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 a Dodgy Gate & Stile On Pennine Way Black Hill The gate has now been modified to allow easy access for walkers with rucksacks. The tight coral area has been completely removed. At 4 months from report to being fixed this must be a PathWatch record!
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.