Welcome to Ramblers Yorkshire
Welcome to the website of the West Riding Area of the Ramblers' Association. The West Riding Area takes its name from the days when Yorkshire was divided into three “ridings” a West Riding, North Riding and East Riding. The territory which the West Riding Area looks after on behalf of its members and the walking community is centred on Leeds and Bradford, and extends from Ingleton to Pontefract, and from Holmfirth to Wensleydale.
The landscape of the West Riding Area is attractive and varied. There are the high Pennine hills and moors, and these are incised by attractive steep-sided and well-wooded valleys. On lower ground there is a well-cultivated undulating landscape, much of which is surprisingly enjoyable when explored on foot. A great bonus of being in West Yorkshire is that there is attractive scenery on the doorstep of all the large towns, so there is no need to travel far for a good country walk. There are also many major scenic attractions, and these include The Three Peaks, Malham Cove, Fountains Abbey (a world heritage site), the Bronte Moors, and Hardcastle Crags near Hebden Bridge.
There is an extensive programme of walks exploring this attractive countryside, with distances to suit all capabilities. On Saturdays and Sundays several walks are organised, and there are also walks on weekdays. Monthly coach rambles often visit places further afield. The popular Take A Hike Group organises walks and social events for members in their 20s and 30s.
BURLEY BRIDGE APPEAL
Please support the appeal. If even half of the 2500 or more West Riding Ramblers who signed the Burley Bridge petition a few years ago now chip in with a fiver (actual or pledge), that gives the appeal a big surge towards raising the £30,000 needed to take it to the planning approval stage. If you could stretch to a tenner, that’s even better. As reported in the last West Riding Rambler, £10,000 has already been pledged by an anonymous donor and this has given the appeal a tremendous boost. A Burley Bridge Appeal letter has been delivered to the home of every resident in Burley, as a result of which a further £3000 has been raised.
The Ramblers’ Association has consistently given strong support to the campaign for a footbridge across the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale. Yes, we can manage without it, and always have done. But there is no doubt at all that a bridge across the river at Burley will be well-used by walkers, both local walkers and walkers from Leeds and Bradford. It will provide an attractive direct route to the beautiful Washburn Valley and surrounding moors. And Burley with its excellent rail and bus links, as well as pubs and cafes, will be an ideal place for starting and finishing walks.
The planned bridge across the River Wharfe is a minimal structure, a pedestrians only suspension bridge directly above the present right of way on the stepping stones, and it will fit in snugly with the rural ambience of the site at Greenholme, approximately half a mile from the centre of Burley.
Contributions/pledges to “BURLEY BRIDGE APPEAL, c/o 23, Hall Drive, Burley-in-Wharfedale, LS29 7LR
Shock Ramblers report on state of local paths
There is an illegal obstruction on every two miles of local rights of way according to a Ramblers' Association footpath report.
This shock finding is based on a detailed, extensive survey of local paths carried out by the Ramblers last summer and autumn, the results of which have just been published. Members of the the Ramblers surveyed 478 miles of public footpaths, bridleways, and other routes with public access, and checked paths in rural areas of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, and adjacent parts of North Yorkshire. A total of 248 illegal obstructions were recorded, and included paths blocked by fences and walls, dangerous stiles, locked gates, paths blocked by crops, impenetrable vegetation, unauthorised diversions, and aggressive dogs. As well as illegal obstructions, the Ramblers found many more instances where paths were difficult to use because of poor signposting, and stiles and gates in poor repair.
Mike Church, chair of the West Riding Area of the Ramblers said: “This meticulous survey that we have just carried out shows that much of the local rights of way network is in poor condition. Many of our paths are difficult to use, and some are completely impossible. The results of this survey should be a wake-up call to local authorities, and tell them to budget enough money to keep their paths in good condition. In many cases they are not even complying with their statutory duties. Good public footpaths are a valuable local recreational amenity, and should be looked after properly. At present, people are being discouraged from using a lot of them.”
Mike Church added: “We do not wish to criticise the local authority rights of way staff. They are as committed to good paths as we are, but they are not allocated enough funding to do the job properly”.
The Ramblers footpath survey will continue over the next few years. This year it is expected that over 600 miles of rights of way will be checked, and the survey is being extended to rural parts of the Wakefield local authority.
The Ramblers have for many years provided practical working parties to deal with small scale footpath problems such as clearing vegetation and repairing stiles, and urge local authorities to continue to make use of this valuable voluntary resource.
Washburn Bridges to be replaced soon
Two of the three bridges (GR 178525 and GR 179522) across Timble Gill Beck in the Washburn Valley which were swept away in a flash flood on 22nd June 2009 are likely to be replaced very soon. Lower down the Timble Gill Beck, the bridge that was formerly at GR 182522 on the path from Timble to Washburn Farm will not be considered by NYCC for replacement till 2013/14.
Bridge swept away in flash flood now restored
The footbridge taking the Nidderdale Way over the Darley Beck has now been reinstated. It was washed away by a recent flood (see July WRR). North Yorkshire CC footpath rangers were able to retrieve the bridge, and there was only minor damage, it was decidede to repair it and rebuild the abutment. Access to the site was hampered by uncut hay meadows as a result of the wet summer, and a tree that had fallen across the beck in the flood.
Thanks to Nicky Bunting, NYCC Countryside Ranger for this information. North Yorkshire CC is to be commended for resoring the bridge so quickly.
PATHS PUT AT RISK BY COUNCIL CUTS
A recent report compiled by Ramblers staff at Central Office has exposed the alarming extent of local authority cuts to rights of way funding, and the impact it is having on walking and tourism.
Using evidence obtained from a Freedom of Information request the report shows that over 70% of councils in England have cut their rights of way budget over the last three years. Of these 41% of councils have have cut their budgets by more than 20% with 11% of councils reducing funding by more than half.
In West Riding Area between 2009 and 2012 Kirklees reduced its funding by 22.70% and lost 3 staff; Calderdale reduced its funding by 20.47% ; North Yorkshire reduced its funding by 14%; Leeds reduced its funding by 9.19%; Bradford reduced its funding by 8.36%. But, bucking the trend, Wakefield increased its funding over all between 2009 and 2012 by 8% , and, for information, Barnsley increased its funding by 23.41%. So the “cuts” do not automatically mean that rights of way funding has to be reduced!
The worst councils in England as a whole were Bolton, Cumbria, Devon, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Medway, Norfolk, Redcar & Cleveland, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of paths in their area, and it is clear that in many instances they are already failing in this duty, and that cuts in funding are being imposed on a path network that has already fallen into disrepair. The recent West Riding Area Footpath Survey which covered nearly 500 miles of paths showed that there was an illegal obstruction less than every two miles. Local authorities are not making enough funding available to comply with their statutory duties, and that is a matter of serious public concern. It is of course no criticism of local authority rights of way staff who are doing a good job in difficult circumstances.
A Central Office press release on the council funding cuts generated a lot of local media publicity with a lengthy article in the Yorkshire Post on 26th October and a television report on BBC North.
Stepping Out From Leeds and Bradford by Keith Wadd
TWENTY GOOD WALKS AROUND 11 MILES IN LENGTH WITHIN EASY REACH OF LEEDS AND BRADFORD. All walks have a detailed description, map and colour photograph of a feature of interest. Price £7.50 from retail outlets. Special discounted postage free offer of £5 for Ramblers' Association members.