Bull's Hollow - The Restoration Project.

This page is now an archive of the work done at Bulls Hollow over the winter months of 2003/2004 by local climbers with help from sponsors. I will update as and when necessary.

Bull's Hollow is a disused sandstone quarry to the south east of Toad Rock near the village of Rusthall, approx. 1.5 miles west of Tunbridge Wells. This 25 feet high outcrop has been climbed on for many years and appeared in H. Courtney Bryson's 1936 publication "Rock Climbs Round London". The quarry is named after one of the quarrymen.

Possibility Wall
Possibility Wall toward Trident Terrace

The outcrop continued to be a popular local climbing venue with many classic lines, up until the later 1980's when lack of management of the tree population and the resultant shading helped to change the characteristics of the rock surface. The rock seldom had a chance to dry out from the water retained over the winter months. The other major crags in the area (apart from the heavily shaded areas at High Rocks about a mile distant) did not seem to suffer in this way. This change in conditions with the consequent reduction in climber traffic resulted in the crag becoming largely unclimbable in all but dry spells, resulting in a sadly dilapidated state.

By 2003, there had been talk amongst local climbers of restoration. The question was broached at the Southern Sandstone Open Meeting in May of that year and enthusiastically received. Having made the suggestion, I was tasked with co-ordinating the project.

Bramble Corner
Conways Cracks, Bramble Corner and The Knott.

A site survey was carried out with the BMC's South East Access and Conservation Officer on 24th August 2003 to give some idea of the scale of the task. A week later, we met with Steve Budden, warden of the Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators and explained our proposals. These were met enthusiastically and Steve agreed to approach English Nature on our behalf as Bulls Hollow is a geological SSSI.

Both TWCC and English Nature gave their full agreement for the work to be carried out and we actively sought support, both in terms of funding and manpower. Local climbers and clubs were canvassed and many volunteers pledged support The project got underway in November 2003 with a weekend of scrub clearance. This proved very worthwhile as it opened up the ground area and removed most if the overhanging foliage from the crag edges. It also gave us a cleared area to deal with the arisings from the tree cutting that would follow.

Square Cut
Gangway Wall and Square Cut

The nature and extent of the work planned along with concerns by TWCC and English Nature dictated that the tree work be carried out by professional arborists necessitating funding to be sought and we attracted grants to cover part of the cost from both the Climbers' Club Colin Kirkus Guidebook Fund and the Access and Conservation Trust (via the BMC) enabling us to approach a professional tree surgeon (from within the climbing community). Down to Earth Professional Tree Management were approached and through their generosity, (meeting the majority of the cost of the work) the project went ahead. In order to maximise the amount of work that could be done and to give the local climbing community a sense of 'ownership', we used volunteer labour to carry out clearance of scrub and smaller trees from areas both above and below the crag and then to form teams to assist the arborists.

The delapidated entrance signs

A group of dedicated volunteers from the climbing community spent the weekend of 15th and 16th November 2003 scrub bashing - clearing the undergrowth from both above and below the crag in order to give the arborists easier access to the trees. The volunteers returned over the weekend of 5th, 6th and 7th December along with three arborists from 'Down to Earth' to work on the tree canopy allowing greater light and air movement in the hollow. Signs, funded by the BMC were replaced in 2006 along with a general sign update at many of the local crags.

Pictures of the work may be seen by following the links to the photo galleries...
Scrub Bashing
and Tree Cutting Weekends Gallery 1  Gallery 2  Gallery 3. (Click underlined links).
The News File Archive chronicles events as they happened. The Next Event Archive - is Here.

*** New!! Recent photos of Bull's Hollow here.***

As a result of the experience gained by the work at Bull's Hollow, the Sandstone Volunteers' Group was formalised and a much larger scale project that had been brewing for some time came to fruition - The High Rocks Project is documented on the SVG website http://www.sandstonevolunteers.nildram.co.uk/

Feb 2008 - The SVG has been active over the winter months - Croydon Mountaineering Club kindly spent a day at Bulls Hollow and are due to complete the work in March. Other SVG activity includes two days spent cutting trees and scrub at Harrisons Rocks and a day spent curring the ever pervasive Rhododendrons at High Rocks courtesy of the owner. At Harrisons we had the luxury of three professional chainsaw operators- Tony Flint from Tony Flint Tree Surgery and Woodlands Works (fanflint @ aol dot com) and Rosie and Simon from Eagletrees - www.eagletrees.eclipse.co.uk. This made the work significantly easier and we were able to tackle the larger jobs. Thanks also to Paul Burroughs for the use of his saw. We had 20 volunteers on the Saturday and 19 on the Sunday.

At High Rocks, we cut the Rhodies back on 23rd February - they were encroaching onto the climbing faces again and needed to be trimmed. 17 volunteers turned out for a day's work.

Both crags could use some more work but that will have to wait while we go climbing! Many thanks to all who gave up their time and energies to help out.

There are a few (poor!) pictures here... (opens in a new window).


If you've seen the work done in Bulls Hollow and have any comments, or if you have anything else to add, please e-mail me here bullshollow @ adcock.clara.net   [please copy into your mail client and remove the spaces before and after the @ - it might keep the spam down a bit!]

Graham Adcock.

Sponsors' Logos - click for websites.

Access and Conservation Trust
Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC The Climbers' Club English Nature Down To Earth
Access and Conservation Trust The BMC The Climbers' Club English Nature Down To Earth

Last updated 30th January 2007.

Steve Jackson has produced some video evidence of the crag before and after the scrub clearance.
Right click and use "Save As" to download the files below.

WARNING - They're large files so probably best you're on broadband!

Video Clip #1 in .wmv format. 7Meg clips of Bulls Hollow before the work started and after the scrub clearance (1 min 50sec).

Video Clip #2 in .wmv format. 3.7Meg clip Friday 5th Dec 2003. First day of cutting. (Warning - shows graphic detail of limbs being removed!) (2 min).

Video Clip #3 in .wmv format. 2.3 Meg clip from Sunday 7th December 2003 - clearing the site after the cutting had finished (2 min).

This page has been accessed times since 27th November 2003.