Access to Llandulas Cave threatened!

 Jon Ratcliffe 06 Feb 2021

Due to a recent purchase (this has now been confirmed) of the local 'Castle' and surrounding woods access is now threatened both for climbers and local walkers.

The plan is to stop access and fence the area off. 

Needless to say some of the best N. Wales limestone rites and passage are located here and have been enjoyed for many years by locals and visitors alike, a super handy venue when the weather craps out, just a quick stop off the A55. 

Please sign the petition!

Post edited at 11:58
 jezb1 06 Feb 2021
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:


 Short&Savage 06 Feb 2021
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

Signed.  Have you tried posting on the north wales sports climbing facebook page?

In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

Thanks, signed and shared.

”I’m a celebrity, the rest of you get out of here.”

Post edited at 14:24
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

The BMC is aware of this development and of the changes to the land ownership at this location. We are in active discussion with both the Community Council, Natural Resources Wales and the local authority to look at options. The land ownership boundaries, and the issues, are as always, a bit more complex than first appear and much of the land is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, where some of the protected features have been damaged by recreational activities in the recent past. There is also quite a history of unsociable behaviour (including raves, fires, tree cutting, substantial littering, etc) at this site

Some of the personal and insulting comments, from climbers aimed at the new landowner that have appeared on social media are not helpful to negotiating any access agreement and I'd ask people to be careful in what they post without knowing the full facts and details.


Elfyn Jones

BMC Access & Conservation Officer (Wales)

 rockcat 06 Feb 2021
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

Llanddulas Cave is an important climbing area which has been climbed on for 30 years. It now has over 80 routes and some of the most testing in North Wales. Please support this petition.

In reply to Elfyn Jones BMC Cymru/Wales:

Fair enough, it would be a real shame if access for quiet enjoyment were lost. Climbers are often good custodians, for example removing litter at other venues I know well.

 SAF 06 Feb 2021
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

Have you contacted Conwy county council, they were heavily involved in pushing forward "i'm a celebrity" and making sure planning etc went through without a hitch despite the ongoing pandemic.  There are some very keen outdoor enthusiast on the cabinet, so worth emailing them and getting them onside, especially if you live in Conwy.  My friend is on the cabinet so I will mention it to her and what an important place it is in case it comes up in discusion at any of their meetings. 

 DDDD 06 Feb 2021
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

Isn't there some common law that says that if there has been continued access for 20 or more years that it is considered to be a public right of way.

 rockcat 07 Feb 2021
In reply to steveriley:

And there has been much involvement by climbers removing litter at Llanddulas Caves in the past. A couple of years ago, 26 bin bags of garbage was removed from the upper cave and various other detritus.

 Snyggapa 07 Feb 2021
In reply to DDDD:

That kind of works as long as the use has been without permission. If the previous landowners granted permission then no right if way can be gained, as permission can be simply revoked and the 20 year clock starts from that point.

I don't know the situation here or if any other laws come into play, but if the BMC previously negotiated access it will be hard to argue that it wasn't previously done with permission.

 DDDD 07 Feb 2021
In reply to Snyggapa:

Interesting bit about the permission. However, I wasn't only thinking about climbers as the whole area is and has been used by locals for decades including accessing the cave and other bits of cliff.

 Mihangel 07 Feb 2021
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

I’ve spoken to a local resident who believes the posters are a hoax and has heard from the Gwrych Castle Trust that they have no intention to purchase the land. They also state the local councillor is looking into this, as the locals were obviously quite concerned. All a bit vague but Hopefully we’ll hear something more substantial soon. 

 Jon Ratcliffe 07 Feb 2021
In reply to Mihangel:

Elfyn's (BMC Cymru) statement above seems to indicate it's not a hoax but you're the second person I've heard mention it so I guess we'll have to wait and see. 

Post edited at 23:51
 Wainers44 08 Feb 2021
In reply to DDDD:

> Isn't there some common law that says that if there has been continued access for 20 or more years that it is considered to be a public right of way.

And the nonsense from the landowner at Vixen Tor showed how easy it is to step around that pun intended. 

In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:

As mentioned in my original reply on this topic, the BMC are looking into the issues here. Until we've established some facts and made contact with all the interested parties (including the landowners and leaseholders), its best not to over speculate.  The main parcel of land where the climbing is on appears to have been sold very recently. The remainder of the woodland is managed by but not owned by Nartual Resources Wales. Gwrych Castle Trust also have an interest in some of the land here.  The land above the climbing venues is mapped as as open access land but unfortunately not the area where cliffs are. There are no registered public rights of way on the definitive map that would allow access to the climbing areas. 

In theory, under the Highways Act,  a claim could be pursued for presumed dedication of a public right of way, if it could be conclusively proven, at a public inquiry that the public had uninterrupted use of that specific line that had been passed and repassed by members of the public, without objection by a landowner for a period of no less than 21 years. That is actually a lot harder to prove definitively than it might at first appear, and it would only apply to the exact line of the claimed right of way, and would not allow for any access away from that line, I.e . it would not give access to the cliffs or for climbing. The procedures required and process to follow to prove this,  even for a simple undisputed right of way claim can take several years in my experience. 

In reply to DDDD:

You can potentially claim a path that way but it wouldn't cover climbing

 rockcat 21 Feb 2021
 kevin stephens 21 Feb 2021
In reply to rockcat:

I wonder what they have in mind for “ORGANISED rock climbing activities “? 

Post edited at 20:35
In reply to Elfyn Jones BMC Cymru/Wales:

> In theory, under the Highways Act,  a claim could be pursued for presumed dedication of a public right of way..

Rather than claiming a Public Right of Way, which Elfyn correctly points out would not protect the climbing, it might be possible to register the land as a "village green" under the Commons Act, on the basis that it has been used for recreational purposes for at least 20 years.  However this would have to be "as of right" rather than with permission, and just as with PRoWs can be difficult to prove. As discussions are already taking place it would probably be provocative and counter-productive to start such a claim, although it might be advisable to avoid conceding that climbing was with permission, if there is any question about this.

The proposals for the castle appear to be more nuanced that than the OP suggested.  The restoration of a piece of heritage should surely be welcomed, and far from keeping everyone out they appear to want to open the land up for access and recreation, but in a managed way.  Of course the climbing community tends to resist being managed.  Let us hope that Elfyn and his colleagues can bridge the apparent gap between the estate's vision and climbers' attitudes.


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