About High Rocks in Tunbridge Wells

About High Rocks in Tunbridge Wells

High Rocks is a 3.2 hectare (7.9 acre) geological Site of Special Scientific Interest 3 km (1.9 mi) west of Tunbridge Wells. The site was notified in 1986 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and is an important geomorphological site for sandstone weathering features.

The location was formed when a melting ice sheet at the end of the last ice age uncovered hardened silt deposited when the area was part of the Wealden Lake. There are traces of Middle Stone Age and Iron Age residents, including a 1st-century A.D. fort guarding against the Roman invasion.[1]

After King James II visited Tunbridge Wells and made the woodland a resort in the 17th century, The rocks became a tourist attraction with a maze, a bowling green, gambling rooms and cold baths. The Aerial Walk, a series of bridges linking the tops of the crags was built in the 19th century.

A halt served by the local railway was established in 1907, open until 1952. The Spa Valley Railway, a heritage railway now connects the High Rocks pub beyond the High Rocks turnstiles to Tunbridge Wells, Groombridge and Eridge (on the London-Uckfield line of Southern Railway).

The crags are visited by rock climbers and other members of the public. It is also frequently used for wedding receptions. Footpaths lead around the rocks, and it is possible to walk across the top of crags on footbridges. The main area is fenced in and there is an entrance fee (£3 adults, £2 children & £10 for climbers Feb 2010 [£2,£1 & £5 in Aug’09]) to enter the site, payable to the High Rocks pub and restaurant opposite.

An unfenced and free access section of the ridge of rock outcrops can be reached by following the footpath west of the pub, next to the railway line.