Friday, 26 April 2013

Stanage Long Causeway - Conservation Interest Document

Earlier today I googled for "Stanage SSSI" as I wanted to try and establish the SSSI boundary in relation to the Long Causeway.  At the top of the search results was this link to a pdf file on the site, headed "Appendix 1 - Long Causeway - Conservation Interest".  I haven't yest been able to find out what it's an Appendix to or even if it's meant to be in the public domain but it makes interesting reading.  It's not a long document and below are are the opening paragraphs of each of its three main sections.

Ecological Interest
The whole route passes through the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Peak District Moors Special Protection Area (SPA), the Eastern Peak District Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Stanage Edge Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS), Section 3 Moorland/Natural Zone and the Dark Peak Nature Improvement Area (NIA)

Archaeological Interest
The route forms the boundary of two Historic Landscape Character (HLC) areas – Enclosed Moorland and Open Wastes and Common - and is considered to be of medieval origin. A section of paving to the north of the route is a Scheduled Monument (SM).

Landscape Interest
Long Causeway lies within the Natural Zone within the National Park and the Eastern Moors
Landscape Character Area (LCA).

The National Park is designated for its internationally and nationally important landscape.

I think perhaps the Peak District National Park Authority need to remind Derbyshire County Council of the above.

Yesterday, in an email to someone on this subject, I incorrectly asserted that DCC were one of the stakeholder organisations in the Sheffield Moors Partnership.  I've just checked the draft masterplan document and they are in fact not listed in this capacity.  I find this quite staggering given that a fair portion of the 56 square kms of the "Sheffield Moors" as defined in the draft masterplan lies within Derbyshire. Looking at the detailed map on the SMP website, I see now that the Long Causeway runs right along the boundary of the Partnership area, and it's unclear from the map whether the Causeway lies within their purview or not.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

More 'vandalism' of Stanage Long Causeway by DCC

Latest pictures of the resurfacing work that Derbyshire County Council are carrying out on the Long Causeway over Stanage.  This is mostly below the old gate posts towards Dennis Knoll car park but some larger rocks on the track up from the gate posts have been broken up now suggesting they are intending to continue their wanton destruction of this ancient byway.

Just above the gate posts looking towards Dennis Knoll

Looking back up the slope, showing the smashed up larger gritstone boulders

Below the gate posts looking back up the Causeway

Below the gate posts looking down the Causeway

I asked one of the guys working on this why they were doing it and I was told "because people wanted it".  When I ask which people, he said "Horse riders"

I don't know if that is the case and if so, if it is sufficient reason for creating this ugly scar through an SSSI.  I doubt that there are many walkers and almost certainly no mountain bikers want it.  I can't see the 4x4 drivers wanting it either - where is the challenge?

The next phase of work is to rebuild a retaining wall on the steep part of the Causeway running below the edge.  This will no doubt create a lot of damage to the adjacent moorland.  I can see the only need to rebuild the wall is to make it 'safe' for 4x4s.  If they re-open the Causeway to this group,  I imagine the amount of traffic will increase over previous levels.  If they cointinue the resurfacing up the top, it will practically be possible to drive from end to end in family car.

DCC is the county authority in whose region most of the UK's busiest national park lies yet they seem to be completely out of touch with how to preserve the natural or rural enviroments.

Why are theyu so intent on destroying this special place in the Peak District and why is the PDNPA allowing it to happen?  Surely they exist to protect the wild places within the Peak District National Park.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Scotland C2C Training on the NY Moors - Day 1

So Hilary collected her new custom hardtail from Eighteen last Thursday and we decided to test it and the BoB trailers with a two day ride round the Nork Yorks Moors.  Our route was to set out from the campsite in Great Broughton, ride the back lanes through Ingleby Greenhow and up the Ingleby Incline to the old North Eastern railway line which carried iron ore from Rosedale.  It finally closed in 1926.  There's some history about the Incline along with some old photos here.  The section from Bloworth Crossing east to Blakey Ridge is most notable as being the boring but fast bit of the Lyke Wake Walk you do through the night, unless you're perverse and do an east-west crossing, in which case you probably get to see it in daylight.  However, from Bloworth we would head south down Rudland Rigg, which separates Farndale and Bransdale and offers panoramic vistas into and across both.  We would then turn east on lanes and farm tracks to Hutton-le Hole and Lastingham before heading north onto another LRT to Ana Cross and Rosedale Chimney, with a wild camp somewhere on the southern end of the same disused railway track above Rosedale.  Sunday had a choice of routes depending on weather and how we felt.

The previous week I was doing a bit of research on the web, when I found a potential problem.  I rang Hilary.

I've just found out that the Ingleby Incline is 1 in 5 for almost a mile

Oh, that sounds bad

It's ok though. I've found a zigzag route up through the forest which leads to the top


We left the campsite at about 9.45, having had to faff with assembling trailers and some last minute decisions about gear to take, which probably added a kilo or two.  The ride to Ingleby Greenhow gave a splendid view of the Captain Cook memorial on Easby Moor and Roseberry Topping

Roseberry Topping

I'm still experimenting with the GoPro for the Scottish ride and mounted it under the saddle to get a view of the BoB trailer. The rear mud catcher gets in the way, so this kind of shot will only be possible when it's not wet or muddy.

Riding the lanes to Ingleby Greenhow

We cycled past the end of the bridleway to the Incline and straight on up a steepening track past a farm. As the farmer was there, I bid him a cheery good morning and asked

Is this the way into the forest?

It is but you'd be better off going up that way, pointing to the bridleway behind us leading up to the Ingleby Incline, especially with those trailers.  There are big rocks this way, and he made a kind of 'yeah big' gesture, the dimensions of which didn't look compatible with a BoB.

But the Incline is 1 in 5, I said, a slight whimper in my voice breaking through

It is, he said.  You're in for some pushing, he said,  But it will still be easier than going the other way.  I can just get to the first gate with my daughter on the trailer bike, he said

It turned out he was a keen cyclist, on and off road and he and Hilary exchanged coast to coast stories.  Then we got onto subject of the Moor To Sea trails and he mentioned that the Ingleby Incline was part of a new section they'd just established as another route to Dalby but the route wasn't shown on the website.  So having satisfied us with his credentials (!) we came to terms with the reality that the only way up was via the Incline.  We didn't make the first gate before we had to push but a BoB with camping gear is heavier than trail-a-bike with a daughter - it's a well known fact.

Ingleby Incline - the 'easy bit' below the gate.

The push below the gate was just the warm up for the main event.  It seems churlish to wish the sun hadn't been out but it was hot work.  I managed to ride a few 50yd sections but in the end just accepted defeat and as I shoved bike and BoB up the hill I passed the time trying to recall if anywhere along the Corryairick Pass was this steep.

Ingleby Incline - the 1 in 5 for almost a mile section

Ingleby Incline - the final push to the top

But we were rewarded by the views from the top

Hasty Bank from top of Ingleby Incline

Once we'd got our breath back, that is

Top of Ingleby Incline

With that behind us, we rode the short distance to Bloworth Crossing on dry tracks with the sun on our heads.

Bloworth Crossing
Rudland Rigg is essentially a long straight track running for just over 6 miles to the southern end of the moors, along a spine left over when glaciers carved out Farndale and Bransdale.  The surface of the LRT has improved at lot since we last rode it 18 months ago; the huge lakes have all been filled in for a start.  There still seems to be more uphill than the contours on the 1:50k would have you believe but it's easy riding and you can let your thoughts roam freely while soaking up the tranquillity of wild moorland, the silence broken only by the occasional call of the curlew, a dirt bike and a convoy of 4x4s.

Easy riding over the Moors

We had a brief stop along here to re-attach the back wheel on Hilary's bike.  It had come adrift when the special quick release for the BoB, which has lugs by which to attach the trailer, had worked loose. Although the BoB skewer is better made than the ones which came with the original trailers we bought off eBay last year, it's still the weak part in the whole design, in my opinion. It was a faff to get the wheel back in because the brake pads needed to be forced apart to re-insert the disk rotor.  We've started to build up a comprehensive set of tools and spares for Scotland and this episode re-affirmed the need to make sure we have enough tools, parts and skills to fix anything that can reasonably be fixed on the trail.  With the wheel back in place, I made sure the quick release was wellied down tightly and it was no further problem for the rest of the weekend.

The two miles of descent from the high point on Rudland Rigg down to the road afforded just enough of a technical challenge to practice avoiding rocks and drop offs with the trailer.

After a short road section, a bridleway and a brutal hill climb, we rolled into Hutton-le-Hole, a pretty village that offers a choice of places to stop for refreshment.  We called into the Forge Tea Rooms, which was staffed by a couple of Essex girls who plied us with tea and cake and filled up our water bottles.  Where we were intending to wild camp seemed a bit devoid of water sources, so I got the platypus filled up as well, giving me around 3kgs of extra ballast for the climb up to Ana Cross.  It's good to have a challenge.

Leaving H-le-H, we continued east to Lastingham where an LRT over Spaunton Moor heads north.  This was busy with walkers and although the climb is sustained (aka relentless), it can all be ridden towing the BoB, though we did pause for a jelly baby induced sugar rush on the way.

The track over Spaunton Moor to Ana Cross

Further J-Bs were consumed at Ana Cross along with a protein fix of cheese, chorizo and tuna, and I made a failed attempt to tweet this picture.

Ana Cross

The afternoon was wearing on and we'd done about 20 miles to this point.  I had a target of 25-27 miles in mind to put us somewhere on the disused railway above Rosedale for the night.  We pressed on northwards.  Beyond Rosedale Chimney Bank, where the road comes up a 1 in 3 out of Rosedale Abbey, we encountered very few people - a group of walkers, a runner and a couple of mountain bikers.  This was good because I wasn't really sure if we should be wild camping up here.  We reached a suitable spot, well it was idyllic actually, just after 4pm and laid out on the grass for an hour in the sun, when we thought it would be pretty safe to get the tents up.  Hilary found a stagnant pond with some water in, which she filtered in her Travel Tap, so I probably hadn't needed to carry the ballast but better that than going thirsty for the night.

There is an especially ugly fence here, which I'd noticed on a previous ride and when I went to investigate, I found it was surrounding a rather large deep hole in the ground from which emanated the sound of running water.  I couldn't find anything to throw down it to gauge the depth but I guessed it was at least 50ft.  Some Googling when I got back home came up with Sheriff's Pit, 270ft deep.  This was an old ironstone mine and at the base of the shaft, a horizontal drift driven along an ironstone outcrop, extends 1500ft to emerge out of the valley side.  There's a picture of the winding gear and buildings taken in 1911, the year it closed, along with some more history about the ironworks and railway here.

Wild camp above Rosedale
Part 2 to follow.

Distance: 24 miles
Ascent: 2750 ft



Bob Leakey

I've just read that Bob Leakey, a legendary figure in the exploration of caves in the Yorkshire Dales, died yesterday, aged 98.

A number of interviews with him, made in 1983 and 2010, exist in the BCRA audio archive.

In this one he talks to Geoff Yeadon about diving in Peak Cavern, meeting Eric Hensler exiting from one of the eponymous crawls he pushed in Gaping Gill,  just after had discovered it, and a run-in with Eli Simpson over cutting a length of BSA rope whilst exploring some avens beyond Sand Caverns also in GG.

This rather fine old survey * of Gaping Gill may be of help in locating some of the places mentioned in the interview.

*Requires Silverlight

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Changes along Stanage Causeway to Dennis Knoll

The ride to work this morning started off well.  I made good time to Redmires.

Logging on track to Stanage Pole

I noticed there was some new logging activity going on in the plantation by the side of the track up to the Pole and as I rode along the top, the sun properly broke through. 

Then I reached point where the causeway starts to drop below the Edge and I was a bit surprised to see just how much snow was across the track.

I was able to ride some of it.  Having spent last week riding snowy tracks in the Vosges, I felt I was trained up for this.  However, the combination of ruts, holes, icy hard pack punctuated by patches of soft snow, plus the proximity to a drop over the edge quickly led me to abandon that approach and walk it.

There were signs of a few mini-avalanches.  


As I walked over/around this one, I came to the conclusion that a mountain bike is not a good substitute for crampons.  But it was a fine adventure and I was in a happy, 'at peace with the world' frame of mind, in one of my favourite places, under blue skies and a shining sun.

Far side of the 'avalanche' - Stanage Causeway

Looking back up Stanage Causeway

Then I reached the old gate posts and found a new stone drainage channel had been built across the track. 

The first channel - by the old gate posts

A pipe has been installed further down, which is a much more 'user-friendly' solution

Further down the track, I found a second channel, which is no subtle affair.  It's certainly not been designed with mountain bikers in mind (unless you ride like Steve Peat). It's wide and deep with the leading and trailing edges lined with stone setts to form steep edges. There is no chance of just rolling up out of the thing, and the two rows of setts are inconveniently spaced apart so that the back wheel is descending as the front wheel has to rise out. 

The second channel

The second channel - another view showing position of  'kerbs' compared to axle spacing

On the way home that evening, I found this third channel under construction

It seems pretty clear that there has been no discussion with the local riders about this.  This part of the Causeway, down to Dennis Knoll, doesn't need resurfacing and it certainly doesn't need drainage channels.  There is never any serious ponding here.  The timing says it all.  DCC have some year end budget to use up, so they rushed this through without consultation or any real thought for the needs of the users.  And don't anyone even suggest that this makes the track wheelchair accessible.  It doesn't.  Not with those drainage channels.

They've taken a track that was fun and fast to ride and buggered it up the same way that was done across Houndkirk.

There were a couple of guys working on the track 'improvements', so I stopped to have a chat with one of them and express my dissatisfaction.  To begin with I thought he wasn't listening to me but in fairness he was just doing what he'd been told and had no awareness of how well it might actually work.  He said they might be able to build a by-pass track round each channel.  So we'll wait and see.