indoors and wish to starting climbing outdoors. Climbing on real rock is similar in several ways, but there are some key differences, the most obvious is that the holds are not brightly coloured! This makes it more fun, but don’t expect to immediately climb at the same grade. Nuts4Climbing offer a 10% discount on their ‘Indoors to Out’ courses for TWMC members.

Many people aspire to learn how to ‘Trad’ climb as it opens up a huge range of routes on sea-cliffs and mountains. Instead of clipping pre-placed bolts like in Sport Climbing, Trad Climbing involves placing protection into cracks in the rock yourself and more complex rope work. Some people ‘learn to lead’ on a course with a qualified Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor (MCI) whilst others spend time ‘seconding’ experienced members and reading books & online materials. The club sometimes organises ‘learn to lead’ weekends, run either by instructors or members.


Experienced Climber?
You’ve got a rack, rope and partner, so why join TWMC? You’ll get a heap of new climbing partners, advice, club trips, knowledge, car sharing, socials. If you’ve moved to the area and already climb, get in touch! There are so many benefits of being a club member, the BMC wrote this article: Why Join a Club?


The Club

About: Tunbridge Wells Mountaineering Club (TWMC) is a friendly group of around 60 members spread across Kent, Sussex and Surrey. The club was founded in 1984 and welcomes climbers of all abilities, we have members in their 20s through to their 60s. Most of our activity is roped rock climbing and some bouldering, summer alpine and Scottish winter mountaineering. Several members are keen to share their knowledge with others. We are also advocates of professional instruction; a local climbing school Nuts4Climbing offer new members a 10% discount on courses and we have a training subsidy scheme available to established members. This encourages skills development and sharing across the club. We’re not-for-profit and are run by a volunteer Committee. 

Local Climbing: We are regulars on the Southern Sandstone outcrops about 15 minutes drive from Tunbridge Wells. It’s top-roping and bouldering only due to the soft nature of the rock. Meeting us for a climb locally is the best way to get to know the club. From April to October we climb outdoors on weekday evenings at least once a week and members are out climbing most dry weekends.

Trips:

We organise 4 large ‘club trips’ per year, these attract around 20 people and are a great way to get to know other members. Popular destinations: Peak District Gritstone in spring, Snowdonia in summer, the Gower Peninsular during August school holidays. Affordable group accommodation is usually organised by someone and you may need to pay a deposit to secure your bunk / pitch. We’ll visit crags with low grade classics and 3* test pieces. If you’re looking to climb with someone new, these are very social and friendly trips to join.

In addition, our members organise many ‘personal trips’ to various UK climbing destinations at weekends. These are often extended to other members and are just as much fun. You will see people advertising for ‘another experienced pair to join a car share’ or ‘we are climbing & camping here if others wish to join’. These smaller, self-organised trips are how most of our climbing happens. This is different to the large London clubs which plan a formal meets calendar a year in advance. Our members prefer to be flexible, take people’s preferences, ability and the weather into account. Large groups are fun but bring extra admin, and if not managed well, can have a detrimental impact on the crag and others’ enjoyment. Weekend trips are often to the Peak District, Pembroke, The Gower, Baggy Point, North Wales, Swanage, Portland, Dartmoor, Cornwall or the Lakes.

Day Trips: From Tunbridge Wells we can reach a handful of trad and sport climbing areas, climb and get back in a day, often known as ‘Day-Raids’. So if you only have a ‘1 day pass’ or the British weather is marginal, this is the trip for you! Leave at dawn, and 3 hours later be in the Wye Valley on the Welsh border, Swanage / Portland on the Dorset coast, the Avon Gorge in Bristol, or Fairy Cave Quarry in Somerset.

Indoor Climbing: Between November and February most club activity is indoors as the sandstone is porous and becomes very fragile (unclimbable) when damp. Our nearest venue is Chimera Bouldering in High Brooms (Tunbridge Wells) and for roped climbing High-Sports in Brighton (Withdean) or The Reach in Woolwich (London)

Winter Climbing: We have a small contingent of Scottish Winter climbers and walkers who drive north to swing their ice axes around in the Highlands. Most of us are hoping for another Beast of the East so we can take our crampons to North Wales or the Lakes which are considerably closer! A number of members run, cycle or mountain bike in winter to keep fit and some of us ski / snowboard.

Climbing Abroad: Members have organised trips to Fontainbleau, Spain, Kalymnos, Sicily, Nepal, Ireland, Thailand, the USA and the French Alps. Several members have summer Alpine experience and others have aspirations to get to Chamonix for the first time. If snow and ice is not your thing, Southern Spain is an incredible winter-sun climbing destination.

Socials: Climbing on sandstone is very social in itself due to the short routes and quick set ups, meaning you can climb with several people each session. Most of our ‘socials’ are a post-climb drink, ice-cream or meal in a country pub. On a weekend trip, members stay at the same campsite and socialise in the evening, some people cook together, whilst others find nearby pub food before regrouping for drinks. We host a couple of club-wide social events, a summer BBQ at Harrison’s Rocks campground and a Christmas Curry night in December. During coronavirus ‘Lockdown’ we did some video call socials to stay in touch.

Social Media

Follow our public Instagram and Facebook Pages to see what the club is all about:

Membership

2021 TWMC Membership fee is £25 which includes a £20.25 BMC Affiliation fee. From 1st July Membership is half price. Members must be at least 18 years old. We regularly welcome prospective members at club events and have a dedicated New Members Rep to help you get to know us.

Tunbridge Wells Mountaineering Club is a British Mountaineering Council (BMC) affiliated club and endorses the BMC’s Participation Statement regarding risk – see image in footer. A proportion of your membership fee is used to affiliate you to the BMC as a ‘Club Member’.

Member Benefits:


BMC Club Members are eligible to:

BMC article ‘Why Join a Club?’ – https://www.thebmc.co.uk/why-join-a-club


Member of another BMC affiliated club?

If you wish to join the TWMC, you will need to pay our membership cost in full but can reclaim the BMC affiliation fee directly from the BMC. https://www.thebmc.co.uk/claiming-multiple-membership-refunds

e.g. TWMC Members who are also members of The Climbers Club can claim. The BMC usually send refunds in July and will ‘automatically’ refund future years assuming you remain eligible.

How to Join:

  1. Check out our New Member FAQs page
  2. Contact our New Members Rep
  3. Complete a digital membership form (for BMC Insurance and NHS Track & Trace)
  4. Come for a climb locally on sandstone or indoors (get to know other members and the Committee)
  5. Pay your membership fee (we’ll confirm once your membership has been accepted)

New Member FAQs

We created this Q&A in Spring 2021 based on common questions from prospective members – we’ll add more in the future.

What activities do members enjoy? Are you a Mountaineering Club or Climbing Club? 

The heart of the club is top-rope climbing on the local sandstone. Away from home, our members’ preferred disciplines are Trad & Sport climbing. We don’t currently arrange hill walking weekends but some members meet locally for a walk / run.

Can I try out the club before committing to membership?

Yes absolutely! Ideally we would like to meet you before accepting your application, similarly, we prefer you climb with us locally first, before joining a trip away. After a couple of sandstone / indoor climbs you will get a feel for whether we’re a good match. You can be a prospective member for a maximum of 3 months.

How do I get involved? What is the best way to meet the club?

We aim to run a New Members Event every month or so, usually on a Tuesday or Thursday evening. Between April & October it will be on sandstone and from November to March at an indoor wall. Let us know you’re coming and we’ll arrange to meet you and introduce you to the group. If there’s not a dedicated event on the Club calendar, contact our New Members Rep and we’ll find a day that works for you and us.

Where do I meet the club for a climb?

Harrison’s Rocks car park map. We will try to meet you at the car park, but it depends on who is climbing and what time you’re likely to arrive. If you know Harrison’s Rocks, we may ask you to walk along the base of the crag and find us, it’s a 10-15 min walk SW.

Bowles Centre map. Bowles rocks are only a 2 minute walk from the car park, so just come and find us, the crag is only 200 meters long. The Centre charges a small fee for climbing per visit so please have cash / card – season tickets are available.

Chimera Climbing High Brooms map. This is our local bouldering centre, let us know you’re coming or look out for t-shirts with the club logo and say hi.

High-Sports Withdean map. This is our preferred top-rope and lead climbing wall, let us know you’re coming or ask the staff to point out a member.

What equipment do I need?

      • As a prospective member you will need to have your own climbing harness to join a New Members Event on sandstone and ideally some rock shoes – which should be comfortable not painful. Helmets are not customarily worn on sandstone but this is your personal choice and you should understand the risks. Indoor walls will rent you a harness and rock shoes.
      • As a regular sandstone climber you will need this top-roping equipment, in addition to a harness, belay device and rock shoes. Please come along for a chat before purchasing kit. Be sure to read our Sandstone Info page which tells you everything about climbing on these fragile rocks. The nearest shop with climbing equipment is Go Outdoors in Tonbridge, we recommend seeking advice and trying on harnesses and rock shoes before buying.

Does the club have any equipment I can borrow?

No sorry, there’s too much paperwork involved, we are a community of independent climbers not an activity centre. Unfortunately, COVID currently prevents us lending out personal gear to prospective members. This is rarely a barrier if you’re keen; sandstone needs relatively little equipment and those who enjoy Trad & Sport prefer to invest in their own gear. Members are individually responsible for ensuring they are properly equipped, not just for the climb and descent, but also the weather and mountain environment.

Do I need to have experience or climb a certain grade? Can you teach me to climb? Do you run courses?

We’re open to climbers of all abilities. Ideally before joining the club, you’d have a basic knowledge of how to tie-in and belay safely. See ‘Climbing With Us to find out about beginner courses. We don’t run formal training courses ourselves – we are a group of independent climbers. Some members are keen to share their knowledge, but we are not setup to teach you to climb from scratch. That said, if you’re unsure of anything, please ask! 

How are trips organised, what do I need to bring? 

Find out about ‘Club’ and ‘Personal’ trips in our Trips section on The Club page. Accommodation is usually in a climbers hut / bunkhouse or a campsite so a sleeping bag is essential for all trips plus a tent & stove if camping. Members usually bring their own food or eat out together at a local pub, occasionally we cook a group meal. Transport is car sharing and lifts. A WhatsApp sub-group is often created so members can make plans with each other. 

How does the club communicate? Where can I chat to other members online?

We use WhatsApp Groups for most comms including chat and trips. Club meets are also posted the Club calendar. We have a Members only Facebook Group for photo sharing and an email distribution list for formal club matters, we’ll add you to these if you join.

How do I find a climbing partner in the club? 

We prefer our members to make their own decisions about who they climb with and so climbing partnerships are established organically, rather than determined by an organiser / Committee. This is especially important for Trad & Sport. We suggest you come along for some social top-rope climbing locally and meet other members.

How much does membership cost?

      • £25 for a full year which runs from 1st January to 31 December. Of this, £20.25 goes to the BMC.
      • £12.50 for a half year from 1st July to 31st December. Of this, £10.13 goes to the BMC. 

Visit our Membership Page for benefits, how to join and reclaiming multiple BMC Affiliation fees.

Will I receive a membership card?

We do not issue paper TWMC membership cards, you can access a Digital Membership Card via our Members Area after we’ve accepted your application and the Membership Secretary has processed your details. The BMC send a paper membership card embedded in the address front sheet of Summit magazine – don’t throw it away by accident! 

Do I have to pay for BMC Membership?

Your TWMC membership fee includes affiliation to the BMC as a club member, there’s no need to join the BMC separately. As a BMC club, we must affiliate all TWMC members for insurance purposes, it is not possible to ‘just’ join TWMC.

Am I insured as a BMC Club Member and for which risks? 

The BMC’s Combined Liability insurance covers prospective club members during a trial period of up to 3 months as long as we have your details via a membership form. Club members are covered for the provision of advice and knowledge sharing, as long as they are doing so in a voluntary capacity and receiving no payment. Personal accident insurance is not standard, you must upgrade your Club Membership.  

Is climbing dangerous?

We endorse the BMC’s Participation Statement regarding risk – see image in footer. All members agree to take part in club activities voluntarily and shall be responsible for their own actions and involvement.

Please check out the following pages if you haven’t already: