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Blog (2018)

20 December 2018

1) I recently reported three footpath problems to the Rights of Way officer at North Yorkshire County Council. The first two were reported together and I received a very swift response to say the first had been resolved. I reported the third issue on 2nd December and at the same time enquired about the second. Today I received a reply:

Dear Mr Kelly,

Thank you for your email regarding issues 63914 (Brambles) & 58411 (Tree), please see update on progress below.

The enclosed section of path number 25.25/6/2 is on our current mowing contact and was cut in late October. We have written to the landowners instructing them to cut back the hedges and overgrowth that is affecting the use of the path. I am currently awaiting an further inspection of the route to see if the work has been done.

Regarding the tree over the kissing gate a letter has been sent to the landowner to have the obstruction removed. The deadline for removal has not yet passed but we are monitoring the situation and we will update you when the issue is resolved.

Kind Regards,

Rosie Sanderson

Graduate Public Rights of Way Field Officer

It may help that the Ramblers are also on the case but this demonstrates that it is worth reporting footpath problems. I used the reporting format on the North Yorkshire CC website.

2) I have had some lovely emails this year thanking me for my efforts and also a couple where things have changed since I walked the route. This has enabled me to bring my directions up to date or add a note as appropriate. I cannot keep walking all the previous routes myself to check on them so any input is appreciated.

22 November 2018

If walking in Wharfedale, be aware that the suspension bridge over the River Wharfe at Addingham is reported closed until April 2019, to enable some unsafe steps to be repaired/replaced. This will involve a long detour if you are caught out!

Not yet even December and already Mountain Rescue Teams are being called out to people lost in the dark due to a combination of lacking map/compass/torch or in one case, all three! Please act responsibly thus:

  • Make a sensible assessment of how long the walk is likely to take. My Walking Time Calculator might help.

  • Carry a compass

  • Carry a map

  • Carry a torch

  • Wear a watch to monitor progress against daylight and if possible have an escape route in mind, just in case!

18 November 2018

Gosh. Its is over 3 months since I blogged anything.

Well, I was reckoning up today and I realise I now have over 300 walks on my website (307 to be precise). I don't know about you but for me, that is a bit of a milestone.

Last night I attended a wonderful folk concert featuring local bands Yan Tan Tether, Rum Doodle, and Duncan McFarlane and Anne Brivonesse. I particularly enjoyed Yan Tan Tether, whose brand of "a cappella" singing was particularly captivating. However my reason for mentioning this is that the event was a fundraiser for the Burley Bridge, at Burley-in-Wharfedale, my home village. I am pretty sure I am correct in saying that Burley is the only Wharfedale village which does not have a bridge connecting the footpath networks at either side of the river. The only means of crossing currently is via stepping stones which are often under water. Worse, the River Wharfe is one of the fastest rising river in the country and you could easily cross on a walk and not be able to get back, necessitating a long detour. A bridge would provide permanent access to paths extending to Nidderdale and beyond, avoiding lengthy detours via Otley or Ilkley.

The folk evening raised over £800.

There has been a campaign for a bridge for over 120 years and it looks like we might be getting somewhere at last.Both Bradford and Harrogate councils are involved. Both have given planning permission for what I think is an elegent bridge design and indicated they are prepared to consider statutory powers if necessary to overcome reluctant landowners.

This was the second event like this, the previous one being a rock evening.

The estimated cost for the bridge is currently £400,000, which includes a sum for ongoing maintenance.

You can find out more and keep abreast of events and progress towards the bridge by visiting the Burley Bridge Association (a registered charity) website. I make no apology for directing you to their "Donate" page, as obviously all donations are welcome.

10 August 2018

Did a walk this week in the area around Kirkham Priory on the edge of the Howardian Hills. I do not think I have seen such badly maintained footpaths for some time. Paths were virtually impassable due to brambles and stiles/gates had disappeared into hedgerows. Whether they are like this because they are not walked or not walked because they are like this (chicken/egg situation) I do not know. I will be reporting to the appropriate authorities but with the shortage of resources these days, I doubt much will happen. Unfortunately, the problems with these paths and the resultant problems in way finding mean I do not think I can in all conscience add the walk to my site. A shame.

4 August 2018

Some time ago, I introduced a Walking Time Calculator to my site as a safety feature, to help people work out how long a walk might take. I asked on the page for feedback as to how well it worked but so far have had none. I thought I would therefore show a practical example of how it worked for me on a walk I did earlier this week from Keld to the Tan Hill Inn.

My entries on the calculator were as follows:

wa;lking time calculator entries

I opted not to make an entry for the steep/difficult descent section because looking at the contour lines on the map, it was clearly a pretty gentle descent. The 20 minute contingency was to allow for a pint at the Tan Hill Inn. Well, it would be rude not to!

As you can see, the calculation suggested that if I walked at 3mph, the walk should take 5 hrs 7mins. If I maintained 2.5mph, I could expect it to take 6 hrs 1 min. The walk actually took 5 hours 30 minutes. My GPS receiver gave the moving average as 2.7mph. Considering precise calculation of walking times is by its nature a pretty difficult task, I call that a pretty good result!

13 July 2018

Just returned from a holiday in Somerset where I did several walks. This was my first time there, other than passing through on the M5 en route to Devon or Cornwall. It is a county with some lovely walking. Apart from the coast, which borders the Bristol Channel, it contains Exmoor, the Quantocks and the Blackdown Hills. Only Exmoor and the Quantocks visited so far but I hope to revisit the area in the future.

Somerset has many small villages tucked away down some extremely narrow lanes where time looks to have stood still. Thatched cottages abound. If you can, go with a small car!

On a different note, great news about the boys being rescued from the cave in Thailand. I hope the issue does not degenerate into "fault finding"!

Good luck to England in the World Cup tonight.

9 May 2018

I recently returned from Northumberland where I did four walks, two of which I have now added to the website. What a great county this is to visit, It is so quiet and peaceful with (relatively) hardly anyone around. Driving was a joy for a change with long, straight open roads. There were some good pubs too!

15 February 2018

Evidently some clothing manufacturers have started using magnetic catches instead of Velcro/poppers. You need to be careful if using a compass wearing such clothing and be careful not to store any such clothing in your rucksack close to it. Proximity to a magnet for any length of time can lead to reversal of polarity of the compass with potentially serious consequences! Take similar precautions in relation to mobile phones.

6 February 2018

Just returned from 2 weeks in Lanzarote. The first week was wonderful but the second week deteriorated into a succession of (relatively) cold days with showers and strong gusty winds. Unfortunately this has meant I have only added one new walk to my Lanzarote collection. Did go on a very enjoyable wine tour though, despite having to dodge the showers. Locals reported this was their coldest winter weather on record!

6 January 2017

It is rather sad to have to start the New Year with a negative blog but I have felt compelled to write to the Lake District National Park to object to the proposals to install a number of zip wires across Thirlmere. This is a very pretty view which should not be spoiled by such a "theme park" style attraction but more than that, the proposal flies in the face of the principles on which the concept of the National Park is based, not to mention the practical implications of adding something like 127,000 visitors a year to the very busy A591, the primary through route of the Lake District. The full wording of my objection is as follows. If you agree, I urge you to object too.

"To Mr Kevin Richards

Planning Reference: 7/2017/2298

Proposal: Thirlmere Activity Hub: Development of a zipwire attraction, a series of improvements to the round Thirlmere cycleway, improvements to car parks, access paths and the extension and development of an existing toilet block to provide reception, changing area and toilet facility

Location: Land at Thirlmere, St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

In considering the above application, I urge the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNP) to reject this application and consider purposes and duties of the National Park. This is set out on the LDNP website at http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/aboutus/nat_parks_history.

This states:

“As set out in the Environment Act 1995, the Lake District National Park Authority's statutory purposes are:

To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Lake District National Park; and
To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public.

It also has a duty in pursuing those purposes:

To seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities within the National Park by working closely with the agencies and local authorities responsible for these matters, but without incurring significant expenditure.”

Clearly the proposal makes no contribution at all to the first point. Whilst zip wires might provide a degree of enjoyment to some, this is absolutely not in the context of the “special qualities of the National Park” which are the natural beauty and tranquility which the mountain and lake scenery provide.

The third point is “To seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities”. In this context the only meaningful fostering is to provide 28 full time equivalent jobs. There will no doubt be some benefit to other businesses. There is no doubting that jobs are valuable and might be welcomed by some but the additional noise (whoops and screams of thrill seekers plus additional traffic noise) and the additional burden of 127,000 visitors to an already very busy National Park is in direct conflict with conserving and enhancing the natural beauty. As far as I know, there is no cultural heritage in zip wires!

In such cases of conflict, the Sandford Principle should apply, as enshrined in Section 62 of the Environment Act 1995. This makes clear that conservation must have priority.

In his article for the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, “Why Cumbria Needs the Thirlmere Zip Wire” of 4 January 2018, Julian Whittle refers to the success of the Snowdonia zip wires. However this comparison fails to address the practical problems which an additional 127,000 visitors will cause to the LDNP. Snowdonia only receives 4.27 million visitors a year. The LDNP already receives 16.4 million visitors per year (4 times as many). Furthermore, the additional 127,000 are unlikely to arrive evenly spaced but will bunch at peak times, when I think it is fair to say there are already occasions where the LDNP could be regarded as “full”.

Also, the location at Thirlmere will add the extra traffic to an already very busy A591, the only direct route through the center of the LDNP. This will obstruct LDNP residents/businesses going about their daily activities and in that context works against the principle of fostering the well being of local communities.

Rob Johnston, the Chamber’s Chief Executive downplays the negative impact of the zip wires on the appearance, peace and tranquility of the lake by pointing out that “The landscape of Thirlmere is already hugely altered by man……” This is true but a false argument. The entire Lake District has been hugely altered by man with deforestation and sheep grazing over thousands of years. We are where we are and most importantly we like where we are NOW!

Mr Johnston points out that the A591 is “one of the busiest roads in the Lake District” and that any noise from the zip wires will be drowned out by the traffic noise. I find it a strange argument that adding to existing noise is a positive factor.

The Lake District is a beautiful and special place. It was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2017. The committee praised the area's beauty, farming and the inspiration it had provided to artists and writers. Introduction of theme park type attractions flies in the face of these qualities and the application should be rejected.

John Kelly


All information on this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.