Welcome

Great news – you found us! Joining the TWMC is an excellent way to progress your climbing and meet new people. We refreshed our website during ‘Lockdown 3’ – just scroll down to find everything you need. 

We are following our National Governing Body’s COVID-19 guidance:

In line with the above BMC Guidance, the club has resumed WEEKDAY EVENING OUTDOOR SANDSTONE MEETS and SMALL INDOOR MEETS.

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 awesome sandstone crags nearby, come along 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 a course with a qualified instructor: either outdoors in Groombridge Nuts4Climbing Beginner Sessions, or indoors: Woolwich The Reach 6hr Basic Skills Course or Brighton High Sports 1hr Introduction to Climbing.


Indoor Climber?
If you’ve bouldered at a gym, you’re likely to enjoy the short sandstone routes, but it’s important you can tie-in and belay safely – so even if you pull hard on plastic, for safety we suggest a Nuts4Climbing Beginner course. They will teach you these essential skills and introduce some outdoor techniques on suitable graded routes.

If you’ve top-roped or lead climbed indoors and wish to start climbing outdoors, a great way is to learn how to setup the ropes on a Nuts4Climbing ‘Indoors-to-Out’ course. This will kick-start your route to becoming a proficient club climber.

There are many differences when climbing on real rock, especially sandstone, and you shouldn’t expect to climb at the same grade straightaway. 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 (aka gear) yourself and more complex rope work. Some people ‘learn to lead’ on a course with a qualified Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor (MCI) whilst others prefer the ‘apprenticeship’ approach of seconding experienced friends 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. A major advantage of climbing as a club on sandstone, is that you can climb more routes as ropes are often shared. 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. Members are fairly self-organising and much of our climbing is informally organised by independent climbers. Several members are keen to share their knowledge with others. We are also advocates of professional instruction; we have a training subsidy scheme to encourage skills development and sharing within the club. We’re not-for-profit and are run by a volunteer Committee. 

Sandstone 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, people often mix in and share ropes, meaning you can climb more routes – as well as the social, this is the main reason to come to ‘club night’! From April to October we climb outdoors on weekday evenings, usually Tuesdays & Thursdays, and members are often out most dry weekends.

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). Club nights are usually Tuesday & Thursday, but people often arrange other evenings via WhatsApp.

Weekend Trips: Peak District, Pembroke, the Gower, Baggy Point, Snowdonia, North Wales, Swanage, Portland, Dartmoor, Cornwall, the Lakes.

We organise 4 large ‘club trips’ per year, these attract around 20 people and are a great way to get to know other members. 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. In contrast to the large London clubs which plan meets a year ahead, our members prefer to be flexible, take people’s preferences, ability and the weather into account.

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’ from family /work, 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.

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 bite to eat 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:


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)