We were turfed off Bollihope Quarry, Weardale, Co. Durham today by the police. It is Crow open access land and I was under the impression you can climb. The feedback from the Police was that although the owner didn’t object to the climbing he didn’t like The bolts The developer had placed on his land.
I would love to know how we stand on this.
Probably something to bring up with the BMC access rep, not sure who it is over that way. I know UKC member 'RD' has been developing the area so it might be worth speaking to him as well.
As for being turfed off by the police, are they allowed to do that on Open Access land if you aren't doing anything illegal..
Hopefully it get sorted out, was hoping to pop over one evening soon!
I'm fairly certain climbing is allowed under the CRoW Act. To be turned away by the police seems ludicrous just because of the style of protection. Would they be happier if you'd been soloing? Should have just said you were mates of Dominic Cummings and they'd have left you alone.
Deja vu comes to mind!
Should have just said you were mates of Dominic Cummings and they'd have left you alone.
Damn missed a trick there.
I have contacted the BMC and RD. It is Crow land and we were fully within our rights to be there. The Police said we were trespassing, (they were unaware of the Crow legislation.)The police have been talking with the BMc access officer and hopefully this will all be resolved. I will contact the police again to make sure we are all singing from the same song sheet.
> I'm fairly certain climbing is allowed under the CRoW Act.
Unfortunately, technically it's not.
The Act is very tightly drafted and climbing is never specified as a permitted activity, although equally it is not one of the many activities specifically excluded.
That means that it falls into a grey area with the assumption having been made (but never having been tested in Court) that as it is not excluded it is therefore permitted.
There's numerous conceivable problems with that assumption as any number of things ancillary to the actual climbing could be grounds for landowners legitimately objecting to your presence. As mentioned in this case, placing bolts without the landowners permission is clearly not legal so it is debatable whether the CRoW Act gives any justification for using such illegal fixtures. It is also arguable that using chalk and any brushing, cleaning or gardening of routes could invalidate your access under the Act.
Professional climbing instruction is clearly not permitted under the Act, although this is rarely enforced. The National Trust in Cheddar Gorge being an obvious exception.
The CRoW Act was an ill-conceived, limited and overly bureaucratic mess. However, in many situations we have ended up with slightly more liberal access than it strictly permits.
Things are pretty delicate at Bollihope at the moment - the sheer number of people headed their for picnics and leaving rubbish, and the number of dogs on the loose then chasing sheep etc. Whilst not related to climbing I can see why the landowner(s) would be pretty stressed right now. There’s been some serious grumbling going on locally.
Something to keep in mind; and probably why the police are paying attention at busy times.
The Gov.co.uk website says climbing is allowed on Crow access land. It does not specify what type of protection one uses be that trad gear or bolts. It also doesn't say chalk cannot be used.
We were actually moved on for trespassing!
The CROW act specifically mentions climbing.
The exact wording is "Any person is entitled by virtue of this subsection to enter and remain on any access land for the purposes of open-air recreation,"
> The Gov.co.uk website says climbing is allowed on Crow access land. It does not specify what type of protection one uses be that trad gear or bolts. It also doesn't say chalk cannot be used.
I guess using existing bolts is fine. Placing them was probably not allowed.
Yes, thanks for confirming this in my mind. As usual, some landowners appear to be using the poor behaviour of antisocial elements to push their 'get off my land' tendencies.
> I guess using existing bolts is fine. Placing them was probably not allowed.
Its a bit of a grey area. Typical ambiguous legislation.
There is a right to climb at Bollihope under crow, so the venue is not banned. There is of course no right to place bolts there and to do so without the land owner's permission could put yourself in a bit of a prickly position.
The police have been in contact, partially in error, in the belief that climbers shouldn't have been there. Hopefully this shouldn't be a problem in the future, but do let us know if it is. One of the biggest obstacles to managing relationships with access is finding out who the landowner is - hopefully we'll now be able to do this, as they have complained to the police.
Please do everything you can to maintain good relationships in the area. Be friendly, smiley, give people in 4x4s/ quads a wave, take litter home, no fires, shouting etc. A couple of years ago no one climbed around stanhope, now it's rammed. Locals felt uneasy about this already, even before covid.
Franco Cookson (access volunteer Durham)
Thanks for that Franco. I did contact Rob Dyer at the BMC and the police contacted him for information. The police seemed to be unaware of the Crow act and despite being shown it on the phone they still asked us to leave. Bizarre! It was all in good humour though.
I have written to Stanhope Police saying we had the right to be there and were committing no offence. They claimed that we were trespassing.They took our details and I have asked them to remove these from the system.
I do hope this gets sorted.
Its a strange thing that we can climb but not place bolts. It seems to me that that go’s with the territory.
Climbing is actually mentioned in the Crow act as being allowed.
> Its a strange thing that we can climb but not place bolts. It seems to me that that go’s with the territory.
Eh ? You'll have to explain that one to me.
You can "bird watch" but you can't (as far as I am aware) build a big f o bird watching hide.
> Eh ? You'll have to explain that one to me.
Well sports routes don't exist without bolts. Are you implying that we cannot have sports routes on open access land. This Crow Act is so ambiguous.
It's not ambiguous at all. You can climb there but you cannot alter the landowners property without permission.
If there are bolts there you can use them.
If there aren't bolts there you can only place them with permission.
See. Not difficult...
> Well sports routes don't exist without bolts
True, but you said climbing, not sports climbing
>Are you implying that we cannot have sports routes on open access land.
No. But permission to access land is not the same as permission to alter it.
>This Crow Act is so ambiguous.
You have been proper twirled by the police here. Who clearly had absolutely no idea what they were talking about but winged it anyway and got what they wanted. At the least I would say they owe you an apology having interfered with your liberty and human rights with no grounds to do so. If you were on the top of Helvellyn and a PCSO jumped out from behind a cairn and told you to clear off what would you have said. Seems that is what has happened here.. I cannot comprehend how any constable would think this was any of their business.
> Well sports routes don't exist without bolts. Are you implying that we cannot have sports routes on open access land. This Crow Act is so ambiguous.
Climbing is allowed, drilling into rock without permission is not. It can't be any simpler really
Trespass is a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence so I've no idea why the police thought it was their business to get involved at all
I think you are getting a bit mixed up about what CRoW is all about. It gives you access to the land, not ownership of it.
I'm pretty sure that if the owner decided that he wanted a crag on his property to be returned to its natural state , he could remove any bolts he wanted and leave them at the base of the crag for the owner to collect. If someone vandalises or defaces your property, you don't normally get prosecuted for rectifying the damage.
And keeping up a campaign where you seem to think it's OK to treat someone else's property as your own is going to do nothing but inflame the situation.
No mate I am just trying to work out the best interpretation of the rules. I did not place the bolts and would not without seeking permission.
What we should be discussing is the best way we can maintain access to this crag.
The bottom line is we were evicted unlawfully.
> The CROW act specifically mentions climbing.
That is absolutely NOT the case. I've just searched the entire 170 pages of it to confirm that I had remembered correctly. The only thing mentioned is "open air recreation" which is NOT clearly defined either in the Act as amended or by case law.
The link was not quoting the Act, it was giving non-statutory Government guidance which is merely what civil servants currently believe that the Act permits - not that any of us want to argue with that interpretation.
As I mentioned previously the CRoW Act is a complete and utter mess. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 is more ambitious and very sensibly implemented provision for statutory guidance under the Access Code which makes things far clearer.
> Climbing is actually mentioned in the Crow act as being allowed.
Stating it doesn't make it true.
You're more than welcome to prove me wrong by quoting exactly which Chapter, Schedule and Sub-Section of the Act where it appears, but until then I stand by my previous statement, as I expanded apon above.
If I recall correctly Mark, the act does specify a few things that are not allowed, but not what is. (Other than as you say Open Air Recreation.... ) And while the guidance does state climbing is allowed, other seemingly valid recreations/activities are not. It is indeed one big fudge.
But, I doubt any landowner would ever seek to contest the guidance....
> It is indeed one big fudge.
Yes. That about sums it up.
Hopefully the Welsh Parliament will do a better job if/when they enact new access legislation in Wales.
Had a phone call today from the police. We did have the right to climb at Bollihope and they were wrong to evict us. They apologised. The incident will be recorded but no names will be kept.
Placing bolts should be with the owners permission.
That's very interesting. Did the police actually say that bolting shouldn't have been done? When I was first there (2017) - before the recent equipping - there was only one line of bolts up the tallest buttress and no sign of anything else. Do you know if the landowner intends to take any action?
> That's very interesting. Did the police actually say that bolting shouldn't have been done? When I was first there (2017) - before the recent equipping - there was only one line of bolts up the tallest buttress and no sign of anything else. Do you know if the landowner intends to take any action?
He said since we didn't place the bolts then we were within the law. Do not know what the landowner intends to do, but the BMC is negotiating with him.
Molly Thompson-Smith has become the first British woman to onsight 8b with an ascent of Odysseus at Götterwandl in Tyrol, Austria.