/ Voluntary ban at Plantation - opinions please?

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TN - on 19 Feb 2006


Some of you might have heard me and Muz have been trying fix some of the water damage to the area around the more popular boulders at the plantation. We *may* have mentioned it once or twice... ;-)

We had a chat with a nice chap this afternoon (didn't get your name - sorry) and got onto the subject of 'regrassing' the treated areas. When I sounded people out a while ago they almost all supported a voluntary ban while the areas were reseeded and the grass/vegetation got reestablished.

Now, we are aiming to get the final area built back up in the next few weeks then will speak to the warden about him getting some top 'soil' and appropriate seed for us.

I am asking - do people support a '1 area at a time' voluntary ban for 8-12 weeks to see how the new vegetation 'takes' - probably starting at the Green Boulder like we did with the filling in.

Please let us know what you think - whether you think this amount of time is excessive or not enough, whether you think this is a good idea? Muz isn't convinced anything will get established there, but we reckon it's worth at least an experimental attempt...

Also, what do people think to the work that's been done so far. I think the Green Boulder area has settled really well, personally - I am pretty impressed!


Dr.Strangeglove on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:
think you might need longer than 12 weeks, but would be a good experiment. also interesting to see how rapidly any re-growth degrades.
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Give it a shot: there is a lifetime of grit bouldering out there so one boulder closed for a small time for such a good reason won't hurt anyone.
Monk - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Why not trial an area that isn't at the base of a boulder first or perhaps a less "classic" boulder? That way you can see if it will work before closing a boulder off and avoid any bitching if we have a ban and nothing grows.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN: Good idea...I would supports it.
Offwidth - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to Monk:

Because its a logical progression from the work already done there and will test the growth on that work. Something will grow, the question is will it stay? The fact that its a classic boulder helps the BMC's access case: shows they can mobilise climbers for enviromental improvements just like the Ring Ouzel bans on the Popular End.
Chris the Tall - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:
Hi trudi - how are the boulders lookng now ? Not been up there since November and the last carrying session (and the way things are looking it might be another month before I get chance). Any photos that can be posted ?

As for re-planting, yep go for the green boulder (think it's the least popular of the 3 we've done - well I've never bothered with it) and see whether people accept the voluntary ban. If it works well there people might be prepared to accept a similar ban on the other two in the autumn
SI A on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

id support it.
TN - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall:


We reckon Green looks really good, pretty natural.
Pebble isn't quite as good looking yet, but when we put some of that really fine stuff on I think it'll look good too.
There's a fair bit of stuff already up near Business but we need to work out how best to approach that (Julian and the estate warden have had an idea but J need's get the time to do it) - as well as getting the rest of the gravel up there. We've been up today and taken a bit more up and refilled all the bags, so if people keep taking them up as and when it shouldn't take too long.
No more photos - there's not much more to see since you were last up there really - we've been slacking a bit...

Will keep people posted.

Alison Stockwell - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

It's a good idea. Will you put a rope around the area and some signs? I thought that worked very well with the nesting birds last year.
Adam Long - on 19 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

I've been in support of this from the start - first mention I remember at least a couple of years back. A few points to consider:

I doubt grass is unlikely to ever grow much under the Green Traverse. Its heavily shaded in summer by the beech tree (beech forests rarely support grass cover, plus it gets too much concentrated trampling. I can remember a little more grass than now, but not much.

I reckon the best time for a ban would be late spring through to september. Once the weather warms up and the midges and bracken come out the numbers of boulderers drop off massively. Happily this also the peak growing season. I think you could, for example, shut The Pebble from May to September without causing too many problems. The Deliverance landing was well grassed up too seven or eight years ago so it would be nice to recreate that.

There are also a couple of spots that aren't badly eroded but have lost grass and topsoil over the last few years of the bouldering boom. These shouldn't be too hard to regrass, below Not to be Taken Away is the obvious spot.

anonymous1 - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Is this offical BMC policy then - to volunteer bans at crags under the guise of the new un published erosion policy. Very weird ?

The last thing we need to get into the heads of the peak nat. park wardens is that climbers are quite happy to volunteer bans for themselves in busy areas , for whatever reason.

They may do a hyper leap and then assume that banning areras due to errosion is totally acceptable to climbers. I mean look at the erosion under the majority of crags in the peak.

phatlad on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to anonymous1:
yes I mean the voluntary bird bans have never been well received - SARCASM intended!!!!!!!!!11
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to anonymous1:

This is an experimental and voluntary exercise - the whole process has been very well documented and publicised and it's being done with the consultation of the climbing community, the BMC access team and the national park people.
We're not trying to 'slip in' any bans under the guise of anything else - it's purely so that the climbers can make some attempt to redress the balance.

If you have any specific questions, please ask them here or email me rather than being vague and anonymous. I don't know if you think we're 'up to something sinister' but we're not...
sutty on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

I ignored ANOther as just an agent provocateur, he is the noisy minority.
anonymous1 - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Well its the first time i've heard/read of it !!!!

I never suggested YOU were trying to slip in any bans, no climber would be that daft.

I just don't trust the peak park authorities and where vol. bans could lead to.

We already have vol. bird bans, however the RSPB are so more powerful than the BMC that we have to comply with their wishes or big brother would just put a blanket ban on whatever the RSPB felt justified with.

And yes i am paranoid and cynical and yes the concept of what you are doing makes sense from an environmental point of view .

Anyhow , these are the Monday morning ramblings of an old man . Keep up the good work , but keep one eye open when dealing with authorities and vol. bans.Because what becomes the exception soon becomes the norm.
Bella - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to anonymous1: The RSPB are not necessarily more "powerful" than the BMC. But National Parks are required to be managed under the Sandford Principle - where there is a conflict between conservation and recreation, then conservation takes precedence (the summarised version).
Bobt - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Hope I'm not teaching anyone to 'suck eggs' but if you are planting grass remember a few points:

1, make sure the soil is at the correct pH and that P & K levels are correct (Phosphorous especially)

2, make sure you plant a suitable species that will take heavy trampling (Golf courses and playing fields will use these). You might find shade loving species for the areas where tree cover is a problem.

3, Grass seed is very fine so you need a fine and COMPACT seedbed, best to roll it with a heavy garden roller.

4, Soil moisture (lack of it) is the main reason for failure so a rolling programme of re-seeding will disadvantage the areas sown in mid summer.

4, pest damage can be a problem ( eg leather jackets)

5, don't sow too late in the year where frost damage to seedlings is likely to take place.

6, have you considered using a turf system which would allow the grass to be established elsewhere (I realise cost might be an issue).
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Bobt:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your comments.
One of the things Muz came up with yesterday was your point number 6 - the turf idea. We think this is a really good idea but as you stated, suspect cost might be a big issue. We'll have to discuss this with the people with the purses...
Most of these other issues have been discussed and taken into consideration. The grass seed the warden uses is an approved blend that he's used in other areas of the peak and all the materials we've used are local, so they shouldn't be so different to the natural stuff in place there. That's the theory, anyway.

Would you mind if I emailed you at some point to discuss this further - you sound like you have some experience of all this and I'd like to exploit this completely! ;-)

Bobt - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Yes, no problem.
sutty on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Bobt:

Oh, and I think Trudi wants you to bring your big heavy roller to the spot thay needs doing.;-)
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to sutty:

Hur hur hur - that'd be fun to see.
I have all on carrying one bag of grit up - suggesting someone takes a roller up there - well, that's just mean!!

In reply to Bobt:

Thanks - will perhaps mail you this evening!
Doug on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN: there is a lot of expertise in restoring damaged areas, much of it comming out of the 20 odd years of footpath work which the BMC should be aware of, see eg the BTCV. Much of Bobt comments aren't really relevent in an upland setting (although the principals behind them are). There is a lot of experience of using turf cut from nearby areas (so using local plants) to restore damaged areas - the biggest problem is keeping the turfs well watered until the root system has become well established.
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Doug:

Well watered? Peak district? Shouldn't be an issue... ;-)

But seriously, thanks - there's lots to consider but luckily we have lots of great resources available. We're just 'facilitating', to use management b/s...
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Doug:

We are trying very much not to do this - we're not experienced in this at all, so everything we do is coming from other peoples knowledge and ideas.
I need to look into this further but at the moment we're just sounding people out about things - ideas, thoughts about a voluntary ban etc.
Chris the Tall - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Adam L:
> I reckon the best time for a ban would be late spring through to september. Once the weather warms up and the midges and bracken come out the numbers of boulderers drop off massively. Happily this also the peak growing season. I think you could, for example, shut The Pebble from May to September without causing too many problems.

Have to disagree with you there - hardcore boulderers may shun the plantation during the summer, but suspect it's just as popular with the more casual types, people like me who just play around and don't get all paranoid when the temperature creeps above 5C. I suspect it would also be a very popular sunbathing/picnic spot if it weren't for all the bouldering activity
Bobt - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Doug:

I agree that regenerating upland areas will have a slightly different set of criteria but would contend that this isn't actually what is being tried here. I don't think that the use of 'local plants' will be successful as these will not, by their nature, be capable of withstanding heavy traffic. Surely the main aim of this project is to stop errosion and to do it as quickly as possible to avoid disruption to local climbers.
Chris the Tall - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:
Turfing would be the quickest way to re-establish grass. The way to do it would be to grow the turf elsewhere in the plantation area (well away from boulders etc) and then transplant it. That way you might only need to close off the re-turfed boulder for 4-6 weeks.

Finding a suitable place for growing the turf might be tricky - you'd probably need to clear some bracken.....
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall:
> you'd probably need to clear some bracken.....

That sounds like a job for 'machete Chris'... ;-)
Julian's going to speak to Bill about this first - he might already have somewhere suitable for 'harvesting'.
To coin a phrase, I'll be back...

Yorkspud on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

Timing of the ban will probably be critical. Restricting access in Summer obviously gets the grass growing but Winter is a vulnerable time for vegetation damage to the plants themselves and through increased erosional activity. Combine this with higher contemporary use rates in Winter and you may find two restriction periods may be an answer: one to restrict damage in Winter and another to encourage growth in Spring/Early Summer.
Gary Smith - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:
> (In reply to Doug)
> .....we're not experienced in this at all, so everything we do is coming from other peoples knowledge and ideas.

Seems like a great idea but I think Dougs comments are spot on. Use the knowledge of experienced people even if it means handing over you idea completely for others to do. A lot of ill judged work has been done in the name of enthusiasm. That is not meant in any way as a critism but previous enthusiasts repairs of 'chipping damage' and erosion on rock has led to some awful results.
Bestg of luck
Muz on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Chris the Tall: As said earlier I need to chat to the warden, but I was thinking we could use sections from some of the gully things that are cut to improve drainage elsewhere.

As far as bans go,I don't envisage any ropes or signs, just a post on here and ukbouldering and maybe signs in a few relevent places (edge, Outside, foundry etc) asking that the area is avoided or treated with care.
Oli - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Muz: I think a sign by the boulder would be useful, as many visiting climbers (ie; not regular peakites) will not know about the ban. A small sign should not be that intrusive.

May be up there tomorrow and will take a bag up. Where is it going now? The Business boulder?
TN - on 20 Feb 2006
In reply to Oli:

Thanks Oli.

Me and Muz disagree on use of signs - I prefer to use some fairly inobtrusive signage, but he quite dislikes the idea. We'll have to come to some kind of compromise - how about a notice in the carpark, just by the start of the path? Of course this wouldn't help if people approached from the top...

Yes, we're piling it just below the business boulder - you'll see the pile. If you could just leave the bags there, we'll be up at the weekend to do a bit more...
Bobt - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

I've done a bit of digging (excuse the pun)and can come up with the following comments:

I contacted SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage)to see if they had done any work up here. They should get back to me sometime soon but I suspect that any work will be on replacing natural species.

I contacted our grassland specialist who informed me of work carried out in the Cairngorms 20 yrs ago to repair erosion on the ski slopes. This was apparently successful but I would need a library to find the relevant literature. I may be able to get it if you need. I don't think it is on the web.

It appears that the most appropriate species in an upland situation which will withstand heavy traffic might be Smooth stalked meadowgrass although there may be newer species available now.

There has apparently been alot of work carried out in this area by the 'Sports turf research institute' and they can be contacted at
You may need to subscribe before they give you any info. but I may be able to get access through our specialist (No promises).

There is clearly a level of traffic beyond which no grasses will survive and you need to assess whether this level is likely to be breached otherwise you are wasting your time (and money). Moreover, you could be creating a potentially dangerous president by opting for a voluntary ban to carry out work which subsequently is unsuccessful. The nightmare scenario is that the park authorities then extend the ban.

You should also consider the ethics of introducing a non-native species to a National Park upland environment if that is what is required. It may be that a more invasive bit of engineering is required to prevent further erosion and that grass is not the answer. What will be the lesser of the two evils? Hopefully the above info will help to make that decision.

Doug on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to Bobt: not only non native, also not naturally occuring in that environment - much of the work on Cairngorm (look for papers by Neil Bayfield) has been critised as they used fast growing species which would not occur at that altitude in conjunction with fertilisers, 20 years later the un natural patches are still evident. From my experience the sports turf people deal mostly with golf courses, cricket pitches etc & don't have much experience in upland areas (but I have not dealt with them for a few years so maybe they have changed)- the footpath teams, along with eg BTCV, NTS etc have much more experience which is relevent to Stanage.

Although you could argue that in areas such as Coirre Cas (& Stanage ?) which are so disturbed anyway that doesn't matter much whats done although if the natural grassland community (which I guess would be some mix of Agrostis, Festuca & Nardus) can't withstand the trampling spreading gravel (made from gritstone) would probably be the best option.
TN - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to Bobt and Doug:

Wow - so much info - thanks guys. I'll print the full thread out and read it in one go at lunchtime - make more sense of everything.
I think I said earlier, the warden has an approved (I can't remember by whom) blend of seed that he has used in other areas of the park as necessary which is fairly robust and also native to the area. The only problem I forsee with that is the length of time it is going to take to get established, which is why I like the 'turf' idea.
Anyway, Julian's speaking to the ranger today and then to our access 'mentor' at the BMC.
We should be able to tell everyone more soon...
Bobt - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to Doug:

Doug, I agree, I think there are three main questions to ask.

1, Is the level of activity so great that no grass species will withstand it and therefore should alternative solutions be found? This must be the primary consideration!

2, If grass is considered an appropriate solution, what species will work and are these appropriate in an upland situation? (I would still contend that the mixture used by the park warden will eventually fail because it wont be capable of withstanding the trampling pressure.)

3, If there is a suitable species found which will suit all camps, what is the most appropriate method of establishment to ensure success and to reduce the length of any voluntary ban?
Yorkspud on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to Bobt:

One thing worth noting - The Planatation is within the Peak Eastern Moors SSSI and introducing 'other' species would need to be ok'd with English Nature should any work really.
TN - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to Yorkspud:

This is all being done with the relevant consultation - in fact, I think it's EN who have approved the seed mix that's likely to be used. Any turf would be cut from the surrounding area anyway.

Mark N on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to TN: I certainly support the idea... i haven't read the whole thread so this might have been mentioned - you will need to fence off temporarily the boulders to prevent people who don't read the forum on UKC or BMC publications climbing on the freshly laid grass. I would like to think that pretty much everyone will abide by such a closure on each rock.

i would have thought 12 weeks was enough for grass to take hold but i'm no plant expert!
Simon - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:

If any turf or seeds to be put down - I think that we would need to put some sort of BMC sign up there for a couple of reasons

It would inform people of what we are doing and why (not everyone comes on here or goes to the walls)

It will make it clear which area not to climb on and avoid any confusion?!

I know signs are intrusive etc - but I reck in this case necessary to help enforce a voluntary ban.

(sorry I can't help lugging btw- but I have a good excuse!! :0)

alpinebisou - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:
I'm for it. I think there could even be an argument for doing it all in one go (after experimentation on a small area). This would encourage people to go and climb in areas where they might not usually go. They might keep returning to those areas and spread the long term impacts a bit more evenly - or they might all go to burbage!
TN - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to Simon:

The whole point of it being voluntary is that it's NOT enforced, silly!
I'm with you on this anyway - I think a couple of inobtrusive but informative signs is a good idea (people will know why we're doing it and will therefore be more likely to join in) but as a whole, the BMC doesn't really go for signs and cordons. I will have to discuss this with Julian and Henry....

As for your excuse - some people will do anything to avoid a bit of hard work... <sigh> ;-) Hope you're feeling better really. Are you going back because you can't face more daytime TV, or are you mended?

Simon - on 21 Feb 2006
In reply to TN:
> (In reply to Simon)
> The whole point of it being voluntary is that it's NOT enforced, silly!

so does that mean I can't sit there with a stick with a nail through it waving it boulderers shouting "ged aaawf my boulder hippies!!"



DAVETHOMAS90 - on 25 Feb 2006
General opinion:

I think it's important that climbers recognise the level of impact on their chosen environment. To agree to closure of certain areas, perhaps on rotation, could be considered a way of expressing just how precious we feel some of the more popular gritstone venues are; an investment in the future for sure. I think it's important that as a group, we can be seen to take a lead in the management of land use in the Peak Park, and earn our place at the negotiating table.

I will read through all the above posts, and contact the BMC, but what is the best way to monitor progress/development/future plans?

Dave T.
Simon - on 25 Feb 2006
In reply to DAVETHOMAS90:

glad to have you on board!!


simes303 - on 25 Feb 2006
Hello folks. I totally support the idea of a voluntary ban as you suggest, and I think the same would be true of most, if not all of my climbing friends. Good stuff guys. Si.
Mark Collins - on 27 Feb 2006
In reply to TN: Yes, brilliant idea take longer if you like I don't like crowded crags much anyway.
Davros the Psyched - on 02 Mar 2006
Excellent idea. I think you should seek advice on exactly how long will be needed and be firm about sticking to that time: if it'll take 20 weeks for the damage to be repaired then so be it. May as well get the job done properly.

Good stuff, keep it up.

Jon Greengrass on 02 Mar 2006
In reply to TN: i wouldn't bother replanting the grass, it'll never last and its only cosmetic
tommargin - on 08 Mar 2006
In reply to TN:
I think signs are really going to be essential, loads of people that boulder at the plantation may not read the forums or climb at The Edge etc.

Apart from different species of grass are there any other plants that could take the punishment beneath the boulders? (i realise i'm not an expert on this!!)
Tobias at Home - on 08 Mar 2006
In reply to TN: sounds like a nice idea but what i am confused about is that seeing as there are increasing numbers of boulderers at honeypots like the plantation, what makes you think that once the restrictions are lifted then the grass will not all get killed immediately?

for example, (although not regrassed) the remergence area needs re-pebbling reasonably frequently.
amf37 on 08 Mar 2006
In reply to TN:
I'm really not sure about this at all. As a community we need to consider very carefully the trade off between the possible unintended, negative consequences of accepting a restriction in access and the likelihood of long term success of any attempt at re-seeding. Is setting the precedent of closing access at one of the most popular bouldering spots in the UK a price we're willing to pay for an experiment which I believe has little chance of success? Given the hammering these areas take I can't imagine that any new grass will survive when access resumes, although I would very much like to be proved wrong. The erosion needs to be repaired and drainage improved to prevent a bad situation becoming worse, but maybe a grit chippings or similar should form the top covering, both being longer lasting and without the access problems.
Simon - on 08 Mar 2006
In reply to amf37:
> (In reply to TN)

>The erosion needs to be repaired and drainage improved >to prevent a bad situation becoming worse, but maybe a >grit chippings or similar should form the top covering, >both being longer lasting and without the access problems.

Take a visit to the Plantation and you will see the good work that TN, Muz and many a volunteer have already done since October.

The green traverse boulder & The pebble have all been treated with grit aggreagate at their bases and are much better for it (with drainage ditch cut neath the boulder).

The Business boulder has some aggregate down but still more to finish the job with drainage still to do.

It HAS been an experimental exercise - but it was made clear from the start that it would be a bit of trial and error, none of us knowing what exactly would be the outcome.

All we can keep doing is carting the aggregate up the hill and filling in the erosion beneath the boulders. Well done again to TN & Muz who have organised this in a superlative fashion.

Grassing the area's & the voluntary ban on the boulders will again be experimental - it may work - it may not - but its great to see that people are passionate about the lanscape in which they climb and we are breaking new ground here... please be supportive - as you never know!!


Simon Jacques
BMC Peak Bouldering Access Rep
TN - on 13 Mar 2006
In reply to Simon:

Brief update:
Preliminary drainage work completed at Business on Friday morning and some levelling out done. Opinions welcome.
Discussed regrassing and use of local turf. Sourced areas we can 'harvest' the turf from and the warden will be contacting EN to advise what we're planning on doing.

We will be needing MANY volunteers some time soon to help dig up and move the turfs, and to lay them out in the appropriate areas.
More nearer the time...

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