UKH

Blackwell Halt

Hi

A group of friends and I were told today by a chap erecting a fence that he had bought the land on which the crag stands and that climbing is no longer permitted. Can anyone confirm that? 
 

Cheers 

Post edited at 17:42
 Karlos123 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Keith Hague:

Yup I as the owner can confirm this is a SSSI under active management in partnership with Natural England. Blackwell halt is private land and a SSSI there is no public access to this land It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage, disturb or destroy land known to be an SSSI or intentionally or recklessly disturb the wildlife in an SSSI. It is also an offence to take down, damage or obstruct an SSSI notice or sign. the advice on this page is also wrong in that the access from under the bridge is trespassing on railway property so is also illegal. I have contacted all the climbing groups and asked them to inform its members but unfortunately this has not yet happened. I really do apologise but on that one day alone I spoke to 8 individual groups wanting to access the land this is not sustainable and is having a detrimental effect on the management of this land. part of the management plan will be to have stock grazing the land so stock fencing is being installed we ask that this is respected and not damaged as this will result in the stock escaping potentially causing an accident and or the livestock getting hurt or killed on the railway.

https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteUnitList.aspx?SiteCode=S2000186&SiteName=The%20Wye%20Valley&countyCode=&responsiblePerson=&unitId=&SeaArea=&IFCAArea=

Number 008 BLACKWELL QUARRY

 SSSI notices and signs will be placed at the site         

Post edited at 09:43
 Graeme Hammond 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Karlos123:

Private land and SSSI are separate issues. Being a SSSI site does not necessarily mean that climbing should be prohibited: there are plenty of SSSI sites where climbing is permitted,  including some that are owned and managed by Natural England themselves (e.g Ravensdale).

It would be really good if access to this popular climbing crag could be maintained whist protecting the site, and i really hope that something can be agreed to everyone's satisfaction. 

I will bring this to the attention of the BMC access reps. They may not have your contact details to speak to so you might want to email Rob Dyer robd@thebmc.co.uk

 spenser 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Karlos123:

Hi Karlos,

I'm not sure who you have contacted when referring to "all the climbing groups", if you've just contacted local clubs that may not achieve what you are after as there are many climbers who aren't in clubs (or are solely in national clubs) and the information may not get fed up into our representative body.

Climbers should typically check what access arrangements are in England and Wales by using the RAD, the page for Blackwell Halt (and a neighbouring buttress) is here:

https://thebmc.co.uk/modules/RAD/View.aspx?id=5569

The person you want to speak to is a chap named Jon Fullwood who is the access rep for Peak Limestone:

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/list-of-bmc-access-reps

We also often check access arrangements in guidebooks/ the Rockfax app, books represent the access situation at time of printing so someone may legitimately be unaware of a change in the access situation. The access details can be updated in the app and I believe this is tied to the RAD.

It's worth noting that climbers do regularly climb in SSSI areas with agreement of landowners where climbing does not have a negative impact on the topic of scientific interest, we also often climb in areas where there are livestock present with landowner agreement and without letting the animals out. As such I would hope that an access agreement with appropriate restrictions could be made to prevent any negative impact on your land and to allow climbers ongoing access. Either way, Jon is the person to contact concerning any change in the existing access arrangements.

EDIT: My post crossed paths with Graeme's, Rob would likely also be able to help.

Post edited at 10:09
 Mark Stevenson 05 Apr 2021
In reply to all:

It would be a real shame if climbing here was lost after over 25 years of continual access. As an old quarry with a relatively flat base it strikes me as potentially one of the sites with lower environmental sensitivity in the Wye Valley as far as climbing access is concerned.

The Wye Valley SSSI designation seems (at least to me as a non-expert) to be almost exclusively concerned with a wide range of trees and flowering plants.  This isn't necessarily incompatible with climbing on a small expanse of previously quarried rock. Equally, it could be harder to justify if the area around the base contains a significant proportion of the specifically listed flowering plants.

However, compared to lots of activities, sport climbing is highly land efficient. The entire area at the base of the routes utilised by climbers probably amounts to no more than 1% of the nearly 2 hectare site. 

On the issue of climbers attempting to access the area, bans on climbing are notorious hard implement, especially overnight. Human nature means that people react badly to change and being told what do, so some regular visitors who have climbed there occasionally for 20+ years will no doubt take exception to the abrupt change. Secondly, people with a genuine expectation that they are entitled to climb there based on a (now outdated) guidebook may initially have a similar attitude and attempt to ignore signs.

Given that the latest and probably most popular guidebook to the area going forward (Rockfax Peak Limestone) was only published last year with no access restrictions noted and probably won't be updated for perhaps 8 years, I think the landowner might be making a rod for his own back for the next few years by trying to enforce a complete ban through fencing off access.

Whatever action is taken as regards publicity by the BMC, it is just inevitable that over the next decade many, many hundreds of perfectly well intentioned people will turn up intending to climb. The longer a ban is enforced, the lower the numbers will be, but it's not an issue that will disappear any time soon.

If someone wants to spend a large part of their life going forward telling people to "get off my land" that's absolutely their right within England but changing something after 25 years and not expecting potentially substantial problems is being rather naive.

It would be nice to think that some accommodation would be possible, but unfortunately human nature being what it is I rather doubt it.

 Karlos123 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Graeme Hammond:

I contacted Rob on 28 Feb 2021 and received no response

 Becky E 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Karlos123:

> I contacted Rob on 28 Feb 2021 and received no response

It may have got lost in furlough stuff - I've contacted him to flag it up again.

I really hope this can be resolved without banning climbing altogether.  I'm sure it's possible.

 Karlos123 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

Don't really appreciate the get off my land title ;-P, I contacted the BMA back in Feb to try and start at least a dialogue on the subject but after an initial response I got no further replies its a bit hard having a one way conversation. And there is a huge difference between some people still accessing the land and it being actively advertised as a free for all. regarding fencing our insurance insists on the land being fenced off and we need it to hold the sheep in as they notoriously will not do as they are told.        

In reply to Karlos123:

You might find sheep and climbers have the same aptitude in being told what to do, but I do hope it could be worked out for the benefit of all, but your land and your livelihood just our pleasure.

In reply to Karlos123:

I've created a new crag entry for this ( Blatant Buttress & Blackwell Halt) and moved the existing climbs out of Cheedale Upper since there is a separate BMC RAD entry for this and it can be managed by that correctly.

If you submit a change here it will replicate on UKC:
https://thebmc.co.uk/modules/RAD/View.aspx?id=5569

 Karlos123 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Paul Phillips - UKC and UKH:

Thank you, hopefully something can be worked out that will work for all or at least a compromise. What we do with the land is totally dependent on Natural England's approval and our insurance company agreeing. 

But I will try and get some sort of agreement if the BMA do indeed contact me 

Karl

 webbo 05 Apr 2021
In reply to Karlos123:

Karl if you are contacting the BMA they might be a bit confused as that is the British Medical Association.You should be trying to contact the British Mountaineering Council. Unless you are wanting  to sue the local GP who has been trespassing on your land.

 Tom V 05 Apr 2021
In reply to webbo:

 I  don't think that taking the piss out of a landowner is a useful first step any  potentialy delicate access negotiation.

In reply to Karlos123:

Hopefully an agreement can be found, I know several place where SSSI status and climbing  can peacefully co-exist. I can’t speak for the BMC but I know they can be stretched thin right now. For what it’s worth I enjoyed climbing at Blackwell Halt and would like to one day again. Thanks for coming on and explaining.

 Boy Global Crag Moderator 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Karlos123:

Hi, I've just seen this discussion and emailed you regarding. Apologies for my silly email address (I set it up when i was 16). Hopefully we can work something out.

Regards

Jon Fullwood

 Karlos123 06 Apr 2021
In reply to webbo:

Bloody GP's coming over here and performing operations on my land, GET OFF MY LAAAAAAAND 

In reply to Karlos123:

"Bloody GP's coming over here and performing operations on my land, GET OFF MY LAAAAAAAND"

Bravo!

And thanks for coming on here and having an open conversation about the situation with climbers. As with all walks of life, some climbers are selfish tossers, but the vast majority of us want to get along with everyone else, and especially those who own the land we would like access to. Hopefully a solution that works for everyone can be found in due course.

I'm spending 10 days in the Peak District as soon as restrictions ease on the 12th, and was originally planning to go to Blackwell Halt. We'll now be giving it a miss, and hoping that access can be restored at some time in the future. At the very least, that's 2 fewer people than you would previously have had to shout at!

 Karlos123 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Tom V:

Thanks Tom, I am no climber I upset people by Green laning on a motorcycle instead. so am uncertain of all the different organizations and their acronyms (also Dyslexic so that dont help) I only found out about any of this after talking to a nice climber and he mentioned it, I did wonder where all the climbers were coming from.        

I really am not trying to upset anyone, we are decent folk trying to help preserve a SSSI. I do have to say every climber I have spoken too (so far) has been nothing but polite and helpful      

 Karlos123 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Thanks, I dont shout life is too short I set the hounds upon them, only problem is one of my hounds is so soft she would just get a fuss and then sod off (might stay longer if they have and share food), the other one is a total mentalist but unfortunately is a Jack Russell so as ferocious as she is its a bit ineffective in the setting upon folk. I need some kind of devil dogs all teeth and red eyed rage.

In reply to Karlos123:

I had a Jack Russell and know that cheese top trumps any "get off my land" request

 Neil Foster Global Crag Moderator  UKH Supporter 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Karlos123:

Hi Karlos

As above, thanks very much for coming on here and engaging positively with the climbers.  Your pocket of land was only developed for climbing relatively recently, at least compared to the other cliffs in Cheedale.  The first climbs were done at Blackwell Halt in 1995.  But it is a valuable resource for climbers, having climbs of a reasonable standard, as well as a fantastic setting with lovely views down the valley to Plum Buttress and beyond.

I know that occasionally other groups will find their way in there.  I was saddened to find some cans and bottles dumped just after the first lockdown last year – in fact Blackwell Halt was the first crag I visited, the very day we were ‘released’!  Anyway, I’m certain this rubbish wouldn’t have been left by climbers, and I gathered it up and carried it out.

I don’t know what stage you are at with installing the fence, but one suggestion you might consider is deciding now which access route you would favour if climbing was to be allowed to continue, and then incorporating a stile or an opening gate into the new fence at that point.  I’d hate you to find yourself in the situation where people were climbing your new fence and unwittingly causing damage, simply because they weren’t aware of a new access situation.  And if they followed the directions in the most recently published guidebooks – one as recent as 2000 - that could easily happen.

I’m sorry that you had difficulty opening at dialogue with Rob at the BMC.  I can only imagine that got lost in the furlough situation, as I know Rob wasn’t there for some months.  But I’m sure you will fine Rob and Jon very approachable when you do get to speak to them.

It is also likely that the BMC would be able to help out with the cost of a stile or gate, if that helped maintain access for climbing (I speak as a former Director).  However, if I’m speaking out of turn and such funds were not available, then I’m happy to pay for the stile or gate myself.

Cheers, Neil

 Karlos123 09:21 Wed
In reply to robert-hutton:

She would eat the cheese then attack so would need a steady supply of cheese, and wait until she is too full of cheese to move (she is already a bit tubby as she is getting old and fat (like me)) so shouldn't take too long 

 Karlos123 10:24 Wed
In reply to Neil Foster:

I am in contact with Jon Fullwood, and have given my reasoning for at this point for stopping climbing at this site these include ,there are access issues that I need to work on with a number of bodies, safety issues at the access site, and obviously my insurance company have a big say (i could only find one company that would insure the quarry) further even if I am the land owner Natural England have the final say on what I can and cant do. Totally agree regarding siting of any access, the active train track rout is totally out, we also have to take into consideration the folk living in the cottages so it would be wise if they were consulted, I work full time I have to complete the management tasks as agreed with natural England in the time frame provided I have no vehicular access rights so everything is wheelbarrow'd in, I have children and 2 dogs etc. etc. we all have busy lives, so we just ask for consideration while we work out WTF we need to do, we dont own loads of land just this piece, we are not rich, we dont do development, we live in a crappy area, this is our retirement dream of having a little bit of land we can enjoy and be enjoyed by the animals that live on it, so far Badgers, foxes (obviously grey squirrels) and a young female Muntjac deer have been seen and positively identified. as for paying for anything I would not ask or expect you to foot the bill for anything although its a kind offer (help carrying it in however is a different matter ;-p)

So in short please avoid the area at this time while we work with the BMC, Natural England etc. to see what can be done. 

Karl                

Of all access threads I have ever read, especially ones where access may be threatened, this has been a complete pleasure to read. Karl, your attitude is refreshing!

 spenser 19:10 Wed
In reply to Karlos123:

Climbers are not averse to carrying things if it means we get to go climbing! It's good to see a landowner engaging with the community in a positive manner, hopefully access can be regained.

In reply to Karlos123:

Hi Karlos. In terms of your concerns over insuring the quarry - I suspect you might not have quite as many worries as you think. I'm no expert, but I do know that many landowners have been pacified by a legal precedent/principle of "volenti non fit injuria". The BMC's legal advisers can give you the official lowdown, but essentially this translates as "The willing cannot be injured in law" - which in practical terms means that if I go climbing at BH, and a rock lands on my head it's my own stupid fault for engaging in an activity with known and obvious dangers, at a quarry that has clear hazards. 

The case law emerged from a guy diving head first into a lake owned by a Cheshire council. He hadn't checked the depth and sadly for him, it was about 18 inches deep and he broke his neck. The High Court ruled on appeal that he was not entitled to any damages based on the volenti thing.

TTFN

 Becky E 22:33 Thu
In reply to Frank the Husky & Karlos123:

Karl

Not sure if this is the latest version but there is a short article from 2014 with a link to a pdf document about landowner liability that might be of interest.

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/why-rock-climbers-arent-a-liability

 Karlos123 14:21 Sat
In reply to Keith Hague:

This is more in reply to all really, the BMC (NOT BMA they were busy for some reason) and myself have arranged a meeting at the site to discuss access and insurance etc. I do still ask for folk to avoid the site until we can be assured that its safe to access the land. My wife and I (mostly the wife to be fair) think it would be a good thing to allow access (as long as Natural England are on board) to the site for climbing so the stance now is working towards access. No idea what form this will take and there will have to be rules (nothing weird no one has to sacrifice a chicken or anything to get in) more like no camping no fires etc. again not sure if Natural England will have ideas when people can climb but as far as we (my wife) are concerned we would only limit it to if I need to work on the land and it could put people in danger we would ask people not to climb (no idea how this would work but we can work something out) we have a way to go but hopefully soon ourselves and the BMC can  give more positive news.       

In reply to Karlos123:

I will give every green laner a smile and a friendly wave from now on, thanks for understanding from a climbing users point of view and hopefully users will understand using it from yours.

In reply to Karlos123:

Your handling of this is a great example of thoughtful land-ownership, thank you. I hope the climbing community acts with similar consideration.

 Toccata 21:32 Sat
In reply to Karlos123:

Should you need person-power to install stiles or fencing to ensure access then please get in touch.


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