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NEWS: Edinburgh's Radical Road and Salisbury Crags - Permanent Ban Considered

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https://theferret.scot/edinburgh-footpath-facing-permanent-closure/

> An internal report by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), obtained by The Ferret, reveals that the leading option for Radical Road around Arthur’s Seat is to “permanently prohibit all access”. The route has been fenced off for more than three and a half years because of the risk of rock falls.

> The prospect has alarmed walkers, climbers and geologists, who warned that permanent closure would create “a terrible precedent”, putting public health and tourism at risk. They accused HES of failing to consult or to listen, and of assuming it “knows best”.

> HES said it was still consulting experts and partners on “the most appropriate option” for Radical Road. It did not rule out permanent closure, insisting that “the health and safety of our visitors and staff must always be paramount”.

It seems there are several options on the table but the full closure of the whole area seems to be the cheapest and easiest option for HES

 kwoods 20 Apr 2022
In reply to Garethza:

First thing I think of, is under the same guise they'll be fencing off Dumby. How can you prevent access on 'safety'?

Mass trespass needed.

2
 subtle 20 Apr 2022
In reply to Garethza:

It is rather poor that it has been closed for 3.5 years, in that time how many of Edinburgh's fine old buildings suffered from masonry collapse?

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/heritage-and-retro/heritage/watch-video-shows-loose-stone-across-edinburghs-rooftops-stonemasons-renew-call-preserve-citys-skyline-3113578?amp

Lets hope pressure put on HES to get Radical Road opened up again

In reply to subtle:

> Lets hope pressure put on HES to get Radical Road opened up again

Free Radical Road!

I’ll get my lab coat…

 decvalts 21 Apr 2022
In reply to Garethza:

The current high green fence already looks fairly "permanent" unfortunately, replacing the temporary barriers that were there last year. HES is totally the wrong body to be managing the park/crags and fencing off swathes of it with no way to challenge them. Protest would be welcome...

Post edited at 14:39
In reply to decvalts:

I think the challenge posed here is that it is a park, not just a random crag in a field.  The H&S expectations are therefore higher - you wouldn't expect for stuff to be able to fall on your head in Hyde Park, for example.

This is a bit annoying to climbers, but I think that is one that people will need to accept.  I don't think any of the possible outcomes will allow climbing to continue there.

25
In reply to Neil Williams:

> This is a bit annoying to climbers, but I think that is one that people will need to accept.  I don't think any of the possible outcomes will allow climbing to continue there.

Is it not just a matter of reverting to the traditional clandestine climbing on Salisbury Crags?

 decvalts 21 Apr 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

It's not a random crag in a field, no, but then it isn't exactly a Hyde Park style of manicured park either...

In reply to Robert Durran:

> Is it not just a matter of reverting to the traditional clandestine climbing on Salisbury Crags?

One of the options involves putting netting over it - would have a job climbing then!

In reply to decvalts:

> It's not a random crag in a field, no, but then it isn't exactly a Hyde Park style of manicured park either...

No, but even so I think people expect to walk round it in safety, unlike say if they went to the nearby Pentlands.

5
 tlouth7 21 Apr 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

On the face of it I think you are right, but there are plenty of other hazards that they clearly accept, and which collectively result in several emergency responses per year:

- unfenced top edge of the crags

- highly polished, slippery summit of Arthur's seat

- steep, unmade paths throughout the park

So they must have some appetite for risk beyond what you might see in typical urban parks.

 tlouth7 21 Apr 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

They are talking about pretty serious fencing off of the crag - all the way round the bottom and along the South end of the top to prevent easy downclimbing. You could ab in but that is a more serious undertaking.

 daWalt 21 Apr 2022
In reply to Garethza:

HES, historic environment scotland, - used to be Historic Scotland: more commonly know as Hysterical Scotland.

it seems to be unique to them, I'm not aware or any other comparable outfit (NTS, Nature Scot, or whateverthey'recallednow) getting so bent out of shape over a piece of the natural landscape.

In reply to daWalt:

It would be interesting to know if they have had a proper risk assessment by a qualified person; death due to rockfall or landslide, in the UK, is relatively rare, around 1 every two years.  Similar sites I have been involved with have been managed with a four bar fence and warning notices backed up with a risk assessment.

In reply to Neil Williams:

> This is a bit annoying to climbers, but I think that is one that people will need to accept.  I don't think any of the possible outcomes will allow climbing to continue there.

It's not primarily about climbing, the climbing area is tiny, not that great and not the part where there was a rockfall.  It's about a kilometre long scenic path which is a great option for walking or running.

There's hundreds of tons of cars passing on the road every minute with people within a metre of them and nobody raises a sweat.  But a few tons of rock fell across a path a few years ago and they are sh*tting themselves. Yes, there is non zero risk but the risk is f*cking tiny compared with other risks we face in life. People have a 50% chance of getting cancer and 1/15 of us currently have Covid. A one in a million chance of getting hit by a rock is next to irrelevant. They should knock down anything which is obviously about to fall then stick up an 'at your own risk' sign and forget about it.

The fence doesn't even solve it.  If there was any kind of substantial rockfall on most of the crags where the path is fairly close to the rock face some of the rock would go straight over the path and all they way down to the grassy area at the bottom.  They're not fencing that off.

It's jobsworth laziness and cowardice. The council should take over the park if the queen/historic scotland can't keep important paths open.

Post edited at 19:20
 Fat Bumbly2 21 Apr 2022
In reply to daWalt:

Was at Orchardton Tower, Kirkudbrightshire recently. The building is under the care of HES and caught up in their blanket "climate change" closure.  Ugly Heras surrounds it and best of all, the spiteful little ******s have fenced off the car park too.  Cannot have folk looking from afar either.

A thoroughly nasty petty little organisation.

In reply to Garethza:

We've asked HES to respond to a number of questions about the proposal. Nothing back yet, but we'll add their comments to this news piece as and when they come in: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/2022/04/edinburghs_radical_road_and_salisbury_crags_-_permanent_ban_considered-73038

 Martin W 22 Apr 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> I think the challenge posed here is that it is a park, not just a random crag in a field.  The H&S expectations are therefore higher - you wouldn't expect for stuff to be able to fall on your head in Hyde Park, for example.

Hardly a valid comparison, since Hyde Park is basically flat whereas Holyrood Park is an extinct volcano.

> This is a bit annoying to climbers, but I think that is one that people will need to accept.  I don't think any of the possible outcomes will allow climbing to continue there.

The South Quarry is set back a good distance from the Radical Road and AFAIK has never been subject to serious rockfall, except perhaps at its left-hand end - basically the Double Decker/Western Buttress area - where people don't tend to climb anyway (I doubt having that area fenced off would be regarded as a major loss TBH).  The recorded routes in the South Quarry itself go up to 15m, so not particularly high, or likely to suffer from the sort of unpredictable rockfall from above that apparently is perceived as being a major risk along the Radical Road.   Until it was fenced off South Quarry was a pleasant location for a bit of gentle or  indeed not-so-gentle bouldering on a summer afternoon/evening and IMHO the actual risk of rockfall to climbers using it for that purpose was minimal to nugatory, and would likely continue as such.

 ExiledScot 22 Apr 2022
In reply to HighChilternRidge:

If councils went the zero risk approach, an awful lot of beaches and footpaths above cliffs would need to close. Rockfall risk is likely an excuse for another motive.

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

You're  right with the main point- closure is nuts. However there are actually banks at the bottom to catch rocks before they get to the grass. Been there decades.

In reply to ExiledScot:

There are local authorities that are more enlightened, Bristol City Council for example.

 decvalts 22 Apr 2022
In reply to HighChilternRidge:

It isn't managed by Edinburgh Council though, it's run by Historic Environment Scotland, who are part of the problem. There's plenty of other council-managed parks in Edinburgh with crags used for climbing or bouldering and the council seem fine with them.

 Martin W 23 Apr 2022
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> If there was any kind of substantial rockfall on most of the crags where the path is fairly close to the rock face some of the rock would go straight over the path and all they way down to the grassy area at the bottom.  They're not fencing that off.

The HES map in the article linked in the OP shows a proposed fence running along the foot of the slope, more or less alongside the stretch of the Queens Drive directly below the main part of Salisbury Crag.

(It also seems to show a special complex of fencing surrounding the South Quarry, which frankly seems verging on being deliberately vindictive against climbers - with whom HES have consistently maintained a prickly relationship in recent years - since, per my argument above, that particular area is probably the lowest risk part of all of the ground adjacent to the Radical Road.)

In reply to MG:

> You're  right with the main point- closure is nuts. However there are actually banks at the bottom to catch rocks before they get to the grass. Been there decades.

AFAIK the thing that looks like a bank has a pipe under it. It also has a path along the top that I walk on every day. I wouldn't bet on it stopping boulders that had rolled all the way down the slope from the Radical Road, by the time they got to the bottom they've have a lot of momentum. 

In reply to Martin W:

> > If there was any kind of substantial rockfall on most of the crags where the path is fairly close to the rock face some of the rock would go straight over the path and all they way down to the grassy area at the bottom.  They're not fencing that off.

> The HES map in the article linked in the OP shows a proposed fence running along the foot of the slope, more or less alongside the stretch of the Queens Drive directly below the main part of Salisbury Crag.

IMHO it's ridiculous to think about fencing off the whole of Radical road with some gigantic fence.

Their whole report is a piece of piss with a ton of bullsh*t and hardly any data about the actual historic rockfalls or estimated risk of future rockfall.  It's not quantified. The only data of interest is they had a 50 ton rockfall in 2018 which was close to people but nobody was hurt.  

I'm in the park every day and I see ambulances out every couple of weeks for folk who have had a heart attack or slipped on Arthur's Seat and cyclists and motorcyclists that have had an accident.  I've personally walked past after a fatal accident on the road in the last couple of years. Compared with the road the Radical Road is negligible risk.  Probably also compared with the slippery rock at the top of Arthur's Seat and people going off piste from the summit and getting into scrambling territory.  There's a few 'legal' side paths which I'd describe as dodgy due to crumbling rock near big drops.

> (It also seems to show a special complex of fencing surrounding the South Quarry, which frankly seems verging on being deliberately vindictive against climbers - with whom HES have consistently maintained a prickly relationship in recent years - since, per my argument above, that particular area is probably the lowest risk part of all of the ground adjacent to the Radical Road.)

The climbing area is set well back from the path, there's no risk to people just walking past.

Basically these guys are sh*tting themselves in case somebody gets squished and they get sued despite the risk being objectively small compared with other risks in the park and daily life. If they don't have the b*lls to manage a park with cliffs in it and the natural risks that brings they should hand it over to the council.

OR they could just turn all the crags over to climbers and let us pull the loose bits off for them

Post edited at 03:34
 Martin W 23 Apr 2022
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> IMHO it's ridiculous to think about fencing off the whole of Radical road with some gigantic fence.

I think we're in agreement on that.

> If they don't have the b*lls to manage a park with cliffs in it and the natural risks that brings they should hand it over to the council.

I don't think that HES can hand over the park itself as they don't own it, they are just responsible for its management.  Interestingly - and contrary to what is frequently asserted - Wikipedia says: "Holyrood Park is one of Scotland's Properties in Care, owned by Scottish Ministers and managed on their behalf by Historic Environment Scotland."  A general belief seems to be that it's the property of the monarch.  If that's not the case, and both ownership and management lie with the Scottish Government, then that would suggest that the scope for using democratic processes - protest. lobbying etc - is greater than is perhaps generally believed.  Basically, if the power behind HES is ScoGov then it should be possible to exert pressure on the responsible ministers directly, rather than pussy-footing around in fear of a monarchy which, despite its nominal "constitutional" status, seems to be able to do pretty much what it likes when it comes to issues that affect it directly.

(This Edinburgh Evening News article by Andy Wightman: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/andy-wightman-who-owns-palace-holyroodhouse-1444814 confirms that Holyrood Park was handed over to ScoGov in 1999, and also sheds some light on the kind of shenanigans that the crown seems to get away with.  In that regard, see also this article: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/07/revealed-queen-lobbied-for-change-in-law-to-hide-her-private-wealth regarding the use of the little-known "queen's consent" parliamentary procedure.)

 CameronDuff14 23 Apr 2022

As far as I can see there's no public consultation on it either. Seems they know full well the collosal bollocking the public would be bound to give out. Definitely one to try and reach out to counsellors etc. on and put some pressure on 

 Dr Toph 23 Apr 2022
In reply to Martin W:

Any idea if the transfer to government (essentially public) ownership effects the exemption to the Land Rights Act right to roam? Was under the long mis-assumption that the park had a get-out clause by being queenie's private garden...

In reply to Martin W:

> (This Edinburgh Evening News article by Andy Wightman: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/andy-wightman-who-owns-palace-holyroodhouse-1444814 confirms that Holyrood Park was handed over to ScoGov in 1999, and also sheds some light on the kind of shenanigans that the crown seems to get away with. 

The most shocking thing in that is they are only making £3.3 million a year in visitor entry + 1m from gift shop and taking another £1.5m from the Scottish Government. You'd need to be seriously incompetent to be handed a visitor attraction the size of Holyrood Palace and the surrounding grounds plus presumably the Queen's Gallery + its cafe and only make £4.3 million a year top line. Before the pandemic tourism in Edinburgh was doing £1.3 billion in sales a year, Holyrood Palace should be the second largest attraction after the castle.

The Royals are actually really sh*t at running tourist businesses. They want to keep everything like it was a private house, keep a chunk of it empty 50 weeks a year, appoint lazy toffs to run it and do f*ck all advertising.

Post edited at 19:38
2
 Martin W 24 Apr 2022
In reply to Dr Toph:

> Any idea if the transfer to government (essentially public) ownership effects the exemption to the Land Rights Act right to roam? Was under the long mis-assumption that the park had a get-out clause by being queenie's private garden...

I don't think the transfer of ownership makes any difference.  The byelaws that cover Holyrood Park are linked from the article in The Ferret that Garethza posted in his OP.  They take the form of the thoroughly riveting Holyrood Park Regulations 1971*, a government statutory instrument.  The only amendments I can find to that on legislation.gov.uk are from 2001 and 2005, and both involve updates/clarifications of the regulations around motor vehicle access to and parking within the park - nothing about access for recreational activities like walking or climbing.

Of course the 1971 regulations would have been made by the UK government at the time.  There could be a debate/argument to be had that ScoGov, as the owner of the park since 1999, and inheritor of the regulations from Westminster, could usefully (a) review the park regulations in the light of ScoGov's own Land Reform Acts (2003 and 2016), and (b) get involved in constructive way in the current stooshie with HES.

I would hope that one or more of the bodies currently up in arms about HES' proposed vandalism** should be aware of the situation regarding the park regulations and looking to use that as a lever to get [more] active engagement in the issue from ScoGov, rather than trying to pursue a rational conversation with a body which seems not to understand the nuances of public access to open spaces, nor to have any inclination proactively to engage with the representative bodies of park users (whether those park users are aware of said bodies or not).

* You can read it in all its glory here: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/media/5577/holyrood-park-regulations-1971.pdf

** I can't really think of any other word to describe the idea of building a mile-long steel security fence in what must be close to being a uniquely 'rugged' inner-city park.  But hey, at least it's not within the UNESCO World Heritage Site boundary https://ewh.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/EWH-Site-Boundary-Map.png (though that doesn't stop Edinburgh World Heritage from including Arthur's Seat on its "green map": https://ewh.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/EWH-Green-Map.jpg) so that's OK then...

 francois 26 Apr 2022

The south quarry plan in particular is most definitely aimed at climbers and as it is  a pretty stable are, that plan is not evidence driven. Does anyone know if there an access officer we can contact? ( not sure if it's SMC or MCOFS we need for that). It would be a massive shame to lose access to this venue. 

Post edited at 14:12
 oldbloke 26 Apr 2022
In reply to CameronDuff14:

I think it would be Angus Robertson MSP.  Cabinet Secretary for culture would have HES in the portfolio most likely.

In reply to francois:

Access has already been lost a while ago when they erected the new fence I believe. But yes it would be permanently lost in the future with the current plans.

Just a side note as well - I was climbing in the south quarry one evening alone a year or two ago and came upon a person who had fallen off the top of the crags. If I wasn't there the person would have likely died as they were in quite a state - so losing access to the bottom of the crags also means if someone were to fall down.. it's unlikely anyone would come across them and would make getting help a lot more complicated.

*Edit - Just to clarify, the person wasn't a climber

Post edited at 15:37
 redjerry 26 Apr 2022
In reply to Garethza:

Makes me sad to see such an attractive feature of Edinburgh blighted by that big, ugly fence. Not to mention the loss of the recreational resource.

Don't know the extent to which this is true in this case, but in the US when these sort of decisions are being made there seems to be a really comprehensive ignorance and underestimation of the value of open spaces and recreation.

I would suggest that, in the case of Salisbury crags, that value is extremely high and far outweighs the costs (in the broad sense) associated with rockfall danger.

 Rick Graham 07 May 2022
In reply to redjerry:

I agree.

Has the idea of a disclaimer/ acceptance of risks of the natural environment / competent user pass been considered?

 Martin W 07 May 2022
In reply to Rick Graham:

It says in the article: "Options in a new report also include reopening the path at users' own risk".  So basically: back to how it used to be.  Cost: approximately zero - apart from the cost of removing the bl00dy 'orrible fence, and maybe a few notices advising of the small risk of rockfall.

The idea of having to sign a disclaimer to go for a walk is only marginally less bad than the idea of a steel and glass balcony on the top of the crags IMO.

I think the Ramblers Scotland guy quoted in the article has it right:

"As a society we normally let people assess, manage and accept the risks involved with outdoor activity, as these are usually hugely outweighed by the benefits," he said.

"While we recognise HES has a duty of care to people on the route, we are concerned that it seems to be treating Salisbury Crags - a natural geological feature - like it would a crumbling historic building."

I do wonder whether HES would be anything like as aerated about the place if Walter Scott hadn't had the bright idea of getting a made path built below the crags as a job creation scheme for unemployed radical weavers, and instead we'd been left today with just the foot-worn route that he and pals used to enjoy.

(According to an 1880s periodical Old and New Edinburgh by one James Grant, at around the same time that the Radical Road was being made: "...the papers of this time teem with bitter complaints against the Earl of Haddington who, as a Keeper of the Royal Park, as an abuse of his prerogative, was quarrying away the craigs, and selling the stone to pave the streets of London."  https://www.oldandnewedinburgh.co.uk/volume4/page131.html  Apparently the Earls of Haddington had been up to this game since the mid-1700s, but it was in the early part of the 19th century, when they started using explosives to increase the rate of extraction, that people really started to sit up and take notice.  So there seems to be past history of those responsible for the management of the park messing about with the place for all the wrong reasons.)

In reply to feelej25:

> latest article from the BBC on the radical road https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-61321634

They're taking the p*ss with the idea of a skywalk or ugly concrete avalanche shelters. They are strawmen so when they shut the path they can say the other options weren't practical.

Their only actual data on rockfall risk is than in 2018, 50 tonnes of rock fell not far from some tourists none of whom were hurt.

So let's say there was a period for maybe 20 seconds over maybe 50 metres of a 1km long path where if you were standing about (and didn't get any warning before the full thing came down and manage to get out the way) then you might have got squished.

Four years is 126,144,000 seconds out of which there were 20 seconds where you'd be at risk, and then only on 1/20 of the total length of the park.  So if we assume a fifty ton rockfall every 4 years the risk of getting squished each time you decide to walk along the path is about 126 million to 1. I'm up for that.

1
 Fat Bumbly2 08 May 2022
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Do Hysteric Scotland "look after" the Commando Monument.   It's behind the Heras now - a very bad look.


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