Pete Robins soloing Asterix Direct, 6a, Eridge Green Rocks
Never judge a book by its cover. For me the most inspirational element to the cover of the new CC Southern Sandstone guide is the rather fine steam engine making its way along the Spy Valley line passing the majestic High Rocks. Even the belayer has more interest in the train! However, this is my only gripe about the guide which I found to be more than satisfactory on a recent three day visit to the sandy rocks. I was no sandstone virgin, this being my fourth trip down. Previously armed with the Jingo Wobbly guide, I felt more grown-up and intellectual thumbing the pages of the CC guide, and glad not to be affronted by cartoon topos and a multitude of bizarre symbols.
The crag photos and maps make route finding straight forward and descriptions are accurate and often entertaining which is refreshing to see. Unless you are a navigational dunce, the directions to the crags are easy to follow (I got lost!).
“The Sandstone Code”:
There are lots of worthwhile rules to adhere to when climbing on Southern Sandstone, all aimed at minimising damage to the rocks and surrounding fauna and flora. Visiting climbers will find all the info to hopefully avert being challenged by the local climbers although you will need to spend some minutes reading the specific crag introductions before rushing head long towards the routes (Pete!). As visitors, we were keen to show respect to the area and all the hard work done by the local volunteers.
The guide has plenty of colour photos of people of all sexes and abilities, looking relaxed on the routes that I found to be desperate (expect to lower your grade somewhat, unless you're from Northumberland). Always a fan of the history sections, I lapped up the assortment of old photos and stories from days gone by, typically well researched by the CC team.
Rachael Barlow climbing Advertisement wall, 5b, High Rocks
Sample Guidebook Pages 2
Pete Robins soloing Tilly Lamp crack, 6a, High Rocks
I'd never been to Southern Sandstone before and most people I told I was coming said “don't bother, its rubbish”. But I wasn't having any of it, how bad could it be? Well I was right and they must be wrong, I had a great time, and in no small part was that due to the excellent new CC guidebook.
The new layout that the CC have used is far superior to any guide that they have produced before; cryptic approaches buried deep in pages of text have been replaced with clear and easy to follow descriptions, maps and topos, complete with colour, style and meticulous professionalism. The colouring and coding makes navigation through the pages effortless without being over the top and confusing. This book has refreshed my confidence in the CC guidebook machine and I look forward to many of the guides they have in the pipeline.
Initially all the rules seemed excessive and too restrictive, but once I'd mantled over a few gruelling top-outs, I soon realised that the rules are absolutely necessary to protect the rock, especially from rope grooves.
O.K., top-roping isn't everyone's bag, but we had so much fun and High Rocks IS one of the best crags in Britain, so I urge you all to buy this guide and a piece of old carpet and get down there!
Southern Sandstone Book Cover
Southern Sandstone and the Sea Cliffs of South-East England by Mike Vetterlein and Robin Mazinke (2008)
It is a thorough revision and update of Mike Vetterlein's 1995 guidebook.
This is the third guidebook in the new CC format, following on from Forest of Dean and Lower Wye Valley.