The popular Whinstone Lee Tor path in the Peak District has been extensively re-surfaced; but some walkers and runners lament the change, branding the result an eyesore.
The 2.5km permissive path on Moscar Moor, which runs along Derwent Edge above the Ladybower Reservoir, has been resurfaced with a mixture of gritstone aggregate and pitching stone.
Billed as a necessary measure to protect the local SSSI and undo years of path erosion, the work has been carried out by contractors Conservefor Ltd, working for the Moors for the Future Partnership with funding from Natural England.
Ginny Hinton, Natural England Team Leader, East Midlands said:
'It’s great that one project can provide many benefits; repair of important peat and vegetation, less disturbance for wildlife, a great path for walkers and a better landscape without scars.'
Work on the path is not yet finished, and will resume in July. Matt Buckler, conservation programme manager for Moors for the Future Partnership, has explained the delay: 'It’s unfortunate that work on the path had to stop' he said, 'but obviously we did not want to be disturbing the important bird population during the bird breeding season.'
Time and the weather are likely to soften its appearance. But in its present state many visitors have found it jarring, with critics online condemning the work, variously, as a 'motorway', 'out of keeping', and far worse things.
'I was up there checking our Peak photography guidebook' Mick Ryan of fotoVUE told us.
'It’s one of my favourite areas in the Peak and is well loved by climbers, walkers, mountain bikers, fell runners and photographers - although rarely crowded, except when the Lancaster bombers do a flight over the Derwent dams. It has a wild untamed feel despite being close to Sheffield - and stunning views of course.'
'Even if you aren’t familiar with Derwent Edge, the new path is an eyesore at the moment. It looks like the yellow brick road, a real blot on the landscape. Let’s hope when they have finished work it melds in with the landscape as the path made from mill flagstones has beyond the Salt Cellar. I would like to hear the justification for the new path and hope that they don’t ‘motorise’ the path from Devil’s bridge.'
We asked Moors for the Future to answer peoples' criticisms. Here is their response:
What Moors for the Future say
UKH: Why was the resurfacing deemed necessary – what was it like before?
MFTF: Whinston Lee Tor is a popular permissive path on Moscar Moor, providing one of the Peak District’s most stunning upland viewpoints overlooking Ladybower Reservoir.
The restoration work, including resurfacing of the path, is necessary to halt the extensive erosion along the route and preserve habitats while continuing to provide access for walkers. The Peak District and South Pennine Moors support vital upland habitats and species.
Moors for the Future also sent us these photos of the same stretch of path, taken each side of the work being carried out:
UKH: What work is still yet to be done on the path? And are the agencies involved happy with the result of the work so far?
MFTF: In total a 2500 metre stretch will be resurfaced with a mixture of gritstone aggregate and pitching stone. The majority of the aggregate used has been taken from the surrounding sub soil and will turn grey overtime.
Almost 90% of the works proposed have been completed so far. Work had to stop for the bird nesting season and will resume in July 2015, to complete the remaining 10% of works.
While the vast majority of work has been completed successfully it is acknowledged that more work is needed on a limited number of sections. Surveys are being carried out in June to look at what measures will be undertaken to improve the integration and naturalisation at these locations to manage and address concerns raised by Moors for the Future Partnership, Natural England and regular users of the path.
UKH: How would you respond to criticisms of the resurfaced path’s appearance?
MFTF: Over time the path will integrate into the natural landscape as re-vegetation takes place and materials weather. As with any work it takes time to bed in. The materials used on site have been carefully chosen to weather. Over the coming months vegetation re-growth will also help the path to blend into its surroundings.