"See Sense" on Edinburgh's Radical Road Closure, Urge Campaigners

© UKC News

Campaigners representing access and outdoor recreation today marked the fifth anniversary of the closure of Edinburgh's Radical Road by calling for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to "see sense" on their management of the iconic path and the once-popular bouldering venue beside it.

HES shut the 200-year-old path in September 2018 due to concerns about rockfall. Running below the dramatic escarpment of Salisbury Crags, the route was formerly one of the most popular ways up the urban mini-mountain of Arthur's Seat, a major attraction for visitors and local residents alike. The closure has also affected South Quarry, for many decades a favourite city centre bouldering venue.

Five years from its original closure the Radical Road remains blocked by metal fencing, under bylaws that exempt Holyrood Park from access rights enjoyed elsewhere in Scotland.

Visitors to Holyrood park are met by fences...  © Ramblers Scotland
Visitors to Holyrood park are met by fences...
© Ramblers Scotland
...and signs  © UKC News
...and signs

But ScotWays chair Katharine Taylor is concerned at the process under which the path was originally closed, and the precedent this might set.

"The Radical Road is a recorded right of way" she said.

"There is a process which should be followed before closing a right of way, but this path was blocked unilaterally without using formal procedures and there has been little engagement since. We acknowledge that HES has an obligation to ensure public safety, but landowners and managers in Scotland also have a legal duty and responsibility not to obstruct or deny public access unnecessarily. It is very disappointing that a national agency has closed a popular right of way in our capital city, right next to our Parliament building. If it can happen here, what protection is there for other, less well-known rights of way?" 

Groups including Ramblers Scotland, Cockburn Association, Edinburgh Geological Society, Mountaineering Scotland and ScotWays are urging HES to make a 'more holistic' assessment of risks, weighing the low risk of rockfall injury against the harm the closure causes to the economy, landscape, tourism and people's health and wellbeing.

Leaders of these groups met at the path today to call for urgent HES action and to discuss options. They agreed to begin running their own process to consult those affected by the closure of Radical Road, to which HES will be invited.

South Quarry is set back, and poses no danger of rockfall onto the Radical Road  © Dan Bailey
South Quarry is set back, and poses no danger of rockfall onto the Radical Road
© Dan Bailey

"It is farcical that Historic Environment Scotland has failed to reopen the Radical Road, following half a decade of missed deadlines and broken promises" said Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy.

"It is a national embarrassment that the body tasked with caring for and promoting Scotland's historic environment has left this iconic 200-year-old path shut away behind ugly fences for five years, with no end in sight. HES must immediately see sense and stop managing this world-famous geological feature like a crumbling historic building. Residents and tourists should be advised of the risks then allowed to make informed decisions, like everywhere else in Scotland." 

During meetings in summer 2022, HES committed to publishing a park management plan by autumn 2022 and to keep communicating with stakeholders. Since then, there has been no update to the campaign partners.

HES' own risk assessment fails to mention that outdoor recreation is enjoyed at people's own risk across Scotland every day, point out the groups. This includes popular sites where signage is used to advise of potential risks such as cliffs, tides or forestry and farming.

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12 Sep, 2023

Sounds like the usual office-bound, mask-wearing, pen-pushing, Skoda-driving, fun-prevention bureaucrats who have absolutely zero idea of outdoor recreation and what risks it entails. Very similar to erecting the fences around Dali-s Hole all those years ago at Dinorwig Slate Quarries.... Hence, the route name "F@#k les Cloitures!"

A knee-jerk reaction based on no credible assessment of the risks (if any) that are involved and allowing the public to evaluate and make their own choices.

And, yes, we can always cite that "old chestnut" of legal liability... but, c'mon! Seriously, is anyone going to sue Holyrood Park if a pebble rolls down the hillside and lands at their feet?! Risk assessments in this situation are very "flimsy", based on not much and, I suspect in the very "low-risk" category. I imagine there's more risk of falling stones and rocks on Marine Drive!!

Common-sense needs to prevail here and early retirement offered to the "jobs-worth" who signed off the closure in the first place!!

12 Sep, 2023

Come on, they have discovered something serious going on. At the same time it was found out that 80 of the buildings in their care and their car parks had all suddenly deteriorated and were about to fall over, or something.

Oh and it's an Audi BTW.

13 Sep, 2023

Dweebie people working in local government, have their wife and 2.4 children, enjoy visits to the library and have reached the end of their biological purpose and now waiting to die.

Audi you say! Which model? Surely not an A4 Tdi Tourer ...... the "sensible" person's choice, in Forest Green paint!? Arrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!

13 Sep, 2023

As much as I enjoy your stream of consciousness shouty rants, I feel compelled to point out HES have nothing to do with local government.

15 Sep, 2023

Yeah, apologies Ebdon and to local government workers. Maybe I should have said "employees in positions of officialdom" with their little 'clippy' plastic ID cards/photos, making decisions for us plebs! In addition, thank God I didn't mention their second (the wife's) car possibly being a Nissan 'Sunny!" That would have got me into all sorts of bother and criticism! Phew!!!

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