Marsden Moor is the tinder box of the South Pennines and regularly goes up in flames for a whole host of reasons. Many of these are historical – woodland clearance, pollution from the industrial revolution and over grazing. Add in a bit of global warming and we’ve the perfect storm of neglect just waiting for a disposable barbie, tab end or some fool from Huddersfield with a firework.
As a result of these regular moorland fires the whole area is covered by Public Space Protection Orders banning campfires, barbies etc. A very sensible move which should be strictly enforced at all times. Ongoing education of the public is arguably more important for the long term future of the moor.
This week has seen an unprecedented fire risk in the Peak District and the National Park Authority have closed all Crow Act access land. They have reportedly advised the National Trust Marsden Moor estate to close all access land on Trust property and this was announced yesterday on social media.
There is a but coming and it’s an important one because it shows a lack of understanding of the basis for public access to Marsden Moor from both the Peak Park and National Trust. The implication of this is that both these organisations are relying on closure of the moor in extreme conditions when they cannot in fact do this. How then are they managing the fire risks ?
Marsden Moor is what is known as section 15 land and it cannot be closed under the mechanisms of the Crow Act which is what the Peak Park have advised! Section 15 land predates the crow act and recognises long standing public rights. Marsden Moor is an urban common and cannot be closed. How can the Peak Park and National Trust not know or choose to ignore this?
From Foot & Mouth through to Covid the knee jerk reaction of authority is to close the countryside to walkers. No one having a quiet walk on Marsden Moor is a fire risk but the public must be stopped!
Much of what organisations like the Peak Park, Nationl Trust or Kirklees put out for public consumption via social media is not based in reality. The sweeping closure of Marsden Moor yesterday was fake. It distracted from the real fire risks that do exist and sought to ban putting one foot in front of the other on the moor without any basis in either law or evidence.
The Peak District National Park has announced the closure of public access land in the park due to the high fire risk. This follows the regular extensive closures on mostly grouse shooting estates in the spring. The average rambler may be beginning to wonder just what the value of the so called right to roam is.
Most of the Peak District is covered by Public Space Protection Orders which ban barbecues, stoves,fires and any naked flames. It’s worth noting that public access land does not permit these activities anyway. Walking would appear to be a zero risk activity in comparison.
There is no explanation from the Park of the fire risks created by walkers. Perhaps they think ramblers still wear hob nailed boots and that there’s a risk of sparks on speeds over 3 mph or on rocky ground?
One of the most characteristic features of the Peak District moorlands is that…er…well…it’s all been burnt already! These moors are euphemistically called “managed” and are used for grouse shooting. The moorland arsonists will tell you that one of the benefits of a “managed” moor (which is deliberately and extensively burnt) is a reduced fire risk! I kid you not.
Previously on PathWatch we highlighted an environmentally damaging proposal to construct a permanent vehicular access track to Black Moss & Swellands Reservoirs in the Kirklees bit of the Peak Park.
The proposal was turned down at the Peak Park Planning Committee on 6th August 2021 on the following grounds.
The public safety issue does not create an Imperative Reason of Over-riding Public Interest justifying a permanent track through the Natural Zone;
Alternative solutions have not been explored thoroughly enough given what is understood to be required (in terms of building work and regular maintenance) such that the requirement to demonstrate that there are no alternative solutions has not been fully made out to the satisfaction of members, in particular by use of a temporary track; and
Insufficient satisfaction that the proposals would result in acceptable impacts on this peatland habitat and in particular on nesting birds.
The committee item can be viewed here . Well done to the Peak District National Park!
A planning application has been submitted to the Peak Park by The Canal & Rivers Trust to build a road into Black Moss & Swellands Reservoir from the A62. This quiet area has no vehicle access and the character of the moors here will be changed by a development on this scale. The Pennine Way and many informal paths are directly affected. The proposal can be viewed here https://portal.peakdistrict.gov.uk/02210110 Comments on the application are open until 12th March 2021.
That you can can see the scar on the hillside from miles away is an indication of the extensive damage that has been done to Magdalen Road, a public bridleway in the Peak District National Park. The road is Meltham Bridleway 50 and it’s popular with mountain bikers, horse riders and walkers in equal measure.
There’s a lack of suitable off road routes for equestrians and cyclists in both the national park and wider Kirklees. That any public bridleway can be treated in this manner is appalling and thoughtless but not a surprise. At the moment who has carried out the work remains a mystery. Kirklees are advising that the work is unauthorised and enquiries are ongoing. Let’s hope they tackle this head on and quickly!
Following on from It’s Not A Rifle Range. You Don’t Have To Keep Out. a number of ramblers have got in touch to point out that the above sign is not in fact on its own. Oh no, it has friends stretching back over 500 metres to the legitimate exclusion zone. A wall of “Danger Keep Out” signs on what is public access land. Here is the legitimate keep out zone Deer Hill Site Notice – July 2019 The sign above and its friends are over 500 metres away!
Between Shooters Nab and West Nab there is an exclusion zone in the CROW Act access land. The area is a “fall of shot” zone where, theoretically, some stray shot may fall to the ground from the firing range north of Shooters Nab. Rather than use a red flag system to keep people off when live firing is actually taking place, the exclusion is at all times. The area is clearly marked on OS Maps and on the ground by the type of sign shown above. So far so good.
Except the sign above has only recently appeared and it is some 540 metres to the south and outside of the legal exclusion zone. Someone has gone to a lot of effort to put it there. This isn’t far away from similar signs and a fake dog ban sign highlighted in https://path-watch.com/2020/09/03/meltham-moor/
Down on Wessenden Head Road where the public have traditionally parked to access West Nab someone is putting boulders within the width of the public highway and digging holes in other long established parking spots.
We really aren’t welcome in areas of our own countryside it would seem.
20 years on from the Crow Act 2000 and the “right to roam” and there are still areas around here where you can’t help but feel unwelcome. Meltham Moor is one of them. The stile at Muddy Brook Clough is not maintained and difficult to use. In contrast a misleading sign warning of a rifle range and highlighting a fictitious dog ban is very well looked after. For the record here is the only dog restriction in that area 2019108990 It’s over half a mile away.
The land beyond this gate is access land in the Peak District National Park and the public have the right to walk here. There was a proliferation of these signs in the area. Most did refer to private property but not this one. I’d only walked this way because the footpath I intended to use was blocked!