Forest Rock Introduction
OS ref. SK532142 (Sheet 129)
SITUATION and CHARACTER
Forest Rock is an old slate quarry. The crag is situated at the middle of Woodhouse Eaves, beneath the churchyard right next to (you've guessed it) the Forest Rock pub. This (the crag, that is) provides excellent climbing on good, deceptively steep rock. Most of the crag overhangs considerably and can provide good sport in wet weather. However, it rarely sees the sun and can be green in winter. The quarry originally produced a form of blue slate and was once owned by the Herrick family when it was called Great Hill. It has been called Church Quarry. The local name is currently Stone Hole. The cave was cut in pursuit of a particularly good bed of slate. The quarry was there before the church and was described in 1877 as being "long abandoned".
The slatey rock is, like all the Charwood Forest slate, very ancient Precambrian in fact. It was once ejected from volcanoes and probably laid down in beds under water. Since then the mud has been compressed, thrust upwards and sheared (this gives the slatey cleavage). Some primitive fossils appear in a few beds.
The floor of the quarry is grassed and well tended by the Borough Council. Unfortunately about four feet of rock exposure was lost when the area was landscaped before being grassed and a couple of metres has been cut off several routes.
APPROACH and ACCESS
Woodhouse Eaves is most easily reached by turning west off the old A6 onto the B591 just north of Quorn. After 2 miles turn west at the Bulls Head and follow the road through the village for half a mile. As the road starts to ascend, the Forest Rock is on your right. Only park in the pub car park if you intend to use it (the pub!).
In 1976 Charnwood Borough Council purchased the quarry under a compulsory purchase order because the place was a mess and no owner could be found. They listed the use of the land as `Public Open Space' on the compulsory purchase order. Several years ago the old school which was adjacent to the low (useless) part of the quarry was sold and turned into houses. The top of the low crag which provides an easy way down, or a scramble up for the local kids, and has done for perhaps a hundred years, overlooks the bedrooms and backyards of these houses. Just for fun some of these young people started peeing dawn into the backyards and running away through the churchyard. The owner wrote to the Parish Council requesting that climbing on the rocks be banned. The Parish Council referred the request to Charnwood Borough Council who decided at full council to put up a sign banning rock climbing. The Borough Council (Conservative) cynically decided to erect a sign banning climbing, even when it knew it had no authority to ban climbing. To actually ban climbing they would need a Model Bye-law from the Home Office and would be unlikely to get it as the place is public open space and not much use for anything but emptying your dog (mind your feet) and climbing on. The B.M.C. have contested the issue, and the Chief Constable is aware of it. So remember when you climb here you have a perfect legal right to do so, irrespective of what the sign (it says "Rock Climbing is Prohibited"), the local people or a passing uninformed uniformed policeman might say. It is one of the few crags in this guide to which you have legal access. Please don't vandalise the sign, it only gives climbers a bad name. Don't sit on the War Memorial to eat your sandwiches, the Parish Council don't like that either. Avoid noise and bad language.
Because of damage to the small holds and nuisance to the local residents the crag should be avoided by groups who merely want abseil practice. Use Morley or Nunckley Quarry instead.
Forest Rock was formerly a major centre for artificial routes. They followed very fine crack lines in the roof of the cave, and were completed over many weekends, Trevor Peck's special stainless steel 'micro' pegs being ground down to knife blades to fit the very thin cracks. Ken Vickers and Dave Draper started the ball rolling in 1959 with Sorcerer and Sorceress. Others were active in the early Sixties as well. The first important free route, Definitely Not, was the bold work of Dick Wrottesley, and did not get repeated for many years. Abseiling etc. is thought to have removed a number of the fine flake holds. The route is now much harder than in 1962. A new and talented group of climbers took over the crags in the late Seventies. The first development, was the free ascent of Sorcerer (White Dust Opera) in 1978 by Simon Pollard and Steve Gutteridge. The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Wishbone Crash) also saw a first free ascent by Steve Allen and John Codling in 1982. The action now switched to Sorceress. John Codling put the bolts in with a variety of bored (get it) partners over a period of years from 1986. In 1987/8 he led the route by clipping the second bolt, failing, and lowering off. He then climbed the route without reloading the gear. In 1988 Torston Shutsbach, a German visitor to the Leicester Polytechnic was taken to the crag by Greg Lucas as he wanted to try his hand at the hardest route in the area. Lucas was under the impression that the route had been done previously by John Codling. The German failed after two days effort and six falls from the lip of the cave. Greg Lucas topped out instead. The first Redpoint ascent is claimed by John Codling on 24 Aug 1992.
It is difficult to see what more can be added at Forest Rock (famous last words) but this small unique quarry is certainly an important location., and one of the major crags of this area.