/ Newly Prohibited Access in the Radnor Forest

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AllanMac 23 Oct 2018

This serves as a warning to those wanting to walk in the Radnor Forest area. The firing range in Harley Dingle have greatly extended their 'Danger Area' well beyond the confines of the valley itself. This area now overlaps a large swathe of open access land, still shaded as such even on updated 2018 OS mapping. Neighbouring Davy Morgan's Dingle to the West, The Southern approaches to Great Rhos (the highest point in the Radnor Forest at 660 metres), and all access to Great Creigiau to the East at 646 metres are now effectively prohibited to walkers. 

A notice board in Davy Morgan's Dingle states: "Access to this site is strictly prohibited at all times under Regulation 30 (2) (iii) of Explosive Regulations 2014". 

Walkers using older maps are unlikely to be aware of these changes, especially when the mist is down and the sporadically-sited red flags and notices would not always be visible.

 

Post edited at 13:51
Mike Peacock 23 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

Any idea when this happened? I did a round of Harley Dingle a few years back, and finished with a descent S off Great Rhos. It was a lovely route, and such a shame that the dingle itself is out of bounds.

In reply to AllanMac:

Thanks for that Allan. Sounds a pain

mysterion 23 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

The 1:25000 map on streetmap seems to show a danger area expanded from how I remember it a few years ago

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=317925&Y=261975&A=Y&Z=115

Is that the current position?

Post edited at 14:54
AllanMac 23 Oct 2018
In reply to Mike Peacock:

Hi Mike. I've found out recently that Radnor Community Council have been discussing this issue in their meetings since Feb 2016. The notice(s) prohibiting access were erected March 2018. The Welsh Government approved the closures, but not exactly sure when.

I agree. These are beautiful gentle hills, and Harley Dingle itself is arguably the most beautiful of all the valleys. It's a shame that the firing range (a private company) has been allowed to ruin it for others. In my opinion it illustrates the fragility of open access as a whole, if restrictions can be imposed with impunity like this. What precedent does it set for other areas I wonder?

AllanMac 23 Oct 2018
In reply to mysterion:

Yes the Western part of the danger area on your map link is up to date, but it seems to be missing beyond easting line 20. The danger area East of there follows the course of the bridleway above Ystol Bach Brook, the NW side of The Whimble, and the forest edge E of Mynydd yr Eithin - all on open access land.

jonny taylor 23 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

> What precedent does it set for other areas I wonder?

well there's also this...

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/14/cumbria-villagers-oppose-army-bid-to-grab-common-land

Matt Podd 23 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

Thats a bag of Poo! I still have these hills to visit on my slow journey to visit all Wales 2000ft hills. Time for some guerilla walking - or is there a real risk of being shot? This kind of denial of access to the countryside should not be allowed.

Bulls Crack 23 Oct 2018
In reply to Matt Podd:

Something similar happened a few years ago at Shooters Nab near Meltham  when the local shooting club decided to extend their safety zone on the advice of police marksmen who sometimes used it for their high velocity rifles- although following their iital advice you'd have had to shut the A635

 

I'd check with Natural Resources Wales although their current restrictions map looks to be unavailable crow.relevantauthoritywales@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk 

Moley 23 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

Around 15 years ago a company bought the site and wanted to open it as a shooting range (this is from memory, so don't take my recall as 100%) the application went into our firearm licensing department for approval. I wasn't personally involved but it dragged on for years, the company (individual) went bust whilst waiting to open his business and it all moved on. I believe the rules on ranges changed and it was bought by someone else, I don't think as a public range at the time, possibly testing of explosive? Don't know for sure.

One of the legal sticking points was that back in the past it was used for explosives testing and there was still potential unexploded ordnance out there, without the whole area being cleared it could never be passed as "safe" under H&S.

This may or may not have a bearing on what has happened, I have no idea or news for years, but there is a lot of history there and nothing would surprise me!

Guy Hurst 23 Oct 2018
In reply to jonny taylor:

What the article doesn't mention is that the MoD promised when it originally bought out the farmers' grazing rights that the area would remain common land in perpetuity. Obviously a very trustworthy lot.

captain paranoia 23 Oct 2018
In reply to Guy Hurst:

The residents of Tyneham have a similar story to recall...

Mike Peacock 24 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

The more I think on this the stranger it seems. I presume all weapons testing is in the bottom of the dingle itself. There must be some odds of ordnance/shrapnel/whatever flying around a bit, hence the old danger zone extending up slope to the top of the dingle. So what's changed that means there needs to be a danger area along the S flank of Great Rhos? That would suggest a real risk of danger coming out of the valley and over the flank itself. Same for the extension onto Great Creigiau.

AllanMac 24 Oct 2018

You are right, it seems odd. Especially given that the breadth of the exclusion zone is now so extensive, yet the bridleway going uphill from Lower Harley to the old quarry actually runs inside Harley Dingle itself. Why would this bridleway be deemed as safe, but the new exclusion area not? There is no clarity as far as I can find as to what the danger actually is, whether it is unexploded ordnance or line of fire within public access areas. Maybe there is also an element of secrecy/confidentiality, preventing people having direct views into the valley?

As Moley above has pointed out, activities in the valley have moved from being a relatively innocent shooting range towards something a lot more serious. That is supported by recent reports from New Radnor residents of "very loud explosions" "black smoke" and "toxic fumes" coming from the  direction of Harley Dingle, which may also support your suggestion that the area of danger might go well beyond the confines of the valley itself, and over hill flanks.  

 

Ralph Goddard 24 Oct 2018
In reply to AllanMac:

I wrote to New Radnor Community Council asking if they had raised any objections to the arrogant act by Radnor Ranges. They hadn't ! The reckoned public safety was paramount. There was no public debate and no consultation with interested parties. Sounds like they either couldn't be bothered or had a vested interest or both.  Anyone who is familiar with this wonderful area of upland will know that using safety as an excuse is complete nonsense as the right of way via Lower Harley, heading NW out of the valley, passes closer than the track they have closed off, as does the upper valley to the north below Shepherd's Well. 

To suddenly prevent access directly from the south onto Great Rhos and Great Creigiau, another 2000' top is a scandal and unchallenged sets a precedent.

By the way, I have walked the 'closed' route a number of times since the Danger Boundary change. If they want to chase after me they are welcome!


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