A helpful act for paths

30 years on from the “Rights of Way” Act 1990 but here in Kirklees they haven’t heard of it!


In November 1987, the late Brett Collier, the Lincolnshire Ramblers’ path-champion, led the Conservative MP for Gainsborough and Horncastle, Edward Leigh, on a walk across local farmland.  Edward saw at first hand the constant issues which walkers and riders in the county faced: ploughed and deeply-rutted paths across large fields, unrestored and unmarked.  At another time of year he would have had to negotiate impenetrable crops.

This outing was a wise move on Brett’s part.  Three years later Edward came fifth in the ballot for private member’s bills.  Remembering his walk he turned to the Ramblers for advice on the bill he might introduce.

Draft bill
Coincidentally, the Ramblers had been working with other organisations on legislation to strengthen the law against ploughing and cropping of paths and were able to hand him a draft bill.  He introduced this into parliament—and the result was the Rights of Way Act, which…

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Kirklees Claim To Have 91% Obstruction Success Rate Looks Dodgy


stile2 (1 of 1)

Previously on PathWatch we reported on the astonishing claim made by Councillor Rob Walker (Kirklees Cabinet Member for Environment) that the Council has a  91% Success Rate  in removing public rights of way obstructions. A claim that needed it’s surface scratching to see what’s underneath if ever there was one.

So via the Freedom of Information Act PathWatch asked our slippery bureaucrats a simple starter for 10 question.

At Kirklees Cabinet on 2nd June 2020 Cllr Robert Walker claimed that  of 114 prow obstructions reported to Kirklees since 2017 a total of 104 had been successfully resolved. Please provide me with information you hold that substantiates this claim. Please identify the path numbers, locations and nature of obstructions and what action was taken.

Any reasonable person might expect to receive a copy of some very straight forward data. Perhaps a print out from the councils database showing the 114 reported obstructions identified by their path number, a location and the nature of the obstruction. There could even be a handy column in this print out highlighting the 104 paths where obstructions had been removed. How hard can it be path pickers?

Here is the Councils waffling,vague, Johnsonesque reply.

Cllr Walker’s response of 2 June 2020 was provided following a discussion between the Greenspace Environmental Action Manager and the Greenspace Operational Manager, which included considering a spreadsheet of requests from one specific organisation and various other records of PROW issue reports to the Council. 

The text of the response was sent to the Strategic Director on 28 May and forwarded to Cllr Walker that same day. 

The Council does not hold a breakdown of the figures given.

So the Council holds no breakdown of the figures? How then has it come to the conclusion that out of 114 obstructions reported 104 have been resolved? It would seem  the council are making a claim and have not or cannot provide any hard data to substantiate it.

The way this has been dealt with displays the usual contempt for the public. It would also seem that council staff, including a Strategic Director and several managers, are more than happy to provide a Kirklees Cabinet member with information for public consumption that they cannot explain or substantiate in any meaningful way.

The iniquitous effect of the answer provided by Councillor Walker at Cabinet on June 2nd is one of positivity and a high level of performance in keeping public rights of way obstruction free in Kirklees. The truth is somewhere at the other end of the spectrum.







How’s Holmfirth 135 Doing This year?

Hol 135

After watching dear old Footpath 135 disappearing last September in  Holmfirth Footpath 135 Goes Under The Plough. I think we are due an update.

PathWatch has monitored this route for 4 years and once again there has been no reinstatement of the path following ploughing and cropping within the 14 days required by law. Or at all in fact.

Interestingly Kirklees have owned up to having visited the path but have proffered no further information. Perhaps it was for a ramble, picnic or to enjoy the view? It certainly does not appear to have been to discharge the authorities duties under section 134 of the Highways Act.

The only difference on the ground is a crop of obstructing oats instead of barely and a wooden post at either end of the field  marking the start/finish of Footpath 135 through the crop. This has had the effect of concentrating walkers  onto a line and partly trampling the crop. It falls well short of full reinstatement within the legal definition. There should be a 1.2m clear width for Footpath 135 through this crop.

Public access to the English countryside by right is very limited. Most of it is on the country’s public rights of way network. A network that is legally recorded and protected to some extent by law. However,those laws are only as strong as the local authority enforcing them.We’re practically flatlining here in Kirklees as far as protecting public access rights to any consistent or reliable degree.

The law for cropping as laid out in section 134 could hardly be clearer to understand or enforce. Why is it so hard for Kirklees Council to apply?


Holmfirth Footpath 73 Gets A Makeover

new gate

It’s true to say that the old stone stile on Holmfirth Footpath 73 had let itself go a bit. It was falling over 25 years ago and the desperate addition of various posts and rails to add support to those droopy places and keep the sheep in also kept walkers out. In the end it was barely recognisable as a stile let alone usable.

Pleased to report that with the assistance of Kirklees Council the stile has had a makeover that would make Trinny & Susannah  weep. The disheveled,saggy and outdated stile has been transformed into a sleek stylish (pun intended) new gate.

Thank you 🙂

HOL 73 Stile 4
Hol 73
Holmfirth Footpath 73


Dodgy Gate & Stile On Pennine Way Black Hill

Pennine Way Kissing Gate

Way back in the winter before the virus and lockdown I watched a couple of blokes, in mostly awful weather, build a fence across Holme Moss, Black Hill and over towards Dovestones. It blocked off a few informal routes on access land and would at some point cross the Pennine Way on Black Hill and the old line of the Pennine Way heading north across Wessenden Head Moor.

The fencing is part of a scheme to restore moorland and keep grazing sheep out of a regenerating area. At SE079050 on the Pennine Way (Holmfirth Footpath 224) a Kissing gate has been placed on the path. Looks ok until you try to use it. A stiff spring on the gate makes it hard and the coral area is barely wide enough to squeeze through. Obviously built to keep some very determined sheep out.

At SE075049 on Holmfirth Footpath 206 a simple but tricky stile has been placed in the fence. Neither of these structures have any legal authority under the Highways Act and neither could be described as the least restrictive option or meeting BS5709.

It’s now up to Kirklees to negotiate better structures and to authorise them appropriately. Encouraging noises so far. So lets hope it doesn’t take to long.

Hol 205 stile SE07560491
Holmfirth 206 stile.


Holmfirth Byway 182 – Repaired. Thank You Kirklees

Holme Moss Byway
Completed works on Byway 182

Delighted to report that Holmfirth Byway 182 at the foot of Holme Moss has had substantial surface repairs and drainage works. It looks a good quality job which will benefit a wide range of users and not least the humble pedestrian. Thank you to the Kirklees frontline staff involved in this 🙂

Most of the damage to this byway has been caused by off road vehicles which inflicted deep ruts and craters on the surface and destroyed the drainage in the usual manner. Much damage has and is being done by these vehicles to adjacent land,all within the Peak District National Park. See photos at the foot of this piece.

Byway 182 is less than a mile away from the foot of the Ramsden Road Byway. It is interesting to compare and contrast how they have been dealt with. Ramsden Road is a 20 year saga of failure from Kirklees. There have been petitions for banning vehicles, reports to committee, aborted Traffic Regulation Orders,weak management, failed works,public meetings,interference from councillors supporting the motor vehicle lobby, £30k spent in the past 2 years (which has achieved very little) and laterly the formation of a friends group.

In contrast Byway 182 was reported as being out of repair less than 2 years ago. It has now been repaired to a good standard without any fuss.

I know which approach I prefer.

HOL 182 Surface
Typical condition of Holmfirth Byway 182 when reported as out of repair in November 2018.
Holme Moss Byway-2
Ongoing 4×4 damage to adjacent land
Holme Moss Byway-5
Ongoing 4×4 damage to adjacent land.Yellow sign warns against driving on this land.

Ramsden Road What’s Not been Done 3

Ramsden Road Phase 1 is complete. Right on cue some wet weather arrived at the end of last week. The first 2 new culverts off Whitegate Road worked fine but every other drainage intervention from there to the end of the flat section had some problems. Fair enough there are bound to be some matters to address after any works on a site like this. However, I think the road is arguably worse now than previously (apart from the filled in craters).The poor quality of the drainage works has the potential to cause further damage if not addressed.The photos speak for themselves. This is after one wet day in June.

Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-19
Just off Whitegate Road. Nowhere for standing water to go. It will come over the road through the winter.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-15
New drain completely blocked in one week
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-21
Water directed over top of a new culvert already eroding back road edge. Sunday 3rd June 2020
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-9
Same culvert on Friday 8th June 2020.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-6
Water from new culvert backing up and discharging against wall footings.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-16
None of the grips cut in the road give anywhere for run off to go. It backs up against dry stones throughout the roads length.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-7
Reopened culvert but with nowhere for the water to drain away.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-3
Lots of surface water at the top of the hill section as a result of new & completed drainage not working effectively.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-4
End of new drainage ditch discharging water back onto Ramsden road at the top of the hill. Some of this water is pouring through adjacent private walls.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-2
Water from previous image escaping through dry stone wall.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-12
New surface already being cutback by traveling water. Again nowhere to go when it leaves the road.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-8
Yet another grip that has nowhere for the water to go.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20-14
New culvert but with nowhere for the water to drain away. In winter weather the pipe will surcharge from the other end and water will flow directly onto Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd 12_6_20
End result is a significant flow of water down the hill. This after one wet day. What will it be like in the winter?

You’d be daft to carry out any works on the Hill on the basis that drainage works above are completed and working.

Ramsden Road. What’s Not Been Done 2

Following on from Ramsden Road. What’s Not Been Done. The following photos show the current state of Ramsden Road  where it has been repaired & drained at a cost of £15k. Even after a modest amount of rain it clearly isn’t working. There is also damage by motorbikes to the new surface and fly tipping. Good money is being thrown after bad here and it is painful to watch.

Ramsden Rd June 20
Reopened culvert  with nowhere for the water to drain to. This could damage the wall and will surcharge back onto ramsden Road in wetter conditions.
Ramsden Rd June 20-4
Water running off Ramsden Road & eroding back the road edges. The culverts should have been retained with stone. The road levels here are low and the cause of this issue.Imagine a land rover driving on this edge.
Ramsden Rd June 20-2
A reopened culvert which discharges onto the adjacent drystone wall. The wall footings have been undercut in the recent works. Water accumulating here could undermine the wall over time and it will surcharge back onto Ramsden Road as it has nowhere else to go.
Ramsden Rd June 20-5
One of a number of basic grips cut into the verge of Ramsden Road (which was the best bit for pedestrians to walk on! ). Even after a very modest amount of rain water  accumulates at the base of adjacent dry stone wall. In wetter conditions the water will just back up onto Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd June 20-7
Another very basic grip. In 30 years I’ve never seen water accumulate at this point. Again it will surcharge back down Ramsden Road in wetter conditions.
Ramsden Rd June 20-9
Another reopened culvert but with nowhere for the water to get away.
Ramsden Rd June 20-6
Group of 8 motor bikes traveling at speed on Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd June 20-8
Damage by motor bikes to the new surface which has only been in place for 2 weeks. What will it be like after the winter?
Rams Rd-2
More motor bike damage. Where are pedestrians supposed to walk here?
Rams Rd
The yellow sandstone in the foreground here is the last remaining bit of the 2018 repairs. The grey stone beyond was put down just a couple of weeks ago and the potholing pattern caused by vehicles is already obvious.
Ramsden Road Flttipping 3_6_20
A very neat pile of fly tipping just inside the Peak District National Park section of Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd June 20-11
Same fly tipping 4 days later after a few 4×4 enthusiasts have driven through it.
Screenshot (13)
More rain is forecast over the next few days. Maybe it will wash the fly tipping away?

Huddersfield Byway 171 At Castle Hill Closure

Castle Hill shower
Clouds on the Castle Hill horizon with proposed access closure

Kirklees Council continue slipping discs bending over backwards to keep the Ramsden Road Byway open to damaging 4×4 vehicles,motorbikes and all the associated anti social behaviour that goes with this usage. However at the other end of the valley they are bending over backwards to…er…close Huddersfield Byway 171 because of …ahem….anti social behaviour,crime and damage associated with vehicular use!

Byway 171 is the popular vehicular access up onto Castle Hill and it has been reported this week that Kirklees will be erecting bollards and signs closing the byway overnight to motor vehicles. The issue was discussed at Kirklees Cabinet on 2nd June. What hasn’t been reported or discussed in detail is the legal mechanism by which the council could achieve this aim. Remember how the council legal department cocked up with the Temporary Traffic Regulation Order for Ramsden Road? This ultimately led to the “Friends” group approach.

Will the doggers & pikers of Huddersfield form a “Friends With Benifits”” group to save the Castle Hill byway? That might be one worth joining 🙂

Ramsden Road Flttipping 3_6_20
One of the obvious benifits of continued vehicular access to Ramsden Road.