A Craven Diary: Problems with blocked paths while driving 2,022 miles


So how easy is it to report “problems” with a public right of way? It’s not…

Armed with my OS Map app, I’m running into a lot of “problems” – the beauty of the app is that there’s no argument, you can see exactly where the path should be, even if it doesn’t appears to be no sign of a jamb, gate or gap in a wall.

And there are many. There are very few signs, in my experience, far from the most popular routes of course. I don’t mind that much, map reading skills will sort that out, and as long as you have the receipt and don’t forget to download before you go, the map apps are a huge help. But what annoys me are the barbed wire above a path, or a wall impossible to climb for the more agile, not to mention the fact that you have a dog with you.

And really, woe betide anyone responsible for bringing down a farmer’s wall while trying to scale it.

So, facing a wall and a wire at the top where a stud should have been, I took pictures, included the grid reference, OS card number and parish, and sent them to the email address on the North Yorkshire County Council website.

The answer? I hadn’t included enough details and unless I did, my file would be closed in four weeks.

There was nothing to say about the details I had missed, just a link redirecting me to the website.

I finally managed to get all the necessary information and was told that my case was being investigated and in all likelihood the owner would be contacted – waiting to see what action, if any appropriate, will be taken; and I wonder if this is a case where the council is relying on the co-operation of the landowner to rectify a situation which may well have been going on for many, many years.

On its ‘Maintenance of Rights of Way’ page, North Yorkshire says landowners, council and the public all have responsibilities in relation to public rights of way. I fully appreciate the responsibilities of the public, leaving the gates as you find them, not damaging the crops and bringing the trash home, but what about the landowners?

It is the responsibility of the landowners to maintain the jambs and gates, and the council says all rights of way must be marked where they leave the roads – it is currently replacing any that are missing and damaged, and asking people to point out the ones he missed.

Outside the national parks, rights-of-way are maintained by campaign access agents, forest rangers and a team of campaign volunteers.

Work includes repairing broken jambs and gates and installing signage and beacons; they also liaise with landowners to troubleshoot problems, check obstructions, and survey trails. Volunteers are an integral part of what the council does with its rights of way; and once upon a time, parish councils ‘walked’ rights of way through his plot, ensuring they were passable – perhaps some still do.

As with so many things, it will be a resource issue where not all rights of way in the county are regularly checked, and it will be up to the public to keep tabs on routes and report any issues; otherwise, we’ll be left with only the busiest paths, and they’ll get too busy, which isn’t a good thing for anyone.

MEANWHILE, my attempt to walk 2,000 miles in 2022 is accelerating, and so well in fact that I have now increased it to 2,022 miles.

At the time of this writing on June 8, I had logged 927 miles – I just needed to cross the 1,000 mark by the end of June.

To give it a little boost I spent the Saturday of the Platinum Jubilee weekend walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks with my 22 year old son.

It was very quiet, except around Ribblehead, and we got there in three minutes in less than 11 hours, and it was with a dash – or more precisely from me, a chaotic jog, until the arrival at Horton station.

My FitBit tells me it’s 28 miles, so a bit longer than my usual walk, and of course there’s the added excitement of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Saturday was very windy which put me on my hands and knees on the final run to the summit of Ingleborough, I really didn’t want to blow myself up.

As with every time I have climbed the peaks, either together or separately, I spotted a small child rushing up one of the peaks in boots, completely bewildered, and was also overtaken by a family of five with the father carrying a substantial toddler on his back. There was also the family of four, with a grumpy teenager several feet behind and hating every minute. My son, as we approached Horton, announced that he would go for a run when we got home to “stretch his legs”.

I fundraise for the Alzheimer’s Society and Craven’s two rescue teams, the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association and the Cave Rescue Organization.

You can donate online to: Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lesley-tate1

For the Alzheimer Society: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lesley-tate2

And for Cave Rescue Organization: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lesley-tate3

FINALLY, I couldn’t pass up the Diamond Jubilee celebrations without mentioning something included in the Craven Herald’s report on the coronation itself, in June 1953.

A member of Barnoldswick Urban District council at a coronation week meeting objected to the council chamber’s tired ashtrays – battered and broken from years of service.

The good adviser asked the question – did such ashtrays uphold the dignity of the council, and others, felt like him, it certainly was not.

The council decided to replace the ashtrays with new ones – in remembrance of the coronation, and so they would “pass down to posterity”. I wonder if they still exist somewhere.


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