/ Nesting boxes at Limekilns

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davie.p. - on 08 Jun 2009
Very worryingly 3 large wooden nesting boxes have appeared on the South face of the Gellet Stone about halfway up.

There is one on either side of the crack of Red Flag and another in the square niche where the rings are.

So at present Wall Straight, Grasp the Nettle, Through the Motions, Dead Ringer etc are all unclimbable.
CurlyStevo - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:
Another attempt by the land owner to prevent climbing I take it.

Is it lawful for her to do this?

Can the boxes also be removed as long as they are not damaged, legally?

I take it the crag has been drilled for her to do this?
davie.p. - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to CurlyStevo: Yep, looks like the crag has been well and truly drilled.
Who is the landowner? I thought it was Lord Elgin.
Dave Kerr - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

Sad.
iceicebaby - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

WHAT!!!!!!!! I'm 5min away from the block - I'm off to inspect!!
andymoin - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: Err not good thought the problems at LK had been solved a long time ago... apparently not. Best course of action would be to remove boxes with out damaging them or the crag and get the mcofs involved.
Hay - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin:
There seems no reason that the boxes could not be in the trees.
What would be using these boxes?
Think it is important that they are moved before they become occupied.

Bruce
iceicebaby - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin:

Indeed. Me too. I'm about to head down the road - I'll take some photos.
ring ouzel on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: What kind of nestboxes are they? This is precisely the wrong time of year to be putting up nestboxes.

I remember climbing at Limekilns once many years ago - about 1981 I think.
MelH - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

What a weird thing to do!

I don't think I would take this into my own hands if I were you - think I would get MCofS involved asap. Taking them down may only serve to make a bad situation worse.

davie.p. - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel:No idea what kind of nest boxes they are - only that they are long and thin and made of wood and are brand spanking new and totally incongruous.

Especially when the surrounding forest is full of happy little birds nesting in the trees.
Looks like they drove a tractor or something up there today.

There has been quite a bit of activity on the estate over the last couple of months. Lord Elgin has put up lots of 'BROOMHALL PRIVACY ZONE' signs round his road (fair enough) and 'DANGER DISUSED QUARRY' round the climbing areas.
ring ouzel on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Long and thin sounds like the sort of thing you'd use for tawny owls, but they wont be used this year as the current owls will be busy rearing young. Tawny's are territorial too so they wont allow other owls into their space (they'll atack people as well if you go too close).

I think the MCofS route has some merit.
andymoin - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel: In reply to ring ouzel: Can some one with some first hand knowledge get in contact with the mcofs then, iceice or davie.p?

Guy to get in contact with is 'hebe at mcofs.org.uk'.
Hay - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin:
Hebe is a girl!
Is there not someone pretty high up in MCofS that lives in Limekilns?

Bruce
davie.p. - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin: Good idea and thanks for the contact details. I'll give them a phone/email tomorrow.

I live in Charlestown, right next to the Gellet stone so I don't mind being involved, and am happy to keep an eye on things.

I agree we should go down the MCofS route as any damage to 'their' property might seriously put the future of climbing here in serious danger.
Andy Moles - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

So by the time I head over tomorrow I can expect nice new tricam placements on Grasp the Nettle and Wall Straight then? ;)

Seriously though, when you say they make the routes unclimbable, just how big are these things? Guess I'll see for myself tomorrow...doesn't sound good.
Andy Moles - on 08 Jun 2009
Btw, excuse my ignorance but under what conditions is climbing at Limekilns acceptable if the landowner is against it? Is it the general right to roam in Scotland?
Hay - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andy moles:
Evening Andy....
There's a long history of access issues at the Kilns with grease being applied to all the holds and gamekeepers with shotguns etc. Think this was 80s-90s era...
Not such a problem now but climbing still impossible on a shoot day in pheasant season.

Bruce
Andy Moles - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to Hay:

Alright Bruce.

I knew there had been access problems but I'm wondering, given the latest, if someone was to tell me to bugger off while I'm climbing there what grounds I have for refusal?
Hay - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andy moles:
Don't think they can do that, even with nesting boxes up. Might all get a bit unpleasant though.
The gamekeeper once tried to scare off a local young tiger (who was 15 at the time) but the same game-y had not said anything to Rick Campbell who'd been at the crag all day. Strange that.
I think I'd probably stick to my guns if it were me.
I'm hoping to go up Wednesday AM to climb there. Had GTN on the list too...might stand on the nest box or put a sling round it!!

Bruce

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iceicebaby - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to andy moles:

I've just been down there for a look. I'm absolutely disgusted!!! They're huge! I was imagining them to be box shaped - but they are big elongated things over a metre long (obviously to obstruct as much crag as possible). I hope no more appear. They are well out of reach and have been put up with the help of a big tractor or something as there are huge tyre marks in the ground around the crag. The other (smaller) block is unaffected.

I've taken photos and emailed them to MCofS. I hope nobody touches the boxes for now though, that'd be a very bad move for what is once again a very fragile access situation!
andymoin - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to Hay: Didny know, always just assumed, ta.

In reply to iceicebaby: Cheers for mailing the mcofs let us know what you get back.

Hay - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
> (In reply to andy moles)
>
> I've taken photos and emailed them to MCofS. I hope nobody touches the boxes for now though, that'd be a very bad move for what is once again a very fragile access situation!

Good effort...sound like owl boxes right enough. I'd reckon they'll be immovable if they become occupied. MCofS will need to move pretty quick....

Bruce

iceicebaby - on 08 Jun 2009
In reply to Hay:

Aye, I often hear owls down there, so they are obviously doing just fine without silly boxes stuck half way up a cliff eh?!
andymoin - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

Isomnia and a thought.

If any ones climbing up the kilns and happens to have a roll of duck tape or something similar it may be worth blocking up the access hole on these things.

Not damaging them yet preventing anything from occupying them and making the situation more complicated.

A sleepy yet not asleep Andy
Slugain Howff - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Hay:
> (In reply to iceicebaby)
> [...]
>
> Good effort...sound like owl boxes right enough. I'd reckon they'll be immovable if they become occupied. MCofS will need to move pretty quick....
>
> Bruce

As has been mentioned already it's a bit late in the breeding season for birds to move into a nesting box now. A strange time to put them up other than to be provocative.

Andy Moles - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Slugain Howff:
> A strange time to put them up other than to be provocative.

I wonder if they were put up thinking that if climbers did mess with them it would provide a good excuse to get a proper ban installed (vandalism etc). From what folk have said it makes no other sense to have them there. Seems a good idea to leave them alone anyway. Pain in the arse.

Ian Jones on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

Hey iceicebabe,
Can you email us some of your photos?
I had the car yesterday, I could have took a look.
Definitely need to tread carefully here as the landowners could make things difficult. Having rights and principles won't do us any good if the landowner decides to spoil things with paint or whatever. I wonder what has provoked this? (apart from the obviously trampled fence?!)
davie.p. - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to andy moles:
> (In reply to davie.p.)
>
> Seriously though, when you say they make the routes unclimbable, just how big are these things?

Sorry - should have pointed out that these boxes are HUGE. Basically a foot high, a foot deep and then maybe 8' long, across the front of the Crag. On the back of the underside of them is a slot - which seems to be the only entry/exit.

You could probably still climb though and have a nice handy portaledge!





icehockeyhair - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

Don't know if anyone has already, but just in case I dropped an e-mail to Hebe at McofS to have a look at this thread.
el diablo - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: If they are that wide then they are not intended for owls, their boxes need to be aligned vertically.
jd
Mark Bull - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

> Sorry - should have pointed out that these boxes are HUGE. Basically a foot high, a foot deep and then maybe 8' long, across the front of the Crag. On the back of the underside of them is a slot - which seems to be the only entry/exit.


Perhaps the intended inhabitants are bats, rather than birds?
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to The Purple Pimpernel:

I've mailed you some photies... you'll be "f***ing disgusted" ;-) hehe.
Yeah its best not to touch them for now I think. I doubt any birds will move in at this time of year anyway. I might build a scare crow or make a fluorescent flag on top of the block to put them off!? The landowner is up to something - you should see all the new signs in the estate springing up of late....powertrip.
fimm on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

> On the back of the underside of them is a slot - which seems to be the only entry/exit.

That's a bat box, not a bird box.
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Mark Bull:

Good point. Maybe - there are a lot of bats down there as it is. They sometimes whizz by your head in a flash as you climb! There are loads of them though - they nest in the huge old Lime Kilns ruins beside Charlestown harbour, so I don't see the need for further nesting space in the form of boxes...
Martin W on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:
> Sorry - should have pointed out that these boxes are HUGE. Basically a foot high, a foot deep and then maybe 8' long, across the front of the Crag. On the back of the underside of them is a slot - which seems to be the only entry/exit.

Those sound rather like bat roosting boxes to me. If that's what they are then their installation is even more likely to result in a ban on climbing as bats are protected species and it's illegal to disturb a bat roost. (And before anyone starts on an anti-bat crusade, consider that each one eats thousands of midgies every night.) Could someone post some pictures of the boxes on UKC?

At the end of the day, the landowner can do anything they like with the crag so long as they comply with planning regulations, DEFRA rules and so forth. Just because we like to climb on the Gellet block doesn't give us any rights to have the routes preserved. All the SOAC gives us is a right of responsible access to the land (and the "obviously trampled fence" could be used as evidence that that right is not being exercised responsibly enough). The landowner could decide to quarry the block away for road stone and there's little we could do about it as climbers beyond lobbying via the MCofS. So let's do that.
ring ouzel on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Ah, that does not sound like an owl box, that sounds like a bat box. Bat boxes are usually nest box sized though (too large and they become too cold, bats need a narrow range of temperatures). They are usually erected in groups of three facing SW, SE and either NW or NE. Again though bats are already in their maternity roosts and the males wont start to swarm (only in some species) till September. Boxes are usually put up in Winter so the bats will find them, nicely weathered in, when they come out of hibernation in Spring.

However bats are strictly protected by European law so any disturbance is a crime. From reading this thread it seems to me that the person who put these up may have read, or been told, that bats are strictly protected and has put these boxes up to scare off climbers. Any bats use these and you can kiss goodbye to access. However I dont think the person understands bat biology though as they are going about it in the wrong way.

Photographs would good.
hth.
skog - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
Any chance you could upload the photos here for us to see? Or email them to me and I'll stick them up somewhere people can have a look, if you prefer (I'll mail you through the forums to give you my email address in case you want to do that).
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Martin W:

Ok hang on and I'll upload a photo into my gallery...it'll take a wee while to appear.

Cheers for info :(
ring ouzel on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Need to keep in mind the recent changes to the Habitats Directive (the UK was taken to court over breaches in the Directive and made to change it over a year ago, all derogations for lawful disturbance were removed). Luckily we are talking about Scotland here and SNH have issued guidance on this (are you listening Natural England?). The changes mean it is even more difficult to remove bats. If Limekilns is used as a roost it probably wont be as a breeding site, more likely to be a hibernaculum for Winter. The local bat group will have figures and should have count data for a few years. It might be worth approaching them. Perhaps they dont, perhaps access has been denied. Access denied to a European Protected Species? That would be useful.
Martin W on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel: I have e-mailed the contact given on the Bat Conservation Trust web site for the Fife & Kinross Bat Group, to see if they know anything about it.
ring ouzel on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Martin W: Good! Anne Youngman is the Scottish Bat Officer for BCT and would be worth contacting too.
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Martin W:

Good call. I've uploaded a photo, its just being slow to appear.
neil the weak - on 09 Jun 2009
Hi Guys.

Andy Moles just rang me from Limekilns 10 mintues ago to ask me to post up that there are now boxes on all three of the main climbing faces on the Gellet Block.
Bill Davidson - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to neil the weak:

It's no lookin good dude!
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to neil the weak:

Ah man I'm so angry!!!!!
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
rusty_nails - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to The Purple Pimpernel:
> (In reply to iceicebaby)
>
> Hey iceicebabe,
> Can you email us some of your photos?
> I had the car yesterday, I could have took a look.
> Definitely need to tread carefully here as the landowners could make things difficult. Having rights and principles won't do us any good if the landowner decides to spoil things with paint or whatever. I wonder what has provoked this? (apart from the obviously trampled fence?!)


Surely there must be legal backing to prosecute someone who damages the environment by splodging paint all over the climbs. Class action anyone? A case raised by the mCofS to prosecute someone for damaging the rock face?
Slugain Howff - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

Bat conservation my arse. These are being placed to render the crag useless for climbing. It will be interesting to hear what the bat people say.

Slugain
johnSD on 09 Jun 2009
In reply:

Can anyone explain the history of access issues here? Is it just aggressive "get orf my land" posturing, or does climbing/access in any way affect of interfere with the landowner?
MelH - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

I just had a look at your photo - this is REALLY bad news for climbing at Limekilns!!!

Like everyone has been saying if these are bat boxes and they get occupied we can kiss the climbing goodbye!

You can tell by looking at them that these have specifically been put up to stop climbing on the blocks. I def think we need to get this looked into - can you imagine the precedent this might set for other crags in Scotland where landowners hate the fact we have rights to access and they have been able to do nothing but accept the fact?!!! If this sly underhand tactic works and gets out ....
Eric9Points - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

Just a thought but if you live in the neighbourhood your councillor might be worth contacting.

There may or may not be anything that can be done to force the landowner to allow responsible access but local councillors can exert more subtle forms of persuasion.
MelH - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to johnSD:

Considering people use this land for walking etc I honestly think it's a 'get orf my land' scenario!

With the access legislation in Scotland there has come some bad/ underhand tactics by some landowners to attempt to stop people accessing land which they now legally have every right to be on.
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH:

Indeed. I really hope this is a one off case. In my opinion, and given the long history here - its a very deliberate and sly attempt to stop climbing on the block. Its so ridiculous because the block is of no use to the landowner, and is far away from his house, so he can neither see nor hear the climbers. Plus, with regular climbers there in the evenings (its not a busy crag, I only ever see a couple of folk) it largely keeps vandals away! Any litter/damage is quickly cleared away so as not to spoil it as a climbing venue. By making it unattractive to climbers, its going to be a prime spot for local kids getting up to no good (trust me, I grew up here so I know this for a fact!) Therefore, it may not be a good spot for bats, and the place will end up being vandalised. Grrrr. Not 'appy.

MelH - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH:

Hmmm... I'm no bat expert but I have just done a google image search on bat boxes and the photos you have taken do not look like any bat boxes I can find!!!

If that's the case it's looking even more like these "boxes" are merely a way of keeping climbers off the block. Disgusting.

However, this may be good for fighting to get rid of them - unless they are for some other protected species?!
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Eric9Points:

Yep ta, I've got the contact details for the local councillor. I shall be making the point that the fewer climbers at that block in the evenings this summer, the more attractive a venue it will be for antisocial behaviour. Lord Elgin is shooting himself in the foot quite spectacularly on this one - the councillor might bring this to his attention. ~ C
MelH - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
> (In reply to MelH)
>
> Indeed. I really hope this is a one off case. In my opinion, and given the long history here - its a very deliberate and sly attempt to stop climbing on the block.

I totally agree with you. I knew there were issues here but I thought they had been partially resolved. Don't you have someone local and diplomatic who can maybe enter into talks with the landowner on behalf of the local climbers and try to come to some sort of amicable agreement? I know it works in other areas!

I've only been there once but was hoping to get back because I thought it was a really nice wee crag.



iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH:

Haa - there are not many locals who see eye to eye with the landowner...! The local councillor is the best way to go, and there are one or two people in the village council who might be useful to get in touch with too.
Hay - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
I hate to say it but I'm pretty sure this is going to be a losing battle. This whole thing stinks but you've got to admit if they are desperate to prevent climbers, this seems a pretty good plan.

Bruce

iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Hay:

Aye I think you're probably right, but I'm going to have a go anyway.
sjminfife - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: I thought your point wrt vandalism is very good.
It's likey that these boxes,inhabited or not would be targets.
sjm
Sonya Mc on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH: Well, there goes that idea of suggesting Aberdour and Limekilns to climb at!

Agree, these look like pretty weird bat boxes!
Does anyone know how access issues were (semi) resolved the last time?
ie when folk were able to start climbing there again after incidents of grease smearing on the blocks?
stuartf - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

This really is bad news. I've had several highly enjoyable times climbing at Limekilns and it's a brilliant little crag. There's no logical reason why climbing shouldn't be allowed here - it's not as if you approach through someone's garden, or climb in view of their house. It would be such a shame if climbing were prevented again for no apparent reason other than spite.

I really hope this can be sorted out - it's making me angry just thinking about it!
simon_D - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to stuartf:
I've been told off a couple of times by passing dog walkers for cutting through the fence...but this is incredulous! There goes my summer project up the arete, although still climbable I can't be bothered with the hassle of annoying the landowner or villagers (I'm off to aberdour)!
mhowie on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
Can you send (PM) me details of the local councillor. I live very locally and would be happy to get involved - this is a total disaster!
skog - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
Thanks for the photo.

In reply to those asking about the history of access issues:
I believe it was originally to do with the gardening of some ivy, and has grown from there. The recent huge increase in popularity of the crag has probably forced it to a head. Sadly, like Hay, I fear that will probably be a very effective solution from the landlord's point of view.

http://www.mountaineering-scotland.org.uk/nl/58a.html
KateG - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:
This is really sad, and has made me pretty annoyed! Looks like it might be an effective way to keep climbers away though, and pulling them down is only going to make the situation a lot worse.
What a petty person who hates the thought of people enjoying themselves on their land - what possible objection can they have?!
Kate
mal_meech on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Regret putting off my return visit this year, here's hoping that the Sentinel doesn't get the same treatment!!!
Martin W on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to rusty_nails:

> Surely there must be legal backing to prosecute someone who damages the environment by splodging paint all over the climbs. Class action anyone? A case raised by the mCofS to prosecute someone for damaging the rock face?

I do hope that you are not serious. It's Lord Elgin's lump of rock, he can do what he likes with it within the law. We have a right of responsible access to climb on it so long as it's there and we don't break any other laws (such as recklessly disturbing a protected species). We don't have any rights to ensure that the routes are preserved in a climbable condition, all we can do is ask nicely.

I would agree that it does look like this has been done so as to discourage climbing by attracting a protected species. That's why I think it is worthwhile finding out whether the local bat group knows anything about it. If they don't, and we explain to them that this potentially puts a venue for peaceful recreation at risk, then we might be able to get them onside and talking to Lord Elgin about putting his bat boxes (if that's what they are supposed to be) somewhere where they won't interfere with climbing - like on the trees, rather than on the rock. There are lots of bat boxes on trees in the Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh, some right next to the path, so I don't see that bat boxes on trees should cause an access issue.
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to mhowie:

I've emailed a local councillor who I'm told is good at getting things done! I'll send you an email with details.
ring ouzel on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: As someone who has spent many an, uncomfortable, hour putting up bat boxes I have to say I do not recognise these as bat boxes. They are just a blatant attempt to keep climbers off. Also, I cant think of any other species they could be used for. Bats may use them but I would think that the internal volume is too big and the temperature variations will be too great.

Lord Elgin, if you or your minions are keeping up with this thread then I'd say nice try but it wont work. No I am not telling you exactly why. I'll save that in case MCofS get in touch.
getItUpYouLordElgin on 09 Jun 2009 - host86-150-252-205.range86-150.btcentralplus.com
In reply to ring ouzel: Would imagine if this isn't sorted by lawful means it will be sorted unlawfully!!!
Martin W on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to SonyaD:
> Does anyone know how access issues were (semi) resolved the last time?
> ie when folk were able to start climbing there again after incidents of grease smearing on the blocks?

IIRC it was around the time of the Land Reform Act, and the MCofS were actively involved in getting the land owner to moderate his stance.

I believe the incidents that caused the original greasing of the holds involved more then just removal of ivy, and included the lighting of fires and the leaving of litter. This article from the MCofS newsletter has some more information: http://www.mountaineering-scotland.org.uk/nl/58a.html (in the context of some of the earlier postings, note the statement: "NB. It is not advisable or legal to exercise your access rights by acting irresponsibly and damaging fences.")
mhowie on 09 Jun 2009
There have certainly been more people on the rock at LK in the last couple of years, but they seem to have been well behaved. I would have thought the climbers had a good case for arguing that they are one of the more positive aspects of the area. There are piles of waste left regularly by local kids - broken bucky bottles and the likes - which seem to get regularly removed again by climbers (e.g. myself!) It would help if all climbers removed all litter when they left too though .. assuming it's not too dark!




iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to getItUpYouLordElgin:

Shouldn't laugh but, erm... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA nice username you got there!
ring ouzel on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to getItUpYouLordElgin: Would seriously caution against that, otherwise it just becomes ammunition that the landowner can use against climbers. It also gives other landowners ammunition as well. Please dont do anything that might work against climbers.
mwicks1968 - on 09 Jun 2009
Anybody listening to this thread from Climber or Climb magazine? (seeing as access is a "hot" topic these days, re. Vixen Tor et al)

It would be interesting to hear a geological point of view too - I understand the rock there is quite unusual, yet this action has probably damaged it more than any climbing would ever do.

Also, be interesting to hear what an MSP would have to say on the matter, seeing as this sort of action is making a mockery of their much vaunted Land Reform Act and Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and so on.

(I have little faith in politicians - just humour me on this one :-) )
JLS on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to getItUpYouLordElgin:

>"it will be sorted unlawfully"

Have you lost your Marbles?
getItUpYouLordElgin on 09 Jun 2009 - host86-150-252-205.range86-150.btcentralplus.com
In reply to JLS: If we can't climb there, we can't climb that's it! So what would be wrong with a bit of the common man's justice?

I suggest removing the offending boxes and attaching them to his castle! Or even better a French style revaluation, I'll get the guillotine, if you get the burning torches.
beardy mike - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to getItUpYouLordElgin: You are Lord Elgins Gamekeeper trolling and I claim my £5 ;)
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Thoms6974 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

I haven't been to Limekilns yet and thus have no idea how messy it is, but could we show off how conscientious the average climber is, and do some sort of cleanup work there - much like happened last year at Rosyth?

Why not take it further and offer to do an afternoons work as extra manpower for the gamekeeper?? Just be really, REALLY helpful until Lord Elgy tells us to bugger off back to just climbing on the damned blocks!

Would be quite good to finally find out which of my tri-cams fit in the bolt holes
Chris F - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
> I shall be making the point that the fewer climbers at that block in the evenings this summer, the more attractive a venue it will be for antisocial behaviour.

Surely what he is doing can be regarded as anti-social behaviour?
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Thoms6974:

There's nothing to clean up, its a very clean venue and is kept that way by climbers as it is.
Thoms6974 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

So just helping out on his estate then? Well I'm free most of the summer...
JLS on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to getItUpYouLordElgin:

>"I'll get the guillotine"

You know he can only be killed by driving a stainless steel piton through his heart?
the crabbit man - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

This just shows what a petty, mean-spirited person Lord Elgin is and has been for a long time.
I can remember when he had the grease plastered on the blocks to stop climbing. A member of the local club, that I was in at the time, who I think did some of the first ascents of some of the routes, happened to be a policeman and tried without success to reason with Elgin.
I had only climbed there for the first time last year and would like to go back. If this isn't resolved sensibly between the climbers and Elgin, it is inevitable that there are climbers who will take it upon themselves to remove them.
This is probably part of Elgin's planning, to provoke an extreme response from climbers so that he can claim the moral high ground.
As much as I'd like to remove them forcibly, this would not do us climbers any favours in the eyes of the public/authorities.





Could they have an alternative purpose, belay stances? :o(
Sonya Mc on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Martin W: Thanks, think someone above posted the same link.

I find it very hard to believe that someone would get annoyed about ancestral ivy (wtf!!!???)

As for ripped out car seats, broken glass, bodily fluids etc being there in the past, sounds more like the work of the local neds than climbers surely? And just the sort of thing that Elgin would encourage to return.
Brendan - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
Could you post the name or email adress of the councillor (if that's allowed on the forum)? Maybe we could get some sort of petition going?
I think it would be more effective if everyone who has replied to this post sent the council an email, rather than people taking actions into their own hands. Surely climbers are a significant contributer to tourism in the area and the council will listen?
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Brendan:

Hmmmm not sure if I'm allowed to post these or not, but I don't see why not since they are on the internet anyway! I have found the following, and contacted all except the MSP one, which I am still composing an email to (trying to do some work in between getting angry about some boxes on a giant boulder...!)

MCofS Access Contact: hebe@mountaineering-scotland.org.uk

MSP for Dunfermline West and Villages: jim.tolson.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Local Councillor for Kincardine and West Fife Coastal Villages is Cllr. Willie Ferguson, see online contact option at:

http://www.fife.gov.uk/orgs/index.cfm?fuseaction=councillor.detail&orgid=60304273-a856-11d6-bf4d...

And the Bat Conservation Trust contact is: ayoungman@bats.org.uk

The Bat Conservation Trust are the only ones to reply so far - helpful response, they have their local Fife group looking into the boxes. The lady said they are unlike any bat boxes she has ever seen, but could be just an unusual design as they are at about the right height. She expressed concern over them being within reach of vandals though.

Get emailing!
Brendan - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
Nice one, I'll get an email off to the councillor just now.
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: i have some insight to this problem<i think having climbed many years ago with his nephew,Robert bruce who was killed on the north face of mont maudit,doing the first british accent..thus stemmed the grease etc,,allegedly but i was in the valey that day,he was my friend.but knew there would be trouble.
the crabbit man - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to all:

As an addition to my post above the purpose of the boxes seems to have only one purpose, to prevent climbing in the most devious manner possible.

Elgin when challenged will claim they are there for the bats and will be surprised that they will have any effect on climbing.
He will, as I wrote earlier, be hoping for something to happen to them so he can blame climbers. So any damage that occurs to them will be used against us.
If this damage/vandalism ISN'T forthcoming, whether from climbers or local neds, we should look out for the possibility of this 'happening' anyway.
He appears to be devious enough to have had these put up, so it will have also occurred to him that he would be able to blame climbers even if it is done by vandals or an estate worker driving a tractor.
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: I,d advise caution no climber in any way blow this,lets do it through legal channels.
Tim Chappell - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man:


I'm pretty appalled by this. It does seem very small-minded. If the owner, whoever it is, thinks that climbers using the crag constitute a problem, s/he's quite wrong. Climbers are (at least typically) not the problem at all, unless you rile them. And this is pretty riling.

Especially for me-- I've never yet got round to climbing at Limekilns!

I'll be watching this thread with interest. Good luck to those of you who live locally and are pursuing it with your councillors, which I think is the best way to go. Vandalising the boxes, as others have said, is absolutely not the thing to do-- that plays straight into the landowner's hands.
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: Chill people, we can do this by legal means
iceicebaby - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to daveyb233:

Agreed. Brain over brawn for this one! I'm working on making the case that its an unsuitable site for bats for starters. Bats are quite interesting actually, I'm learning lots :-P

ring ouzel on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: If you want any help with that then feel free to email me.
the crabbit man - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Yes as I wrote earlier, I agree, any damage will be blamed on climbers so we have to be careful and watchful.

Watchful, as I think he will go to any lengths to blame climbers, including "arranging" this damage to occur.
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: beleive me he will!
icehockeyhair - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

Hey, I've also sent an e-mail to the UKC news address highlighting the thread. That might bring the situation to the attention of more people who visit the site.

Cheers

Duncan
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daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to icehockeyhair: good move!
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: how about all of us not visitig Limekilns until its resolved?Then if harder action is needed,so be it?
the crabbit man - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to daveyb233:
> (In reply to the crabbit man) beleive me he will!

As you wrote earlier that you had some insight into this, are you free to share it?
My suspicions of what lengths he will go to, to prevent climbing, are based on what I know he has done in the past and my perception of his character.



daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: sorry geting worrying maessages nfrom the afforesaid
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: got to tune off!
Paul Mosley on 09 Jun 2009 - user-5af0e5b0.wfd96.dsl.pol.co.uk [nickel.onspeed.com]
Just for info. I visited Lime Kilns for the first time today in the hope of climbing.I spoke briefly to the Game Keepers/Estate Workers. They suggested they were putting up bat boxes and having finished at the Gellet block were then inspecting the Sentinel.
They implied they had received a grant for the work and had also had problems with a group who had camped there for a week.
Just of note as a first time visitor there did seem to be a great deal of damage to the fence.
andymoin - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Just received photos from a mate who when to check it out. The boxes are plainly positioned over the main crack lines and routes.

Any word form the mcofs or any one else in authority yet, would be good if they got involved before any more went up!

Any Group of poeple causing problems should have been dealt with by the police and I'm sure some sort of join funding for a style would have solve the fence problem.

What's being done is just pain wrong and will spoil 100 of climbers use of one of the most popular central belt crags.
Eric9Points - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Paul Mosley:

> Just of note as a first time visitor there did seem to be a great deal of damage to the fence.

The trouble is that there's no way of getting access to the crags without climbing over a fence and no stile is provided. It's not suprising that it gets damaged.

I doubt that the folk that camped there for a week, if indeed such a thing actually happened, were climbers so vandalising the crags isn't going to solve that problem.
Hay - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Eric9Points:
There were people camping at the Kilns not that long ago - a father and son...not climbers, wild camper-rambler types. They seemed to know what they were about but I guess they must have been cooking/pooing in the woods.

This is great shame and is certainly done in a spiteful and deliberate way. I can only imagine the hateful, petty smugness that is going on.
I am all for pursuing all channels but this is an old quarry on private ground....I'm pretty sure he can do what he wants with it.

Damn them. Damn them. Damn them.

Bruce

MelH - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel:
> (In reply to iceicebaby) As someone who has spent many an, uncomfortable, hour putting up bat boxes I have to say I do not recognise these as bat boxes. They are just a blatant attempt to keep climbers off. Also, I cant think of any other species they could be used for. Bats may use them but I would think that the internal volume is too big and the temperature variations will be too great.
>

Nice one - I really didn't think they looked like bat boxes so cheers for the info!!!!

MelH - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> Yes as I wrote earlier, I agree, any damage will be blamed on climbers so we have to be careful and watchful.
>
> Watchful, as I think he will go to any lengths to blame climbers, including "arranging" this damage to occur.


Totally agree - anyone reading this thread PLEASE DO NOT DAMAGE THESE BOXES IN ANY WAY!!! Let's do this right! :)
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin: big big bat boxes! Leave them alone! Have you ever thought about the size of the bats!
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel: can i have a box placed just half way up,the new route one hand slapping?
JdotP - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

Looks like Lord Elgin has lost his marbles...
daveyb233 - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to monkey kong: Good one!
sheppy on 09 Jun 2009
If these become inhabited then its def curtains to access. I think the duck tape idea was pretty sound and will prevent them becoming occupied without actually damaging them. This will buy time for negotiation.
As for Lord Elgins position, from what I remember of the original stramash it was all down to climbers stripping back a huge area of ivy which his family had planted over the generations. To say he was annoyed would be an understatement.
Sonya Mc on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to sheppy: Was that for real then? Or just an excuse?
sheppy on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to SonyaD: No thats for real as I heard it. Though obviously 3rd or 4th hand!
andymoin - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=117555
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=117554

Photo's from a mate, looks blatantly obvious what the intention of the boxes is!
Dave Kerr - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Bruce,_11th_Earl_of_Elgin

We commoners might well be 'on to plums' as they say down my way.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Sonya Mc on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to sheppy: Oh, undoubtedly the trashing of the ivy did occur and the dude got angry. But what I meant was, was he genuinly upset because it was of sentimental ancestral value (I mean, it's a bit of ivy eh??? But people do get upset over the strangest of things I guess) Or was the ivy just an excuse? In the same way that the bat boxes are an excuse, cunningly placed over the cracks.
KeithAlexander - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH:

While touching the boxes seems likely to be counter-productive to climbing access, what legal avenues are there that can be pursued by the climbing community when a landowner wants to do something to rocks on their land that interferes with their use for climbing?

Is it certain that the sole purpose of these boxes is to prevent climbing ? (it does look very suspicious).
What other ways, for the sake of argument, could land owners spoil a climbing venue?
Slugain Howff - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to sheppy:

> If these become inhabited then its def curtains to access. I think the duck tape idea was pretty sound

Wise up sheppy boy. How does this support your cause when they place a dead bat in the box after you have sealed the entrance with tape. I can see the headlines already!

tsk Slugain

andymoin - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to KeithAlexander: Err how about oiling the holds which I believe happened at LK about 15 years back?
184Dave on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Little off topic but just some background on the Bruce's of Elgin. One of his forbears stole the front teeth from the skull of Robert the Bruce, when it was found it interred in Dunfermline Abbey.

Strange behavior seems to run in the family!

Good luck with the whole legal project.

I must exercise my legal right to roam across the estate next time I visit my parents. Its the most direct route for me to the rocks, and the walk would be nice.

Think it would be a nice stroll before and after a climb why not try it let me know:)
Surge on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

quite right to go for the official approach,

but wouldn't it be possible to put a large cork in the holes - no damage done there... (preferably painted dark so no-one need ever know)
Surge on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Slugain Howff:

as per my previous comment,
but with date stamped photos of the empty box before and after
morbh - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:
Is Limekilns a quarried area?
Chris McDaid - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to Surge:

MCofS route to sort this is pointless. About 5 yrs ago myself and a mate were climbing at the Gellet Block when the gamekeeper approached us in a very threatening manner, brandishing a shotgun (uncocked). At that time, the vice president of the MCofS was a Beryl Leatherland (sic), a resident of Limekilns/Charlestown. I e mailed her and the access officer about the gamekeepers behaviour and heard no more about it. The MCofS are toothless in cases like this. Destroying the "batboxes" wont help, neither will the MCofS. The only thing I could possibly see working is a mass trespass, ie loads of climbers arriving en masse at the crag on a given day, and climbing all over those poxy boxes. Even better if it could be organised to disturb a pheasant shoot

Cheers
KeithAlexander - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin:

How was that resolved?
Chris McDaid - on 09 Jun 2009
In reply to KeithAlexander:

It was never resolved. All the starting holds were liberally smeared with grease. After a few years, the grease degraded and climbers started going back there, in very few numbers ubtil the last couple of years

Cheers
jamestheyip - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

I was climbing in Gellet Rock on Sunday late evening with another party. Also saw one party climbing at Sentinel. The boxes must have been installed on Monday morning.

From my understanding Lord Elgin's discouraging action to access always aims at the climbing community rather than general public. The grease and the boxes are there to stop no one else but climbers.

The venue is in a beautiful setting shared by ramblers, dog walkers, campers or people who just go there to make fire and drink. In the past few years I've occasionally seen rubbish and burnt wood scattering around but normally the place is kept very tidy. I've heard of stories from friends who are rangers in the Highland about landlords fencing all the way around lochs in ther land to stop fishermen as they got fed up with the rubbish left behind. This explains an action against a particular outdoor activity group.

I think we need to find out why Lord Elgin particularly dislike people climbing on the blocks or whether it's purely a matter of misunderstanding.

I can only make some speculations here:

The ivy story? - is he still angry about the torn down ivy and and can the tension be eased by a formal apology from the MCofS? Even it happened over 20 years ago!

Damage to fence? - surely the place need a gate/steps. Can the climbing community pay for it as a good gesture?

Chalk mark? - does it annoy him? Well it can't be worse than the grease.

Disturbance? - too many people walking pass his property, while climbers being the majority? Perhaps a less disturbing route can be established with a sign post and a general notice put on here?

Rubbish/vandalism? - I guess they are not from climbers but the landlord might think otherwise. Can it be explained in a letter and future climbers might just help to keep the place clean (which I assume we are already doing)? If this is the key to the issue it should be the most resolvable.

Personal reason? - does he just dislike the sport and hate to see people practicing it on his land? Hope not. Otherwise, pass...


I've heard about the confrontations in the past and understand we are not dealing with the most approachable character. However I trust someone with very careful diplomatic hands might be able to speak to Lord Elgin directly and undo some dead knots.





george mc - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to sheppy:
> If these become inhabited then its def curtains to access. I think the duck tape idea was pretty sound and will prevent them becoming occupied without actually damaging them. This will buy time for negotiation.
> As for Lord Elgins position, from what I remember of the original stramash it was all down to climbers stripping back a huge area of ivy which his family had planted over the generations. To say he was annoyed would be an understatement.

Sheppy's right - I just started climbing about the time the routes were being developed. Ivy was cut down but the guys who cut it down said they'd the permission of Elgin - Elgin said no. It all got very messy. Was'nt helped when a bus load of climbers turned up one evening. Relations went downhill after that. Still that's a long time back. I had thought that access to the blocks was all happy and peaceful, obviously not anymore.

colin8ll on 10 Jun 2009
This is really bad news. I think we need to do something on a major scale because climbing venues (especially in this area) are such a precious resource and the wants of one man should not be allowed to out-way the pleasures of so many climbers, present and future. I accept that currently the law may be on the side of the land owner but I don't think this is right especially when it is clearly an attempt to devalue the outdoor access code. I think we should petition to have these finite resources and access to them legally protected. I would hope that the government would be sympathetic as I was of the understanding that they claim to wish to take action against the obesity epidemic, and providing affordable (free) recreational venues to the masses would therefore be high on their priorities (all be it after that of lining their own pockets).

How about we contact the local press as they seemed to get mileage from the Stagecoach woman's access ban?
henwardian - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to jamestheyip:
> Personal reason? - does he just dislike the sport and hate to see people practicing it on his land? Hope not. Otherwise, pass...

Yup, it's pretty obvious this is it. I mean, I hate traffic wardens, lord elgin hates climbers, sadly it's part of the great circle of life. All the people who are expressing doubts about the intentions of these boxes are clearly deluding themselves.

I read the entire thread through though and I wanted to ask: If the boxes are vandalised by climbers, local neds, estate workers, attack dolphins or whoever. Is there actually any legal precident by which the land owner can get an interdict against use of the crag by climbers when this interdict would clearly apply to people who had absolutely nothing to do with the act of vandalism?
Hay - on 10 Jun 2009
I've been looking at the photos (and reading the comments on Andy's)...pretty much everything still looks climbable.
White Ensign and Elgins Crack look a pain (always a pain anyway!) but DT, Lion Rampant, Red Flag, Dead Ringer and even GTN look on.....

Do we just keep on climbing there, making the best of it?

Bruce
IceBun - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to george mc: Hi George, certainly the situation re the ivy and the bus party/ies/club meets were the main part of the first issue as I understand it. As one of the original developers we didnt even contemplate climbing on the main Gellet block as it was so shrouded in a fantastic array of ivy (allegedly collected from across the globe by Lord E's relatives). The only climbable ish line was Elgins Crack and even it was crowned by ivy. To be truthful I was astonished when I went back for a look after the development of the Gellet block as I just had not considered that climbers would clear the Gellet block in the way they did.

When developing the Sentinel block we had several cordial chats with Lord Elgin but as it was all very low key and clearly the crags popularity and the development of the larger block changed things. The Lord Elgin we met was no spring chicken and that was over 25 years ago. I do know that there was a particularly unfortunate incident when a group of climbers got into a dispute with Lord Elgin over the situation on the Gellet block and he and a woman(presumably his wife) were sworn at, told to f*** off and then one member of the climbing party flashed his arse at them. Don't think that helped much.

Neil M
skog - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to morbh:
> Is Limekilns a quarried area?

Yes - it's an old limestone quarry. The top layer of the hill is a fossil-rich limestone (also found in the Bathgate hills, and probably some other parts of the Central Lowlands). This layer was quarried inwards, taking material from the edges and leaving the blocks we have now.
So the blocks themselves are kind of odd, inside-out quarries.
ed34 - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to IceBun:

well i've never been to that area, but i guess if what IceBun says is true and i was the land owner and a non climber i'd still be pretty pissed off with the climbing community and wouldnt want them back on my land if they behaved like that!!
MelH - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to SonyaD:
> (In reply to sheppy) Oh, undoubtedly the trashing of the ivy did occur and the dude got angry. But what I meant was, was he genuinly upset because it was of sentimental ancestral value (I mean, it's a bit of ivy eh??? But people do get upset over the strangest of things I guess)

Sorry Sonya - but I don't agree with this. It's his land and obviously very old ivy which seems to have been collected from other countries from what someone else is saying. I think he had every right to be annoyed about it. If someone came into the garden of any person on this thread and started cutting the heads off all the flowers we would not be happy either.

However, if he's still holding a grudge over that it's a bit petty. =/

Regardless of whether or not he is aproachable I still think the best course of action is for someone who is very diplomatic and knows all the legalities regarding access rights would be a good person to speak to him. Maybe an access officer from fife council or from elsewhere?

If one of the issues is the fence then I would be happy to make a small contribution towards a stile.

ads.ukclimbing.com
george mc - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to IceBun:
> (In reply to george mc) Hi George, certainly the situation re the ivy and the bus party/ies/club meets were the main part of the first issue as I understand it. As one of the original developers we didnt even contemplate climbing on the main Gellet block as it was so shrouded in a fantastic array of ivy (allegedly collected from across the globe by Lord E's relatives). The only climbable ish line was Elgins Crack and even it was crowned by ivy. To be truthful I was astonished when I went back for a look after the development of the Gellet block as I just had not considered that climbers would clear the Gellet block in the way they did.
>
> When developing the Sentinel block we had several cordial chats with Lord Elgin but as it was all very low key and clearly the crags popularity and the development of the larger block changed things. The Lord Elgin we met was no spring chicken and that was over 25 years ago. I do know that there was a particularly unfortunate incident when a group of climbers got into a dispute with Lord Elgin over the situation on the Gellet block and he and a woman(presumably his wife) were sworn at, told to f*** off and then one member of the climbing party flashed his arse at them. Don't think that helped much.
>
> Neil M

Hi Nel
Hey - hope yer weel? I forgot about the incident you describe - yeah did not make relations any warmer! I think I knew who the guys who were involved in that particular incident. From what I recall they were not part of the teams developing the climbs at the time.

I think the current Lord Elgin must be a son as I'd be very surprised if the current one is the same one. Like you I recall him being pretty advanced in years in the early eighties.

Back on topic:

I guess if there are any concerns I'd be contacting the MC of S in the first place and letting em deal with it.
Sonya Mc on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH: Well, that's what I was trying to find out and person above answered my intitial query about the ivy. The MCofS link seemed to suggest it was just a bit of bog standard ivy and mentioned nothing about generations of family members planting different bits from different countries (just how legal was that anyway, to take species of plants from one country and introduce it to another? That's why we have problems with Japanese Knotweed and the like. Tenuous I know!) Now, if it had just been a bit of yer bog standard ivy that had been removed, then that sounded more like an excuse to me. I hadn't realised the whole of the block had been covered with ivy initially.

I think it's better to get all the facts first hand from people who know the full history of the place, so people can be armed with correct and factual info before anyone goes wading in so no surprises are thrown up. Then, if you like say someone can get into Diplomatic talks then they can think of counter arguments (or placating) for earlier damages such as the destroying of ivy, destroying of fences, swearing and bum flashing (sorry but lol!) So, it was interested to find out the facts behind the ivy to find out whether there was any justification in it, or whether it was just some shitty bit of ivy and Elgin was using it as an excuse to be a 'get off my land' type.
MelH - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to SonyaD:

Good morning! I'm bored! :( I've been awake for 3 hours already :( Some way to start off hols. =/

Anyway, I do completely agree with you in a sense and do think it's an excuse - I just think any damage to property whether it be a sh1tty bit of ivy or something else is completely unacceptable, but that's just my opinion and it was a long time ago.... not much we can do about that now- I agree with you that all we can do is try to resolve this issue amicably..... somehow...
Sonya Mc on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to MelH: I'd agree that willfull destruction of someone else's property is wrong, but a wee bitty of 'gardening' is fine. Though of course the ivy was obv a bit more than a wee bitty. And yeah, it's obv an old issue, but still relevant to arming with knowledge blah blah. And of course, if Elgin had initially given permission to climb on one of the blocks and not the other and his wishes were ignored, then I can understand him being annoyed.

Does anyone know if MCofS have been any good at resolving access issues on other occasions? My experience of them so far is that they're pretty hopeless at organisation.

<I'm bored as well! Being off for the summer is great, but too much time on my hands and not enough money to go do anything :o(
Dave Kerr - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to SonyaD:
> Does anyone know if MCofS have been any good at resolving access issues on other occasions?

I can't really think of any occasions where the MCofS have done anything.

That might be unjust and I'm willing to be corrected, but from what I can see they keep a pretty low profile on the whole
ericoides - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to george mc:
> (In reply to IceBun)
> [...]
> I think the current Lord Elgin must be a son as I'd be very surprised if the current one is the same one.

The 10th Earl died in 1968.
The 11th Earl was born in 1924.

In reply to SonyaD:
> (just how legal was that anyway, to take species of plants from one country and introduce it to another?)

Quite legal today if this is followed.
http://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profiles0604/moving_plants_EU.asp

As to the legality pre our membership of the EU I have no idea, but without introduced species we would have an extremely limited range of trees, shrubs and plants.
Sonya Mc on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to ericoides: Cheers for that, learn something new every day :o)
ring ouzel on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Quite a few people are mentioning access rights and exercising these, whilst that is one way to go I think people are missing the bigger threat. Lord Elgin has either thought about this or had some very good advice as he has put up bat boxes. Bats are the most protected group of animals in Europe. Thats the big issue - bats, not just access rights. If people challenge him they had better know the Habitats Directive 1996 and amendments as this will need to be fought at that level.

From looking at the pictures though it seems to me someone has cottoned on that bats will give him his best chance of keeping climbers away. However the boxes are wrong so I dont think they fully understand bat biology and I think that is our 'in'. People can go down the access route (as it were!) but dont forget the protection that bats have. Along with Scottish Wildcat, Otter and Dormouse nothing else has that level of protection in the UK.
BelleVedere on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin:
>
>
> Guy to get in contact with is 'hebe at mcofs.org.uk'.

That guy is in fact a 'she'
Slugain Howff - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel:
> . People can go down the access route (as it were!) but dont forget the protection that bats have. Along with Scottish Wildcat, Otter and Dormouse nothing else has that level of protection in the UK.

Maybe the wildcat, otter and dormouse nest boxes will be installed next!!

ring ouzel on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Slugain Howff: Thats exactly what I hope he does, any half-competent ecologist could make mince meat of his arguments then!
iceicebaby - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel:
> (In reply to davie.p.) Quite a few people are mentioning access rights and exercising these, whilst that is one way to go I think people are missing the bigger threat. Lord Elgin has either thought about this or had some very good advice as he has put up bat boxes. Bats are the most protected group of animals in Europe. Thats the big issue - bats, not just access rights. If people challenge him they had better know the Habitats Directive 1996 and amendments as this will need to be fought at that level.
>
> From looking at the pictures though it seems to me someone has cottoned on that bats will give him his best chance of keeping climbers away. However the boxes are wrong so I dont think they fully understand bat biology and I think that is our 'in'. People can go down the access route (as it were!) but dont forget the protection that bats have. Along with Scottish Wildcat, Otter and Dormouse nothing else has that level of protection in the UK.


Absolutely agree with you there.... Access is almost irrelevant now, although i've emailed everyone I can about that. WE NEED TO LEARN ABOUT BATS - PRONTO. This is the only way to go. Not saying any more incase Elgins are tracking this thread! Better watch what we say on here as this thread is attracting a lot of interest.

george mc - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Slugain Howff:
> (In reply to ring ouzel)
> [...]
>
> Maybe the wildcat, otter and dormouse nest boxes will be installed next!!

That be nice. You could feed the dormouse to the wildcat, the otter would eat the bats then the wildcat and otter would turn on each other :) Problemo solved!
ring ouzel on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: yhm.
davie.p. - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Hi, I live down in Charlestown (the whole village is in fact on Lord Elgin's estate) and this morning, as a concerned local resident, I phoned up Broomhall Estate Office to find out more about the bat boxes and climbers access.

I spoke to a very nice chap who didn't seem to know an awful lot about it except that Lord Elgin has recently been working with the Access Officer for Fife Council to resolve some issues regarding his estate. For the most part this has meant lots of new signs ('Broomhall Privacy Zone') and of course the bat boxes. The Estate guy didn't know much about the boxes as they were Lord Elgin's responsibility.

I asked if I could climb on the stone and was given neither a yes nor no answer. He says they have been doing all they can to allow 'responsible access' (that seems to be the key phrase), however if there are bats there I probably shouldn't interfere with them as they are protected. After discussing this for a little we both kind of agreed that I shouldn't climb there.

I asked if there were plans to restore the fence round the stone and was told that the original fence was really there for Health and Safety Reasons (what with it being a disused quarry) and also to help with the Gamekeeping on the estate. He didn't say if it would be repaired or not.

So this looks very very bad for climbing at Limeklins.
iceicebaby - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

I've mailed you.
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

this could set a very sad precedent for climbing in scotland. i really dont know what we can do about it, but ecology is surely the way to go about it, and there seem to be a few people clued up on the situation so hopefully they can help us out.

i dont know if getting further exposure for the cause is worthwhile, was thinking of emailing Mark Stevens on the bbc radio scotland out of doors show, he would probably be interested, what does everyone think about gettin the press involved?

re building a style, id be quite happy to contribute but dont think that would help much given the whole history of the situation....
alasdair19 on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: thanks for getting some info from the estate.

IN reply to others who don't rate the MCofS - Beryl (resident and ex VP) was involved behind the scenes in getting the "reasonable access" that has been enjoyed in the last 5 years or so.

If you feel they are not doing enough then volunteer some time...

Clearly LImekilns is important to central belt climbers and we need to be careful has the access bod got back to anyone? does the FIFe council access person have any light to shed?
mav - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to alasdair19:
> > Clearly LImekilns is important to central belt climbers and we need to be careful has the access bod got back to anyone?



I emailed her earlier, asking if they were planning to do anything. I suggested she may wish to put a statement here, or on the MCofS website. I'd have thought that if anything that would stop her inbox getting out of hand.

the crabbit man - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to george mc:

It would seem that the current Lord Elgin succeeded to the title in 1968 and is now around 84/85y.o.
So it is the same man from the original dispute and he is quite good at holding a grudge.

I don't think he has done anything illegal in putting up these "bat" boxes but he must be challenged on why he has done so. He appears to be creating or attempting to create an artificial bat habitat in an environment where none is required and by his actions he is endangering the bats by encouraging them to roost where they will be disturbed. For instance no-one with any sense would create an environment for an endangered/protected species where they would be guaranteed to be disturbed by the general public, they always choose places/areas away from where the public go about their normal legitimate activities.

As climbers we need to have people involved who know that what he has done is detrimental to the bats welfare. As someone pointed out the boxes are the wrong shape and size for bats and they are sited where the public has free access.

MelH - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel:
> (In reply to davie.p.) Quite a few people are mentioning access rights and exercising these, whilst that is one way to go I think people are missing the bigger threat. Lord Elgin has either thought about this or had some very good advice as he has put up bat boxes. Bats are the most protected group of animals in Europe. Thats the big issue - bats, not just access rights. If people challenge him they had better know the Habitats Directive 1996 and amendments as this will need to be fought at that level.
>


I think I was moving away from that slightly and more towards sorting out access issues because I didn't think they looked like bat boxes from looking at the photos. I do agree with you re the level of protection of bats etc if that is what he is trying to attract.
Murdo Munro on 10 Jun 2009 - ipf.co.uk
In reply to all:

Can I respectfully suggest you familiarise yourself with S14.1 of the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2003/asp_20030002_en_2#pt1-ch5-l1g14

(1) The owner of land in respect of which access rights are exercisable shall not, for the purpose or for the main purpose of preventing or deterring any person entitled to exercise these rights from doing soó
(a) put up any sign or notice;
(b) put up any fence or wall, or plant, grow or permit to grow any hedge, tree or other vegetation;
(c) position or leave at large any animal;
(d) carry out any agricultural or other operation on the land; or
(e) take, or fail to take, any other action.

I imagine that (c) had bulls in mind (or wild boar on the Attadale estate) but bats ought to do. (e) is impressively catch-all. Try sticking the letter of the law under the nose of the Fife access officer and see what happens?

MelH - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Murdo Munro:

Thanks for the input - very interesting.


iceicebaby - would appear you are correct and this is getting a lot of interest. Particularly when people are registering specifically to give us some helpful advice!!!
skog - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Murdo Munro:
> I imagine that (c) had bulls in mind (or wild boar on the Attadale estate)
Alladale, surely? Attadale estate seems positively friendly, and, as far as I'm aware, lacks wild boar.
Porridge the climber - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Murdo Munro:
Typical, I was going to go for the first time last week, but didn't get time and was hoping to go this weekend, weather permitting!

I think dealing with this legally has to be the way forward, and anyone going there needs to be ultra polite and respectful to any estate workers or Lord Elgin himself. We don't want to give them any additional ammunition.

Looking at the LRSA we would appear to have good grounds for getting these boxes removed. As mentioned by Murdo, (e) is pretty catch all and clearly the intention of the legislation is to prevent landowners from taking unilateral action to prevent fair access under the Act. This is clearly happenning here and as such even (c) would probaly give grounds.

Are there any (Scots) solicitors out there willing to get involved in a bit of pro bono???

If he gets away with this others will follow, and not just in respect to climbing. It needs to be publicised.....
iceicebaby - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Porridge the climber:

I've emailed a link to this thread to several newspapers so they can track the story...
the crabbit man - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to all:

"(1) The owner of land in respect of which access rights are exercisable shall not, for the purpose or for the main purpose of preventing or deterring any person entitled to exercise these rights from doing soó
(a) put up any sign or notice;
(b) put up any fence or wall, or plant, grow or permit to grow any hedge, tree or other vegetation;
(c) position or leave at large any animal;
(d) carry out any agricultural or other operation on the land; or
(e) take, or fail to take, any other action."

This is why we need the advice and opinion of bat experts to make clear that these "bat boxes" are not there for bats.
If we can establish this without disagreement why they are there, we can use the law to remove them as they are there then solely to obstruct/prevent access.
Porridge the climber - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: Good stuff. It's such a blatant abuse I can't believe a court would let him get away with it and I think anyone who has an interest in any outdoor pursuit would be worried about this. Hopefully the papers will pick it up.

Andy.
Tom Last - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man:

Does 'access' in respect to the terms of that legislation cover vertical rock? Or is it sufficient for the landowner to provide access to the base of the climbs alone?
Porridge the climber - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: Agree competely, but I think even if they were there in the interests of the bats, "(c) POSITION or leave at large any animal" could well render even that contrary to the act. The only issue then might arise if they became occupied, for the protection reasons mentioned above.....
Porridge the climber - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Queequeg: I think rock could be argued to be land. It would be strange were it not to be. I haven't read the whole act yet (though I will) but it may well define 'land'.
ring ouzel on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: Lord Elgin, if he plays his cards right, could come out of this smelling of roses and looking like a hero. How? Well if he allowed bat surveyors from the local bat group to undertake bat surveys and produce a proper report which showed how he could maximise the biodiversity benefits of his land in exchange for allowing climbers to continue to use the area (under an agreed code of conduct) then he could be seen as not only acting as a champion for biodiversity but also for access rights too. Just a thought.
Mehmet Karatay - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Queequeg:
> Does 'access' in respect to the terms of that legislation cover vertical rock? Or is it sufficient for the landowner to provide access to the base of the climbs alone?

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (which is there to give us common sense guide lines to following the legislation in the Land Reform Act) specifically says that access rights can be used to go rock climbing. Therefore it should cover the vertical rock. http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/default.asp?nPageID=192&nSubContentID=0

I think, as long as we can convince who ever upholds the law (a judge? the police? the council?) that the bat boxes were put up specifically to prevent us exercising our access rights as opposed to the superficial front being presented, we will be okay. Convincing them may be easier said than done though. If it did, somehow, go to a judge it would set an interesting precedent for the future.

Mehmet
the crabbit man - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Queequeg:

I would think so. If not, at what angle if that were the case would land cease to be land? :o)

I've been having a look for info about bat boxes and the long ones shown here,
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=117554

do not follow the dimensions of any bat boxes plans, although the 2 smaller ones do. It would be interesting to find out where he got them or if he had them made. What wood has been used in their construction?

ring ouzel, you could be right, he will (has from another post) have taken advice about this and will have statements prepared to respond to criticism.
We as climbers need to be able to refute these without exaggerating or ignoring information that could support his actions.
mav - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:
I also emailed someone at fife council, alison irvine, who according to the MCofS website is Fife council's access officer. I got her email address from there. She's not replied yet, though to be fair she's only had an afternoon and may not even be in the office. Text of email below. I'll post back if I receive a reply.

"I got your email address from the MCofS website. Iím not sure if anyone has contacted you on this, but I gather you are the access officer for Fife. An issue seems to have arisen at Limekilns, where there are to limestone blocks which are popular with local climbers. It would appear that the landowner has installed what appear to be bat nesting boxes on the crag in the last few days. There is a fairly lengthy thread on the ukclimbing website (link attached along with another link to photo).

There is some debate as to whether they are appropriate for bats, and the belief among climbers is that they have been installed purely to keep climbers from the land. If so, is that appropriate and acceptable behaviour within the spirit of the access code.

Is this something that the climbing community would be able to do anything about, or do we simply have to accept that a much loved venue is now out of bounds?

Thanks"

Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

i contacted the BBC out of doors programme and they replied very quickly:


"Thanks for getting in touch. This is a very interesting story which we
would be very keen to follow up. In fact it fits in with lots we've
done in the past about access to the countryside.

Do you think anyone from the climbing community would be willing to
speak out about it? Ideally, if someone was prepared to take us along
and show us the site, then we will get in touch with the landowner and
Scottish Natural Heritage.

My reporter, Euan McIlwraith would be available to record something in
Fife either tomorrow morning (Thursday) or Friday morning."

would anyone like to voulunteer? preferably someone local with knowledge of the law and ecology. i would but dont know much aabout law and am currently in the highlands

cheers
Neil
Porridge the climber - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Mehmet Karatay: I agree about the test case bit. I think that is why getting other outdoor pursuit interest bodies on board would be beneficial. As I said, if he gets away with it others will follow his lead.
iceicebaby - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:

Brilliant - good effort. I can be there on Friday anytime but not tomorrow. I live 5 min from the rock. I'm sure other local climbers might be keen to come along too (including a couple on this forum).
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

yhm

lets get as much exposure for this as possible!
Heike - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:

Do you think it's possible to also get somebody there with 'gravitas' (i.e. somebody from the MCofS or so) (not that you don't have any - I am just thinking somebody vaguely official might help). It might also be be a good idea to get in touch with the Access officer from the BMC - they are very good on advice from how things have been handled in England - so maybe they can give some tips.

I am really sad about this whole thing - I love to climb there and was looking forward to going back there soon.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Heike:

Indeed, the whole affair is very sad!

i cant take any further part with the BBC as im stuck in the middle of the highlands at the moment:-) but i have asked them to get intouch with the MCofS and SMC, although i dont recall ever seeing the SMC getting involved in this sort of thing. the BMC would be a good idea, although how much they will know about Scots law im not sure.....
184Dave on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie: Be aware journalists are looking for an interesting story. You might find climbers become the bad guys very quickly. Who ever ends up as the rep needs to do there homework.

Ive just spent the last hour researching bats there is loads of good info easily available. Look also to contacting the local bat protection body get there input. As was alluded to earlier the large boxes have some major flaws for bats not going to say more...

Try to get the Elgin estates reasoning if possible. So far the assumption is they are bat boxes. As far as I can see this has not been established. They may have another purpose! This may jump up and bite climber in the arse.

Who ever the rep is a level head, balanced argument with all the angles covered is needed...
184Dave on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: PS just look at the calamity that followed the BBC trying to help with Vixen tor!!!
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to 184Dave:

i have contacted the BMC access and conservation rep (and their press officer). there is a big difference between english and Scots access law, but she looks extremely well trained in conservation/ecology, so hopefully she can help us.

i agree, we should really sort out what the actual aim of Elgins behaviour is, rather than just assuming it is to block climbers access, and where we stand in terms of law. is there any lawyers out there who would be willing to help?
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:

ps. out of doors programme,does generally champion the rights of walkers/climbers etc, so hopefully they will be on our side......
Ian Jones on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:

Re. the BMc involvement.
Following on from the Craig y Forwen fiasco (where the BMC 'negotiated' an access agreement with a farmer who didn't even own the crag) can we just make sure that the BMC get in contacy with the actual landowner this time.

That's LORD ELGIN, hereditary peer of the realm.
184Dave on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:
> (In reply to 184Dave)
> i agree, we should really sort out what the actual aim of Elgins behaviour is, rather than just assuming it is to block climbers access, and where we stand in terms of law. is there any lawyers out there who would be willing to help?

I'm not concerned with his behaviour rather his intent regarding the boxes. Not what we are reading into the situation but what he will state openly! Only one post has mentioned contacting the estate, not with much luck. As Elgin is dealing directly with the boxes the estate has given no definitive answer...

The access situ would change if bats did roost they are heavily protected...

the crabbit man - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:
> (In reply to 184Dave)
>
> i have contacted the BMC access and conservation rep (and their press officer). there is a big difference between english and Scots access law, but she looks extremely well trained in conservation/ecology, so hopefully she can help us.
>
>

Might be a good idea to let the MCofS and SMC know that the BMC is willing to help. Could get the MCofS and/or SMC off their arses if they think that the BMC is trying to muscle in on their turf.:o)
184Dave on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to The Purple Pimpernel:
> (In reply to Neil Mackenzie)
> That's LORD ELGIN, hereditary peer of the realm.

I don't hold with titles so I'll call him Mr Bruce lol

tony on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to The Purple Pimpernel:

I'm not sure the BMC has been called upon, since they aren't the appropriate body in Scotland. Presumably someone has alerted Hebe Carus, Access Officer at the MCofS to the TV interest?
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to 184Dave:

totally agree. but i think the estate will not give any of us a definitive answer, we need the BMC/MCofS to make an official approach...

and yeh, it probably would help to contact the right person!!!
Neil Mackenzie - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man:
> (In reply to Neil Mackenzie)
> [...]
>
> Might be a good idea to let the MCofS and SMC know that the BMC is willing to help. Could get the MCofS and/or SMC off their arses if they think that the BMC is trying to muscle in on their turf.:o)


The BMC have not replied, at this stage i have only asked for their views on the matter.

i have asked the BBC to contact the MCofS but i have not yet informed the MCofS that the BBC are intending to cover the story
hebe on 10 Jun 2009 - 10.101.1.199 [nsabfw1.nsab.se]
I was made aware of this issue at 10pm yesterday, and have been in meetings today to plan a training event for Local Access Forums in understanding access issues so that their advice to local authorities is climber-sympathetic. The one Access & Conservation Officer (myself) and a handful of volunteers to cover the whole of Scotland unfortunately means we cannot monitor UKC and Scottishclimbs, but we are always very open to contact and working to resolve issues reported to us where they cannot be sorted easily by the local Access Officer Ė contacts of these people are on our website. So apologies for not be able to respond until I was informed of the situation.

A local MCofS rep has been monitoring the Gellet Rocks for climbers for around 3 years or more, and we have been involved in fire fighting issues since 1989, also updating climbers about the situation in the Scottish Mountaineer [Journal of the Mountaineering Council for Scotland]. We have been in frequent contact with the Fife Council Access Officer. These are the people with the statutory duty to uphold access rights, although usually have a huge backlog of issues and cannot always react as quickly as the reporter would ideally wish.

So as not to provide the landowner with ammunition against climbers, we have reminded people to keep the place tidy, park so as not to annoy locals, to use the local businesses etc etc and for local mountaineering clubs to keep a low profile at the crags to keep numbers manageable. In general the reaction has been excellent and because of this, the access issues has not flared up for a while, although there was still the outstanding matter of the fence with no official crossing point, and we are all a little frustrated that this is taking so long, but due to other statutory duties of access authorities, limekilns is not treated as a priority and I would urge all climbers this affects to report the difficulty of exercising your access rights responsibly due to the fact that there is no official crossing point in the fence to allow access. Most access authorities treat issues on a priority basis based on the number of reports. All your reports will move Limekilns up the agenda, which will then force an opening of negotiations at which point MCofS is ready to argue our case and find a long term solution.

Apparently this latest flare up has been spurred by people camping and lighting fires in the woods recently and Lord Elgin (owner) probably thought these were climber-linked and so has used this cunning plan with bat boxes as a new approach to stop climbers. Back in 1989 (pre-Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003) MCofS started trying to sort out the access problem, but without the law to back us up, it was all about good will and little rights. As we were in discussion, the following was painted on the rock "F*** Off Lord Elgin"!!! This escalated to land owner representatives painting all the holds with grease and refused to enter into discussion with us anymore. Not a great stance from which to negotiate and argue climbers are a nice responsible bunch that should be given access. Direct action, understandably tempting, is likely to be unhelpful, as essentially would be vandalism, and against the law (more ammunition for the landowner?).

I am currently on a train back north but have been in touch with the MCofS office, and there has been no contact from BBC and will certainly be chasing this as soon as I reach a phone, as well as liaising with MCofS local rep, Access Officer and Bat Conservation Trust. We have these contact networks already established for the very reason we can work on behalf of our members. Thanks to the 2 people that reported this issue direct to MCofS! We are now in a position where we can help.
hebe on 10 Jun 2009 - 10.101.1.199 [nsabfw1.nsab.se]
In reply to hebe: further to my last post - MCofS local rep has gone to investigate at both the boulders and at the estate office. The relevant Access Officer email is alison.irvine@fife.gov.uk
Sean Bell - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe: Thanks Hebe..
Lets get this sorted somehow.
Mrs Weasel - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
'I would urge all climbers this affects to report the difficulty of exercising your access rights responsibly due to the fact that there is no official crossing point in the fence to allow access. Most access authorities treat issues on a priority basis based on the number of reports. All your reports will move Limekilns up the agenda, which will then force an opening of negotiations at which point MCofS is ready to argue our case and find a long term solution.'

'further to my last post - MCofS local rep has gone to investigate at both the boulders and at the estate office. The relevant Access Officer email is alison.irvine@fife.gov.uk'

I've emailed Ms Irvine - everyone else please do the same!
andymoin - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe: Thanks for some official feedback Hebe.

>All your reports will move Limekilns up the agenda.

Just to be clear, dose this mean the more people get in contact with the local access rep the more of a priory it will become?

If so is it worth every one who gives a dam emailing them?

Cheers Andy
mav - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
Thanks Hebe
IceBun - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to the crabbit man: An old and tired point but the Scottish Mountaineering Club are a club and and have no more clout or interest in this than say, the Braes o Fife club. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland represent all member clubs and individuals in matters such as this. As Hebe points out we need to contact the MCof S and the local authority access officer for action. Lets not cloud the issue with our own confusion over who does or doesnt do what particularly as the press will be involved (and could be looking here, now)
the crabbit man - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to IceBun:

Sorry, I know that the SMC is only a club but I just included them without thinking as someone else had mentioned the BMC and the SMC. :o(

Must engage brain whilst mid rant.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Alec - on 10 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe: Thanks Hebe. I live about 5 miles away from Limekilns so am very concerned about this development. I've emailed the access officer too. Good luck.
oor wullie - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

I was lookig forward to going back there as I really enjoyed it last month.

Also might be worth getting in touch with the list MSPs that cover Fife and Central Scotland (after all they were some of the ones that made the access legislation). Although they don't specifically cover Limekilns, Fife is their remit.

They are:
Claire Baker
Ted Brocklebank
Murdo Fraser
Christopher Harvie
John Park
Richard Simpson
Elizabeth Smith

All have e-mail addresses name.name.msp@scottish.parliament.uk and would love to hear from you. Further contact details can be found on the parliament web site if you need phone numbers or postal addresses.

As has already been said politicians and civil servants prioritise things according to how much the public cares, they can only judge that by how much you tell them.

Tim
mhowie on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to oor wullie:
I live locally and have been in contact with our immediate (not PR-elected) MSP Jim Tolson. Also our local councillors. Jim Tolson and at least one of the Cllrs has replied to say that they are going to be in direct contact with the estate as are concerned about the issue. This sort of pressure and support can only help our case.
I found http://www.writetothem.com/ to be useful.


BelleVedere on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
> Thanks to the 2 people that reported this issue direct to MCofS!

:-) Chortle - amzaing that given the number of people that can express outrage on here only 2 can manage to report it to MCofS.
Beth Reed on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to es: I hope it gets resolved I like climbing at Limekilns, I sent a E-mail to MCofS
md@r on 11 Jun 2009 - proxy4.uws.ac.uk
In reply to oor wullie:
Good point about MSPs, they might pay attention given that the last Scottish Parliament election was so tight with some constituenecy majorities smaller than number of spoilt ballots and no majority party in parliament.

For those of us elsewhere in Scotland who would be the appropriate MSP to contact - is that determined by my constituency/area as I don't vote in the Limekilns constituency/area?
md@r on 11 Jun 2009 - proxy4.uws.ac.uk
Would the Mods consider making news article with photos? I hope that would allow non-members of UKC to see decent photos if I include a link in an email to my MSP.
In reply to davie.p.: Now on the UKC news page.

Thanks to Duncan for the report.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=47880

Jack
mhowie on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to md@r:
http://www.mysociety.org/projects/theyworkforyou/
and
http://www.writetothem.com/
are useful for finding who is responsible for what area at what level. Not sure what happens though if you have a concern over an issue in a different constituency though! The list that Oor Wullie gave are floating MSPs for the greater central scotland area - not sure if that covers you! Still I would see no harm in contacting Jim Tolson the local MSP. I got a positive response from a single message, but more people means a higher priority.
Toby S - on 11 Jun 2009
At the risk of being a touch contentious:


So to recap:

Lord Elginís wife has been sworn at.
Had damage done to his property by climbers.
Has had a plant with sentimental value damaged
Had ĎF*ck Off Lord Elginí daubed on the wall.


If I was him I would be a little pissed off at climbers and I can understand why. If someone had acting like this on my property then Iíd probably struggle to feel particularly welcoming to them.

Iím not saying heís gone about things in the right way (he hasnít!) but clearly thereís a bit of history here.

Heís an old man and presumably (with all due respect) not too long for this world. Should the climbing community just leave well alone for just now? Is there any sign that his next in line is any more sympathetic to climbers?
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Toby S:

>"So to recap:"

And also been mooned at. I think it is important that we don't forget that important point for I'm sure a vivid image returns to Lord Elgin every time he looks at his blocs.
hebe on 11 Jun 2009 - host81-147-137-83.range81-147.btcentralplus.com
In reply to davie.p.:

The MCofS is very much in agreement about the priority of access to Limekilns. We were only notified late Tuesday evening, and have been working hard since to gather evidence on which to base a well-argued case for finding a way for climbing to continue here. We do have to be quite clever about our arguments and keep the powers that be on our side by retaining our position of the "wronged" as essentially conservation laws are likely to take precedence over access as access rights do not apply when access is taken irresponsibly. This is explained in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and disturbing birds and bats nests would be "irresponsible." Also illegal under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. Hence we need to rely on negotiation. The MCofS access representative in the area who has been involved in keeping a lid on ongoing rumblings for many years and is to discuss the issues with the BBC radio tomorrow morning and will attempt to conact the landowner, Lord Elgin as soon as possible as well as the local Access Officer. The priority for resolution for the local Access Officer depends upon reports of the problem, so I would urge you to contact Alison Irvine at alison.irvine@fife.gov.uk to add your voice (copy to myself). In the meantime I have spoken to SNH, and trying to contact Bat Conservation Trust Scotland Officer and am checking guidelines for nest box location. The latter suggests the locations that have been used would not be preferred sites for boxes. Its about gather as much evidence as possible and getting as much support as possible from those with power of persuasion eg. government agencies. I think this is exactly why MCofS exists to do this sort of advocacy work in tricky situations, and why i am surprised there has been so much heat on forums like UKC and Scottishclimbs with only a few reports to ourselves. Presumably the local the Access Officer has had similarly few reports, which if true would be disappointing as she represents the authority that needs to have the issue raised numerous times to motivate use of resources to resolve it once and for all.
I hope to resolve this issue on behalf of Scottish climbers quickly and amicably and everyone can go back to enjoying responsible climbing at Limekilns. Updates will be posted on the MCofS website news section rather than here, please keep an eye on www.mcofs.org.uk. This is actually my own non-work profile on UKC, so if you wish to contact me at MCofS, please use hebe@mcofs.org.uk as I only generally check this occasional in non-work time. thanks
Mehmet Karatay - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
> (In reply to davie.p.)
>
> ... i am surprised there has been so much heat on forums like UKC and Scottishclimbs with only a few reports to ourselves.

Personally, once I saw that someone had reported it to the MCofS I didn't see the need to clog up their inboxes further. My guess is that many others felt the same? I don't know if that's the right approach or not...

Now that I know that the Access Officers priorities problems by the number of notifications I will be getting in touch with them. In the past I had assumed, once they knew about a problem they knew about it.

Mehmet
ring ouzel on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe: But you can only disturb things if they are there to disturb in the first place hebe. Bats wont be using those boxes for a while, its far too late in the season for that. Someone with a bat detector should get down there pronto and do a quick survey and also check the boxes for signs of use. If you know what you are doing its quick, easy and non-invasive.
mav - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
Don't know if this explains why Hebe got so few emails, but the email address on the MCofS website is not the one she quotes above!
Tim Chappell - on 11 Jun 2009
I've just sent this email to Alison Irvine. May I suggest a bit of a UKC letter-writing campaign on this? Those of you who live in South Fife, or indeed in Edinburgh, can try something like this out on your MPs, MSPs, and councillors:


"Dear Ms Irvine

I am writing to express my concern about a new threat to access to the popular and long-established climbing venue of Limekilns, near Inverkeithing.

Very recently a row of what are apparently bat boxes have been put up in rows across an impressive and atmospheric section of the crag called the Gellet Block, about 8 ot 9 feet off the ground. (There is a picture of them here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=117530 .) So far as I can see, their presence makes it more or less impossible for climbers to climb approximately 30 well-established climbing routes of various grades-- all of which have been listed for years in the SMC's and others' official climbing guides to the area.

Also, the boxes have been put up by drilling bolts into the rock, which is limestone, a notoriously brittle rock; there is no way that this drilling can have failed to have damage the rock.

Finally, there is I believe a serious question about whether the boxes have been put up in a place, or at a time, which is at all suitable for nesting bats (as opposed to obstructing climbers). Bats, I gather, are likely to find their nests rather earlier in the year. But if they were to use these boxes in the future-- so far the boxes are unused-- they would be nesting in a very vulnerable position, in full view and quite easy reach of any passing human or animal (a cat, for instance) with malign intentions. Thus these boxes, as well as being very bad news for climbers, are not even good news for bats either.

The situation is worrying, both in itself and (even more so) considering the precedent it might be thought to set for what could happen at other familiar climbing venues in Scotland. Climbers do not, of course, think that they are the only people entitled to use such venues, and we recognise the rights of the landowner. But this does seem like an action which has little imaginable purpose except to obstruct climbers from the harmless pursuit of their chosen form of recreation-- a recreation which nowadays makes a significant contribution to the health, not to mention the economy, of Scotland.

So I do hope that some reasonable, friendly, and mutually agreeable solution to this problem can be found, and I am writing to you to urge you, please, to look into this as a matter of the highest possible priority.

With all best wishes

Professor Timothy Chappell"
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Tim Chappell:

>"by drilling bolts into the rock, which is limestone"

Perhaps a bit pot-kettle-black there...
Tim Chappell - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to JLS:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> >"by drilling bolts into the rock, which is limestone"
>
> Perhaps a bit pot-kettle-black there...

??? I've never drilled a bolt in my life.
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Tim Chappell:

>"I've never drilled a bolt in my life."#

I assumed you where writing on behalf of the climbing community as a whole.
Tim Chappell - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to JLS:


What an odd thing to assume. No, I'm writing as a concerned individual.

Are you going to write? I hope so.
ads.ukclimbing.com
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Tim Chappell:

>"Are you going to write?"

No. Mainly out of laziness but also as someone above pointed out I'm not entirely convinced climbers as a community have been squeaky clean in there dealing with Lord Elgin. Sure he's probably a grumpy old fart and it's only a tiny minority of climbers that have given him a bit of trouble but I'm struggling to find much high moral ground to stand on.

Fair play to you for making the effort.
mhowie on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Tim Chappell:
Can I add that some comment should be added to the email that there is a willingness in [at least some of!] the climbing community to be constructive and to help the estate to manage the land use issues through regular clean-ups, and fence and path work [such as the style that a few folk have proposed and have stated a willingness to contribute towards]
?

A constructive and positive approach to a mutual understanding is the best path to a solution. It is the only method that will be employed by the MCoS reps, the Access Officer, the MSPs and the councillors.
Tim Chappell - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to JLS:

I'm not entirely convinced climbers as a community have been squeaky clean in there dealing with Lord Elgin. Sure he's probably a grumpy old fart and it's only a tiny minority of climbers that have given him a bit of trouble but I'm struggling to find much high moral ground to stand on.
>



What are you implying? That the actions of an irresponsible few mean that any landowner in the UK has the right to ban everyone from climbing wherever and whenever he feels like banning them?

If so, then, well, I disagree.
Porridge the climber - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Tim Chappell:
Good letter. I'm at work now, but once I get home I'll be e-mailing this around. I can well see the need to badger MSPs and the like - they are far more likely to act after 100 e-mails.
However, I'm stunned that the MCofS feel they need to be badgered to decide this is an important issue. Can they not see that for themselves from 1 e-mail?
James Beckett on 11 Jun 2009 - 62.189.154.69 whois?
In reply to davie.p.:

I've emailed Alison as well as all the MSP's listed.

Sincerely hope everyone else who climbs at Limekilns can do the same.

Copy of email below if anyone hasn't got time to draft their own one and wants to send something.

Dear Alison Irvine

I am an active climber who lives in Edinburgh and have been climbing at Limekilns for a number of years.

It has therefore saddened me to note that hereditary peer, Lord Elgin, has recently (i.e. I understand at some point in the week commencing Monday 8 June 2009) installed what appear to be bat boxes on each of the two limestone blocks which are currently used by climbers, further, it appears (albeit only he can confirm) that he has done this with the sole aim of restricting access to his land.

Whilst I am no legal expert this does appear to be contrary to Section 14.1 of the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003, and if this is the case, then this action would appear to be illegal (?) and therefore unacceptable.

Please let me know how best to pursue this with a view to maintaining access to these historic blocks.

I would also stress the urgency for immediate action to ensure that no bird / creature decides to nest in the aforementioned boxes before we have a ruling on this issue.

Thanks and regards

James Beckett
tony on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to JLS:
>
> No. Mainly out of laziness but also as someone above pointed out I'm not entirely convinced climbers as a community have been squeaky clean in there dealing with Lord Elgin. Sure he's probably a grumpy old fart and it's only a tiny minority of climbers that have given him a bit of trouble but I'm struggling to find much high moral ground to stand on.

Is it a question of finding high moral ground? Doesn't that rather reduce the whole thing to a 'them and us' situation, which is pretty much why we're in the state we are in at Limekilns. Wouldn't it be possible to accept that both sides have made mistakes in the past and that there should be scope for agreement in the future, based with the legal rights as laid out in the Access Code?
niallk on 11 Jun 2009
Kind of a side issue, but do we know these are definitely bat boxes? Showed the picture to my girlfriend who's an ecologist (and her twitcher friends) and they're not like any bat boxes they've seen.
tony on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Porridge the climber:

> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
> Good letter. I'm at work now, but once I get home I'll be e-mailing this around. I can well see the need to badger MSPs and the like - they are far more likely to act after 100 e-mails.
> However, I'm stunned that the MCofS feel they need to be badgered to decide this is an important issue. Can they not see that for themselves from 1 e-mail?

Do you act on every single email you receive? Particularly when you've got dozens to deal with, there are only so many hours in a day, and you have to prioritise?

To be honest, I don't think is something that MSPs should be taking up until and unless all other avenues have been exhausted. The MCofS and the local Access Officer are now on the case, and I think we need to wait to see how they get on.
the crabbit man - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
> (In reply to hebe)
> [. i am surprised there has been so much heat on forums like UKC and Scottishclimbs with only a few reports to ourselves. ...]
>
> Personally, once I saw that someone had reported it to the MCofS I didn't see the need to clog up their inboxes further. My guess is that many others felt the same? I don't know if that's the right approach or not...
>
>

This was also my response, didn't know that it required lots of e-mails.
Sensible I suppose as it would be OTT to respond to just one complaint when no one else has moaned.
Tim Chappell - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to tony:


On the contrary-- I think this is a good time to bother politicians, especially MPs. I suspect they're likely to be more eager to please than they usually are!
Martin W on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to 184Dave:
> (In reply to davie.p.) PS just look at the calamity that followed the BBC trying to help with Vixen tor!!!

If you are referring the programme with former UN peace negotiator to Bosnia Colonel Bob Stewart, that was Channel 5 not the BBC.
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to tony:

>"Is it a question of finding high moral ground?"

Well no but I'd personally need some to see over the inertia of laziness.
MG - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Toby S:
> At the risk of being a touch contentious:
>
>
> So to recap:
>
> Lord Elginís wife has been sworn at.
> Had damage done to his property by climbers.
> Has had a plant with sentimental value damaged
> Had ĎF*ck Off Lord Elginí daubed on the wall.
>


After reading about all that I am rather coming round to his point of view! I am not sure mass letter writing and involving everyone from the BBC to MSPs is really going make him any more sympathetic to climbers' point of view. I would have thought seeing what progress the MCoS and possibly local councillors make by diplomatic discussion would be a good place to start. Bats are very unlikely to inhabit the boxes in the near future so I don't think there is any great rush.
davie.p. - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to mhowie: I think that's a good idea. There should be enough local climbers who would happily help out on clean ups etc.

Also the fence that has been trampled seems to be an ongoing issue - perhaps we can get some action on it. We have a right to 'responsible access' so why not a stile or gate?

I like your idea of getting involved with the local Community Council - they seem to meet pretty regulary up at the Queen's Hall. I'm sure we could go along to the next meeting.

I will send my email to Alison Irvine this afternoon and would urge anyone else who cares about the future of climbing at Limekilns to do the same.

Salamander - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to MG:

In fact you're quite right, lets just sit back and do hee haw apart from flapping on in this forum and then when access is restricted as bats have nested, and when the MSPs comment that no one contacted them so what could they have done, THEN you can start another forum in UKC moaning about how come you can't climb at Limekilns anymore and what a great venue it was, and why no one did anything, blah, blah, blah.

Finger out slacker.

The more complaints these guys receive, the more they are likely to act on it. FACT.
MG - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Salamander:

> The more complaints these guys receive, the more they are likely to act on it. FACT.

If I was Lord Elgin and had had my property vandalised and been abused by climbers I would probably just dig my heels in if they then mounted a huge publicity campaign against me. I was just suggesting not antagonising him further might be more productive, I wasn't suggesting doing nothing.

May be I should have written in capitals and called you names to have convinced you?

BelleVedere on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Porridge the climber:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> However, I'm stunned that the MCofS feel they need to be badgered to decide this is an important issue. Can they not see that for themselves from 1 e-mail?

err - they did!

but at the same time they need evidence and facts to go off (hard to find on this thread amongst the outrage and suposition) - so I'm pretty sure they would appreciate first hand accounts, and updates on developments.

In addition this isn't the only access issue in scotland at the moment, and the staff of MCofS can't be expected to monitor all the climbing media (Scottishclimbs, UKC, UKbouldering, Scottish Outdoor, club forums, Blogs, twitter, facebook and so on).

I think the message is don't expect posting on in a thread on UKC to reach them, and don't assume just beacuse the thread on here has reached 1000 posts that anyone has told them.
mhowie on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to MG:
> Lord Elginís wife has been sworn at.
> Had damage done to his property by climbers.
> Has had a plant with sentimental value damaged
> Had ĎF*ck Off Lord Elginí daubed on the wall.
This happened in 1988 / 89. That's 20 years ago. And a period of reasonable access has come about in the last few years (thanks in part to MCoS) - until this week.
The BBC and MSPs couldn't really pretend that this is the current problem, although it does have some bearing on the issue.
johnSD on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

> Thanks to Duncan for the report.
>
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=47880

Would it make sense for someone to put a print out or similar up on the notice boards at Alien, Ratho, or anywhere else relevant? Not everybody uses these websites, and although the rumour mill is probably doing a fine job, it might be worth helping it out.
iceicebaby - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:
> (In reply to mhowie)

> I like your idea of getting involved with the local Community Council - they seem to meet pretty regulary up at the Queen's Hall. I'm sure we could go along to the next meeting.

Agreed - Sue Hamilton is the best contact there I would imagine. I'm sure she would be very interested in this. Her details here: http://fifedirect.org.uk/orgs/index.cfm?fuseaction=display&orgid=009B815F-BC27-BA2B-3123E2A6D408...

ads.ukclimbing.com
Salamander - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to MG: Don't take offence MG, I just find it difficult to understand that there's this big hoo ha on UKC about how awful this is, etc, etc, and then Hebe comes on and says she's only heard about it from like 2 people. Another "all fart, no poo" situation.

Anyway, I stongly believe the more emails these people, get the more likely they are to take action. If you don't agree, just sit back and let events take their course, just don't complain afterwards.
In reply to davie.p.: Thanks for posting, this is the first I've heard of it. Was going to go to Limekilns yesterday but didn't manage it...

I'm deeply disturbed by the actions of Lord Elgin and his employees, there can be only one purpose behind it. I've just written to all and sundry as it's the least any of us could do.

Please don't do anything rash anyone, it would be a total own goal. Let's see what Hebe can do and await the response of the various councillors and MSPs with bated breath etc.
In reply to davie.p.: P.S. Dear Eds, r.e. the news item it is Gellet block, not Gellert
In reply to JLS:
> Sure he's probably a grumpy old fart


Do you think that will help in a campaign to allow climbers more access to the crag?


Chris

MelH - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to all:

Right guys, I've done my bit and sent an email to MCofS and the access officer at Fife Council. Although I thought it would be better if we didn't inundate them with loads of emails I can see the point that it makes them aware that a number of us are concerned about it.

It was a really long winded email which they probably won't bother to read but I hope it helps the cause anyway.

Mel
icehockeyhair - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to dan bailey:

Oops, that'll be my mistake then.....
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to Chris Craggs:

>"Do you think that will help in a campaign to allow climbers more access to the crag?"

At least you can see why it's probably for the best I'm not writing emails to MSPs etc.
In reply to icehockeyhair: what you done?
David Gibson - on 11 Jun 2009
MCofS Spokeperson to be interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland

Beryl Leatherland, past chair of the MCofS Access & Conservation Committee and resident of Limekilns, will be interviewed on the BBC Radio Scotland programme Out of Doors on Saturday 13 June. The BBC are trying to get a spokesperson from the estate to particpate in the interview.

Transmission times are:

Saturday 9 June from 06:30 to 08:00

Sunday 10 June from 11:00 to 12:00

graeme_s on 11 Jun 2009 - omnifone.com
In reply to David Gibson:

Cheers for that.

Graeme.
graeme_s on 11 Jun 2009 - omnifone.com
In reply to David Gibson:

Actually, are those dates wrong? Is it this weekend?

Graeme.
David Gibson - on 11 Jun 2009
MCofS Spokeperson to be interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland

Sorry folks, clarification of transmission times:

Beryl Leatherland will be interviewed on the BBC Radio Scotland programme Out of Doors on Saturday 13 June.

Transmission times are:

Saturday 13 June from 06:30 to 08:00

Sunday 14 June from 11:00 to 12:00

And not as previously stated

Current updates at http://www.mcofs.org.uk/news.asp

Updated 11 June 2009

mhowie on 11 Jun 2009
Boxes have been taken down. Not sure how or who yet, but sounds like the estate did it.
Neil Mackenzie - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to mhowie:
> Boxes have been taken down. Not sure how or who yet, but sounds like the estate did it.

hope it is the estate, if so SWEET!!!

if not, we could be in for some trouble :-(
5cifi - BAD SELLER - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Well done to davie.p., Neil Mackenzie and iceicebaby.

I think you 3 did the most from the UKCers's.

Thanks alot
Roberttaylor - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Should we email the estate and say thanks?
hebe on 11 Jun 2009 - host81-147-137-83.range81-147.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Roberttaylor:

hi
id hold your horses on thanking the estate until we confirm tomorrow the who and why. Beryl (MCofS area rep who spoke to the estate office yesterday to encourage them that maybe nest boxes werent the way ahead) has just been up to the crag, and indeed they are no longer. There are tyre marks all over the ground. This suggests that the estate has been up and removed them, but i wouldnt jump to conclusions, and will confirm this on MCofS website tomorrow.
when we can confirm that, certainly thanks to the estate are in order, maybe climbers and the Lord can make friends after all :-)
Hay - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:
Hi Hebe,
My thoughts exactly - although it does sound 'official'.
If so then two things; firstly extremely well done to the diplomats and peaceful activists. Good effort!! Secondly I think the Estate would be due 'thank you' and a commitment from the climbing community (whatever that is!) to generally good behaviour.
A proper gate, a path from block to block and signage of 'dos and don'ts' might be a start. As an individual I would be willing to help/contribute and I think local Clubs and other regulars should too.

Bruce
subalpine - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to mhowie:
> Boxes have been taken down. Not sure how or who yet, but sounds like the estate did it.

hope everyone's happy now

davie.p. - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to mhowie: Mark's right! They're gone!
Just been up to have a look and it does appear that they have been carefully and completely removed. There are signs of fresh tyre tracks all around.

Remaining in the rock however are the little bolts to put them up. Doesn't seem to be any further damage to the rock. Might be worth someone who knows all the routes checking them out soon to see if any serious damage or changes have been made to them.

Meanwhile the people of Charlestown and Limekilns are rejoycing. Complete strangers are hugging in the streets; grown men are openly weeping; the air is full of the sounds of laughter and song.

Tomorrow I will celebrate in the traditional manner by bouldering my arms off.
(After I've checked that's ok with the estate)
ads.ukclimbing.com
MF2005 - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to mhowie:
> Boxes have been taken down. Not sure how or who yet, but sounds like the estate did it.

Better confirm with the estate, 4 days seems a quick turnaround time, and there are plenty of climbing vigilantes out there
the crabbit man - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to all:

Good news if it was the estate that took them down, but we as climbers need to remember to behave ourselves and not give the estate any grief. Nobody has won or lost, we all have to co-exist.

If they have been removed after someone had a quiet word on behalf of us climbers, well done.
MelH - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to hebe:

Nice one.

I def think if this has been resolved we need to be nice to the Estate and Lord Elgin. I, for one, will happily be involved in helping to build a stile or whatever it will take for there to be peace and love between the estate and the climbing community.

"peace and love, peace and love" (a la Ringo Star) hehe
Anonymous on 11 Jun 2009 - 92.25.202.217 whois?
Excellent news! My dream of climbing at Limekilns returns into view!

FWIW, my guess is that what really moved the Elgin estate into this lightning-swift turnaround is a phone call from Radio Scotland saying "Want to put someone up to defend your actions, then?" They'll have seen the possibly horrific negative publicity that would then be coming their way... and realised they're not going to win this one. Good old Beeb!

Mind you, the bolts and the drill-holes are still in the wall. They could revert to plan B at a moment's notice.
Neil Mackenzie - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to 5cifi:
> (In reply to davie.p.) Well done to davie.p., Neil Mackenzie and iceicebaby.
>
> I think you 3 did the most from the UKCers's.
>
> Thanks alot


well, it was more exciting than writing my thesis :-)

no seriously though, if it was the estate that have taken them down then the big thanks goes to them and the gentle persuation from the MCofS!

and we obviously have to be grateful and make sure that we dont upset the landowners again, or any others around the country! id be more than happy to help out with stiles/paths etc to make sure that we can work together to allow climbing to continue in peace at this and other venues.

cheers to everyone who helped out!
JLS on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

>"Remaining in the rock however are the little bolts to put them up."

Do the bolts look like they'd take a fall with appropriate hangers fitted?
5cifi - BAD SELLER - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to all: Prehaps a written letter expressing our thanks would be more apprioate than an email. I will have a go at drafting one on the PC
iceicebaby - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to all:

Hmmmm interesting developments! I'm not sure this will be the end of it though, and I don't think it should be the end of it. Whilst its a pretty localised example it has raised a major and previously unforeseen (?)access/conservation/landuse/land development issues which have wide ranging implications...and not just for recreation at the Gellet Block.

For info, I've had a flick through the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and found the following:

The Access Law states that the land owner must not

"purposefully or unreasonably prevent, hinder, or deter people from accessing rights on or off paths of tracks"

and that he/she must

"take access rights into account when planning and implementing any major land use change or development"

Does turning a disused quarry into, essentially a conservation site count as a landuse change?? If it does (which for a species as well protected as bats, I think it should constitute a landuse change) then he has surely failed to consider the access rights when planning the bat nests. But if it doesn't constitute a landuse change, then it might be a different story. How do you define a landuse change?!

Specifically relating to the Limekilns issue though, we need to speak to estate management and find out what their plans are for the area. The estate very obviously object to climbers, and I would really like to hear from the horse's mouth what the issues behind this really are here. I agree on the fence/stile issue, and I think a sign telling climbers about the history of the area, the estate, the rock type, the wildlife, do's n don'ts around the crag would be much more useful and fitting in this day and age than the "Danger, disused quarry" one. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

I'm putting my batman costume away for now though.... ;-)
Wee Davie - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

Fingers crossed it stays that way!
I remember going there in the 'grease' days and thinking it was a terrible waste....
Well done to all who have done their bit in emailing etc.
george mc - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
> I agree on the fence/stile issue, and I think a sign telling climbers about the history of the area, the estate, the rock type, the wildlife, do's n don'ts around the crag would be much more useful and fitting in this day and age than the "Danger, disused quarry" one. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
>
>
Careful with the that argument - you then have the Mines and Quarries Act provisions to take into account.

mal_meech on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Wee Davie:
Sutibly impressed by the speed of a resolution, heres hoping it's permanent. Big congrats to everyone involved, and heres hoping the radio interview still goes ahead. As has already been noted it'll only take them 5min to put them all back up again! Weathers nice, might have to escape the office and go climbing while we can...
In reply to davie.p.: That's a qualified phew from me.

Just remember - the price of freedom is constant vigilance. Or something.
md@r on 12 Jun 2009 - host86-161-237-14.range86-161.btcentralplus.com
For the sake of good relations I would be great if the SMC wrote to thank the estate and ask how climbers can collaborate with the estate.
What can climbers do to help and get a good image? Maybe a encourage each climber to pick up any litter (not just their own) they find in the woods on each visit. It would actually keep the place pristine if each climber removed a very small bag of litter.

The fence does seem to be trashed though.

I'd better write to my MSPs saying it seems to have been resolved.

Haven't been to Limekilns this year - I must get there. Yippeee!

fimm on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to md@r:

Not the SMC, the MCofS.

And I think the access situation there still has to be described as 'fragile'. I don't expect the estate to stop here - they obviously would prefer for there to be no access to the blocks. I hope that whoever it was who was going to talk to them still does, so that we can have a way forward where we can have responsible access in co-operation with the estate.

I also think that we have to be honest and say that yes in the past some climbers have behaved badly, but that we are where we are and we don't want anything like that to happen in the future.
Martin W on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Neil Mackenzie:

> and we obviously have to ... make sure that we dont upset the landowners again ... id be more than happy to help out with stiles/paths etc to make sure that we can work together to allow climbing to continue in peace at this and other venues.

100% agree. Would it be possible to arrange with the estate office to get a joint working party together to repair the fence and build a stile? We could use UKC to scare up volunteers - there's been enough contributors to this thread after all!

On the related subject of litter picking: if anyone does tidy up rubbish that they find at the crag then it might be worthwhile popping in to the Broomhall Estate office, or giving them a call (the number is easily Googlable), just to say: "I went to climb on the Gellet Block and found that someone had left a load of litter there. Don't worry, I've collected it up and will dispose of it for you." That way they should become aware that at least some climbers are responsible and helpful, and will be less likely in future to generalise all climbers as hooligans.

It would be great if we could use this incident as the catalyst to actually get a good relationship between climbers and the estate, rather than just leaving the estate feeling that they have been browbeaten into sullen submission once again.
StuDoig - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to md@r:
Should the Auchternaewhere Mountaineering Club also write to the estate? Or do you mean MCofS (Mountaineering Council of Scotland) as opposed to SMC (Scottish Mountaineering Club)? :O)

Stuart
In reply to Martin W: Good idea
Fiona Reid - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

It's very good news that the boxes have gone but please don't assume that's everything sorted out.

The text below was sent to members of the Edinburgh JMCS. Beryl mentioned below is Beryl Leatherland, MCofS Regional Access Rep.

"Beryl has asked me to update members about the situation at Limekilns.

It now seems that the bat boxes, apparently placed by the estate to
discourage climbers, have disappeared and so 'low profile' climbing can
resume for the time being at least.

However Beryl also mentioned that the estate plan to mend the holes in the
fences in the near future so alternative access arrangements will need to
be brokered to allow legitimate access to the crags.

Many thanks to Beryl for investigating this alarming development."


Basically, it seems that the fence may well get repaired very soon which will mean that access could once more be an issue.
md@r on 12 Jun 2009 - host86-161-237-14.range86-161.btcentralplus.com
In reply to StuDoig:
> (In reply to md@r)
> Should the Auchternaewhere Mountaineering Club also write to the estate? Or do you mean MCofS (Mountaineering Council of Scotland) as opposed to SMC (Scottish Mountaineering Club)? :O)
>
> Stuart

Don't ask me, as usual I don't know what I'm taking about and getting my TLAs confused.

Yes, I should have said MCoS not SMC.

Even though they're not my party, here's a plug for the SNP as Sandra White MSP replied to say she'd look into it. I wrote back saying progress has been made & boxes removed.

I wrote to my Glasgow MSPs as an access problem in one location will have an impact on people all over the place who travel to that venue.
CurlyStevo - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Fiona Reid:
is it legal to repair the fence without providing some way of accessing the land. Surely landowners with land which is now right to roam can't just fence the whole lot off legally?
ads.ukclimbing.com
catt on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Fiona Reid:
> Basically, it seems that the fence may well get repaired very soon which will mean that access could once more be an issue.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity for climbers to offer to carry out the repairs and install a style while they are at it. Will save the estate time and money.

I'd happily make a contribution to the cost, being one of the climbers who has in the past jumped the fence.

ring ouzel on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: Thats good news about the boxes. Couple of things. Does MCofS have policies in place to deal with these ecological issues, it might be worth thinking about as it will surely happen again. Also if Lord Elgin's estate really are concerned about biodiversity then I am sure there are a few of us who could help him out there in a way that would be beneficial to wildlife and climbing.
CurlyStevo - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to catt:
Aye I'd make a contribution also and don't mind spending some of my time to help out.
StuDoig - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to CurlyStevo:
I don't believe that its legal for them to Fence it off completely, though they are only compelled to keep rights of way open so they could argue as long as access is possible from somewhere they are entitled to restore the fence in that location to its previous condition. If they do fence the whole lot off, I suspect its not a quick process to force them to remedy the situation unless the council want to take a very aggressive stance.

I'd recon the best recourse (in the v. short term) if the estate does fence it off would be for a local club or group of climbers to nip up and install a stile, or place a step ladder over the fence, digging it in and anchoring the legs maybe as a temp fix (assuming the fence isn't too tall for this?) climbers get access and the estate's fence remains undamaged so hopefully no complaints. Ideally doing this in co-operation with the estate, amazing how a bit of shared labour can improve relations on the ground!

Cheers,

Stuart




jamestheyip - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Me too. Wouldn't mind sparing a weekend afternoon and some material cost. I have a stiles and gates building guidebook in the office which I can borrow. Perhaps I can borrow some tools too.
jamestheyip - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to jamestheyip:

Actually I might be able to get some larch off cuts (which you normally need to order from saw mills) and fixing from my boss. I like the idea of working together with the estate workers.
Martin W on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to jamestheyip: Add me to the number prepared to get stuck in!

As well as co-ordinating the intiative with the estate office I'd suggest that the MCofS are kept updated with any progress.
geezer - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Everyone:

Great News that the boxes have come down and I along with others on this forum am happy to help in anyway I can with stile building etc.

Whoever takes the lead let us know.

A word of caution!

Limekilns has had an unusual amount of press coverage this last week.

Dont everyone go rushing to climb there over the next month and cause the congestion problems that will cause further problems.

Some will make a visit just to see the bolt holes i'm sure!

It's a great place to climb when it's not too busy and too many people all at the same time will cause problems.

Neil
londonrocks on 12 Jun 2009 - 79-77-169-35.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com
In reply to davie.p.: I've been following this thread and it seems very interesting. Well done to all involved. Although it doesn't really affect me at all it has been very interesting.

Looking back in the thread he can't completely deny access by using a fence. It is specifically covered by the right to roam, as far as I can tell. How ever they were taken down very quickly. Bear this in mind, keep on your toes and bear in mind that they could pull any trick next.
geezer - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to jamestheyip:

James

Only a budding architect would have "stiles and gates building guidebook" to hand

Is it an SMC book?

Neil
5cifi - BAD SELLER - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to geezer:


I have to strongly agree with geezer here.

http://www.grough.co.uk/view/2009/06/11/battle-royal-as-crag-boxes-drive-climbers-bats/

If a huge amount of climbers suddenly covay here, access issue's will raise again.

I'd be more than happy to contribute finacilly to gate/stile/fence. Live in Manchester so can't help with building or tidying I'm afraid.
md@r on 12 Jun 2009 - proxy4.uws.ac.uk
Even though they're also not my usual party, now here's a plug for the Tories.

Bill Aitken MSP emailed back saying he'd been in touch with his party's regional list person for that area (Ted Brocklebank MSP). I replied saying boxes had been removed already and I hope any future fence repairs will include a stile or gate to maintain access.
jamestheyip - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to geezer:

Hi Neil,

The book's title is 'Footpaths' and is published by the British trust for conservation Volunteers in the early eighties. There's a chapter on stiles and gate.

Will be good if someone can organise a date with the estate. Look forward to a sunny climbing-building afternoon. Perhaps we can convince someone from the estate to take up climbing too!

James
iceicebaby - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Martin W:
> (In reply to jamestheyip) Add me to the number prepared to get stuck in!
>
> As well as co-ordinating the intiative with the estate office I'd suggest that the MCofS are kept updated with any progress.


I'm in touch with the appropriate member of the MCofS on this. MCofS and are up to date (actually, they're ahead of us!) and have been talking to various members of the estate during this week. Before anyone builds a stile or gate, we need to give this a bit of time to settle and find out what the landowners plans for the area are. If it really is to be converted to some sort of conservation project then it may be that climbing and therefore a gate/stile is inappropriate. I think we need to just stay away for a bit until the estate have communicated their issues/problems/plans via the MCofS. Hopefully they will do this. I think a stile would be a nice gesture from the local climbing community if climbing is given the green light. I think we're just on amber at the moment!
mhowie on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:
> I think a stile would be a nice gesture from the local climbing community if climbing is given the green light. I think we're just on amber at the moment!

Thanks for the confirmation on this!

The MCoS have been heavily involved in this over the last few days, working out the details. Yes for sure the BBC and MSP and Councillors and the Access Officer have all added pressure for a reasonable and legal solution. But I think the MCoS are our most important reps on working out the details of the solution, and we should listen to what they say about present and future access. I know that they are (obviously) pushing for access for climbers! They seem to have the most direct line of communication between the climbers here and the estate.



Martin W on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: Sounds like you have volunteered yourself as UKC's liason with the MCofS on this issue. Well done! Is the MCofS aware that there are local climbers willing to work* co-operatively with the estate on a mutually acceptable solution to the fence/alternative access question?

* by which I mean real, getting your hands dirty type work, not sitting around in meetings - I do quite enough of that in my day job as it is...

(I can be e-mailed through UKC if a working party does get under way.)
Neil Mackenzie - on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

well done and a big thanks to Christina, Beryl, Alison and the BBC!!!

good little report on out of doors this morning covering all the climbing/access issues, but as the estate failed to respond to any questioning it painted us in a very good light!

as ive said before, happy to take part in a working party once this whole thing settles down, would help to organise but im based in the highlands all summer, but will come down for arranged time!

Cheers
Neil
andymoin - on 13 Jun 2009
md@r on 13 Jun 2009 - host86-161-95-143.range86-161.btcentralplus.com
Well done and thanks to all involved.
california climber gal on 13 Jun 2009 - 94-193-59-79.zone7.bethere.co.uk
In reply to andymoin:
> (In reply to Neil Mackenzie) Nice one http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00l59vk @ 45min.

Just listened to this; kudos to all the climbers and authorities involved!

ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to california climber gal: Great stuff, thanks to all concerned
McGus on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby:

well done everyone! I've only just read this and heard about it having been out of the loop this week. Worrying developments and certainly appeared to have been an ill-judged attempt to prevent climbing but cudos and credit to everyone who got involved. Great.

I live very local too and am more than happy to get involved in helping out in anyway I can.
davie.p. - on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to iceicebaby: Just listened to the program - well done Christina, Beryl and Alison!

Great to see that involving the media really can help if its done responsibly. You gave a great account of the situation.

And thanks to Hebe at MCofS and Alison Irvine and all the MSPs/Councillors who responded so quickly. Thanks to mhowie for send all them emails. I can't believe this has been resolved (kind of) so quickly.

Let's see about getting that fence/stile situation sorted now . . .
ShoePolice - on 13 Jun 2009
Strikes me that Elgin is going about this all wrong. He could manage the situation much better by helping climbers - a few benches / tables* around the place to dump kit and sit about (this might help prevent so much damage to the vegetation around the place) and a few friendly signs just to remind people to keep the place tidy, a map of where to park, list of shops / pubs / public WCs etc to visit. Nothing outlandishly touristy, but managing the situation rather than fighting it would encourage a much better relationship between all concerned and a mutual interest in looking after the place.

Poor old guy's probably too afraid or sick of more abuse to see the wood for the trees.

*which could be made as part of estate management involvement from local trees if anyone has any carpentry skills. For example. I'd certainly be up for some voluntary estate management as has been mentioned.
ShoePolice - on 13 Jun 2009
Ah, just read the last few posts. I had stopped halfway up.

If any voluntary work IS happening let me know!
Sonya Mc on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to all: For those who are interested, who didn't email Alison Irvine, here is a copy of her email in reply.

I had hoped that even though the boxes had been removed, the local climbing community could possibly get into peaceful negotiations with Lorg Elgin and the estate re access, other wise this seems like a hollow victory as far as I (and others) are concerned. It's not just about what we want as climbers. This land *is* Lord Elgins and we must all come to a compromise which keeps both sides happy, not just climbers. And it would seem that Alison Irvine is going to manage to have talks with the Estate, as stated in her email below.

Dear All,
Please excuse the mass e-mail response. I will reply separately to anyone who made very specific comments or suggestions.
Thank you all very much for your e-mails of concern about the apparent attempt to block access to the Gellet rock by erecting bat and bird boxes on it. By now I am sure you are all aware that the Estate land agents very quickly arranged to have the boxes taken down, and the rock is now clear of boxes.
I have also arranged to meet with the Estate again very soon to discuss general access to the Gellet Rock. Climbing through a hole in the fence caused by vandals is not a long term ideal for the area.
Many of you will be aware that access to the rock has been difficult, if not impossible prior to the passing of the Land Reform Act. Since then access to climb has been possible albeit somewhat ad hoc. I appreciate that local climbers have regularly kept the area free from litter and that climbing access has been very responsible.

I will try to keep you informed of the discussions with the Estate about longer term access. If any of you DO NOT wish me to keep your e-mail details on a group list, please let me know.

Yours,
Alison Irvine

halo on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to ring ouzel: My thoughts exactly they will encourage birds but not bats.
fimm on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to andymoin:
> (In reply to Neil Mackenzie) Nice one http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00l59vk @ 45min.

Agreed, well worth listening to. Worth going right through to about 55 minutes to include the man talking about the law about bats.
Brendan Hanratty on 13 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.: could we have another ukc news update at some point to summerise this situation/thread?
california climber gal on 14 Jun 2009 - 94-193-59-79.zone7.bethere.co.uk
In reply to 5cifi:
> (In reply to all) Perhaps a written letter expressing our thanks would be more appropriate than an email. I will have a go at drafting one on the PC.

I was just thinking the same thing. If you have a draft to share and mailing addresses of the folks mentioned here, I would be happy to send a written letter, too.

I will be traveling most of the summer but count me in for any clean up efforts, etc. in the future. I don't know how to build a fence or gate but I can bake brownies, cookies and cupcakes for those who do. :)





prog99 on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to davie.p.:

I've scanned in the article from The Scotsman if its of any interest.

http://www.prog99.com/Stuff/batty.jpg
Mehmet Karatay - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Mike_Watson_99:

Thanks for scanning the article in. It's nice seeing it in print and with the photos.

For easier reading, there is an online version, without photos, here: http://www.scotsman.com/latestnews/Climbers-angered-by-batty-move.5362987.jp

Mehmet
Beryl from Limekilns on 15 Jun 2009 - 87.113.135.30 whois?
In reply to george mc:
> (In reply to iceicebaby)
> [...]
> Careful with the that argument - you then have the Mines and Quarries Act provisions to take into account.

Hi George - No the Mines and Quarries Act is not applicable to Limekilns; I asked Alison Irvine the Fife Access Officer to check this out last year, and she ran it past the Fife Council legal dept. The area hasnt been quarried for so long that the Act is not applicable. The signs that have appeared are the yellow warning type - not the red forbidding type [so you just read them and note, then carry on with what you were doing!]

mwicks1968 - on 03 Jul 2009
Folks - See below for the latest from Beryl (MCofS Regional Access Officer - are you "Beryl form Limeklins" by any chance?), which I'm passing on:

"Yes, there was a meeting between the estate and the access officer of Fife Council last week {w/c 22nd June}. Feedback from this is "positive" but we still have some way to go. I saw the estate factor last night {31st June} and he was optimistic.

I have had feedback from the Access officer but have some further questions but she has been difficult to get hold of [probably sorting out some of the other 60 or so access problems in Fife and perhaps some of the
50 plus objections to the Fife core path problems] I might see Hebe tomorrow {1st July} inbetween meetings - if I dont we'll discuss further, in our last phone conversation on Monday Hebe was impatient for a resolution, but knowing how long other access disputes have taken [Inzievar, Glen dessary etc....where there have been access difficulties ever since I can remember and we are still no closer to a solution].

We hope to have another meeting with the estate soon, which will be opened up a bit. Hebe and I will update the website {MCofS} as soon as we can within the next couple of days, probably on the lines of advising people to continue to adhere to the current MCofS line which has served us well over the last 3 or 4 years: "to continue to exercise your access rights responsibly at the site, keep the footprint low, park considerately in the village and use the local businesses [pubs] etc as itis important to have the community on side".

I went up to the boulders on Saturday {27th June} to investigate alternative access and there were 4 climbers there who were enjoying them selves and being no bother to anyone! So, go climbing there but heed the MCofS advice as we dont want to give the estate any excuse to object to our access. As far as I am concerned, access rights apply [but as always there are associated responsibilities]. The main point is to keep numbers low; one of the guys I was speaking with on Sat had been there earlier in the week and found there were 13 others at the crag and it was unacceptably crowded."

Cheers
MW

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