More Damage From January 2020 Storms Holmfirth 57 Washed Away…

Holmfirth 57 water damage 13_4_20-4
Holmfirth 57 April 2020

The 2020 January weather wasn’t kind to Holmfirth paths. Although a little late to the party another casualty of  the unusually wet winter storms is Holmfirth Footpath 57 at Netherthong.

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Holmfirth 57 April 2020

After many years of hassling Kirklees they resurfaced this path in June 2019. It has now all been washed away. At some point PathWatch will pull together a piece on recent Kirklees works to stone up out of repair paths in the Holme Valley and what has subsequently happened to them. It’s not pretty.

Holmfirth 57 June 2019

Spend A Penny To save A Pound. Holmfirth Footpath 66 After Storms Ciara & Dennis

Hol 66 Erosion 17_2_20

A good slice of this popular path has been washed away over the past two weekends of heavy rain. But are Ciara and Dennis really responsible?

The network of walled footpaths and bridleways in this area provided access to a number of small farms and settlements prior to the construction of Digley Dam and reservoir. At that time, some 70 odd years ago, all the tenants were evicted by the new landlord – the water board.


Had the water board, now Yorkshire Water, and possibly Kirklees Council continued to maintain the extensive network of open land drains and culverts which drained the footpaths,bridleways and adjoining land perhaps these routes would be in a better position today? Another example of not spending a penny to save a pound? Certainly another good example of how unconsolidated stone aggregate laid and rolled in on these steep upland paths is not the answer.

Hol 66 Erosion 17_2_20-2

This limestone was thrown down by Yorkshire Water contractors and made a cosmetic difference while masking  as serious underlying drainage issue which was not tackled.

Hol 66 Erosion 17_2_20-3


Holmfirth Footpath 133 At Gate Foot

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Holmfirth Footpath 133 After Storm Ciara

Previously on PathWatch we’ve blogged about works to Holmfirth Footpath 133 being undertaken,washing away within weeks and having to be done again. See  here and here. We’ve questioned the wisdom of using stone aggregate on steep Pennine paths with a history of drainage problems and acknowledged the need and difficulty of using  a more sustainable method.

Sadly Holmfirth Footpath 133 has again failed over the weekend after the passage of Storm Ciara. Most of the stone aggregate is half way down the hill. The drains are blocked and there are deep gullies in the path surface. The path needs extensive repairs for the 3rd time in less than a year.

Holmfirth Footpath 133

What Holmfirth 133 neatly demonstrates is the extent and seriousness of Kirklees Councils maintenance liability for rights of way, the false economy of using  sandstone on such slopes and the lack of imagination amongst senior managers (to busy authorising “unauthorised” water troughs? Ed) in developing a sustainable maintenance strategy for the rights of way network. As an organisation the Council seem entirely content with making the same mistakes over and over again.

Footpath 133 was a decent job. Great attention had been paid to drainage and the second lot of stone put down was larger and less “clean” than the first, so bound together very well but it still could not handle the weather here.

What Kirklees are proposing to do  on  Ramsden Road  (largely to keep 4×4 drivers happy.Ed) is the same technique used on Footpath 133 (and  others) but with the added ingredient of heavy 4×4 vehicles using the route. The Council know this technique fails sooner or later (without vehicle use) and it also knows legitimate 4×4 use on Ramsden Road damages the unmade surface. It seems more than happy to ignore this information and potentially make a more expensive version of the same mistake on Ramsden Road. Go figure.

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Tyne,Dogger,Fisher,German Bite,Er…Ramsden Road.

Wicket Gate-2

The Kirklees admiralty who are based at Wilton Park, Batley, (home to the Kirklees navy) have announced that a new Shipping Forecast Area is to be added to to the famous list in …er…Kirklees! Rear Admiral Birdseye (oh yes),one of Soothills most famous sons, told PathWatch of the exciting nautical development. “Following the loss of Whitby Fishermen  the other winter on Ramsden Road it has been recognised that we need to alert seafarers to the risks of  Kirklees and it’s treacherous rights of way waters”.

“The Admiralty have belatedly recognised that although Ramsden Road isn’t actually the sea, the body of water on Ramsden Road is navigable and is of such a size that the moon exerts a significant tidal pull.  Spring tides here are some of the largest in UK waters due to landrovers causing further tidal movement when driving through. It’s clear to the Admiralty that the waters on Ramsden Road are a permanent and growing feature which is why we’ve squeezed it in the forecast between German Bite and Dogger” said the Admiral before heading off to Batley Working Mens Club for his rum ration.

Holmfirth Footpath 133 – Repairs Underway.

New works late summer 2019

Footpath 133 at Gate Foot was extensively repaired in the early summer and then washed away in a downpour just weeks later. Thankfully the council have not walked away from this one and are on site now carrying out more extensive resurfacing and drainage works.

The degree of water damage mid summer 2019

What this case neatly demonstrates is the huge liability the council has in maintaining and repairing public paths in the Holme Valley. This one path has now been repaired extensively on 3 occasions and it will remain vulnerable to further damage due to it’s hillside location and the neglect of adjacent land and highways drainage.

Original works in early summer 2019

Strategic management of the rights of way network with high standards of governance and properly funded  and resourced staff are required to achieve any degree of success in such an area of work.

Stoning up hillside paths in the Pennines where there is a history of water damage is not a long term soloution on this or any other route and the council know this. Until they have a plan, a strategic direction and are properly resourced the same events will occur in the same places over and over again.

I hope the new works on Footpath 133 remain in place but the history of the site suggests otherwise.


Works To Holmfirth Footpath 133 At Gate Foot Fail within Weeks.


It is only a matter of weeks since the works highlighted in  Well Done Kirklees 2  were completed and PathWatch is sad to report on the complete failure of the entire stretch of repaired path. Last weekend’s rain has washed the whole lot away from top to bottom.

The technique of stoning up public paths is a cheap and cheerful way of doing things and can look good and last on the flat. However PathWatch has blogged before about the vulnerability of this technique on the Pennine slopes of Kirklees. It isn’t easy to find a cost effective, sustainable and aesthetically acceptable  method of repair but it needs to be done. They do exist along with experienced specialist contractors.

This is the second time Holmfirth Footpath 133 has been repaired using this method and the second time it has failed in this way. It’s not the best use of scare resources.

29th June 2019
3rd August 2019
3rd August 2019
3rd August 2019
3rd August 2019



Well Done Kirklees 2

Holmfirth Footpath 133

At this rate PathWatch will be retiring soon. Holmfirth Footpath 133 had been wrecked by the twin troubles of 4×4’s and water damage. As can be seen above the promised repairs have now been undertaken and to a good standard too. Real pleasure to see it and walk up there.

In other good news a new hard wood footbridge has been ordered by Kirklees to replace Blackpool Bridge and it is hoped this will be in by the autumn. Good news indeed.


Thanks 🙂

Harden Hill Road – Meltham Bridleway 72


Harden Hill Road is a lovely long,straight stretch of bridleway on a hill above Meltham. It has suffered from water  damage for many years and despite the council’s occasional efforts to rectify this the problems remain. Much sandstone has been put on the bridleway to repair previous damage. This can look good at first but never really stays put. What the bridleway lacks is a drainage scheme to take water off it’s 1200m downhill descent. A considerable volume of water has a free run down the full length of the hill and predictably causes a great deal of damage. Most of the new sandstone surface  now resides at the bottom of the hill and there are deep gullies forming on and off all the way down.

There are at least another 2 steep bridleways above Meltham which have been repaired using the same technique. They too are back to being deep and rather expensive gullies. It’s clear stoning up unmade public rights of way on these Pennine slopes is not a sustainable or cost effective method of repair.

Washed out surface towards the bottom of Bridleway 72
Oddly 5 cross drains,gullies and french drains have been placed right at the bottom of the hill. Locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.