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Cheddar Gorge Access - Confusing

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 steve_gibbs 18 Nov 2020

Does anyone else find the Cheddar Gorge (south side) access arrangements utterly confusing?

I understand that access hangs by a thread, so pretty much only climb the south side in winter, but the BMC Cheddar Access Map makes no sense to me..

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/rad/view.aspx?id=930

Friends and I similarly find Martin Crocker's Cheddar guidebook rather unclear and then there's the whole 'WW' feature on select crags on UKC..

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/cheddar_gorge_south-240

Is there any way to make it all a bit clearer or simpler, as I hear countless people are breaking the rules simply out of confusion, sadly risking access?

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In reply to steve_gibbs:

You're not the only one. I'm not claiming I could do a better job of explaining it but someone really needs to. 

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 ianstevens 18 Nov 2020
In reply to steve_gibbs:

Just phone up cheddar caves and ask if you can do a route, they won’t mind

(this is a joke in reference to a thread earlier this year, don’t actually do this)

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 steve_gibbs 18 Nov 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

Haha! Yeah, I can just visualise them having a good old chin-wag with the lady selling candy floss and ice cream and her telling them to make the most of a lovely summer's day and jump on it! 

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In reply to steve_gibbs:

This has been discussed MANY times before...

I did suggest the best part of a decade ago at a BMC SW Area meeting (which was actually held in Cheddar) that clear signage was posted around the Gorge at the crags or access points, which is changed over from OPEN to BANNED depending on the season.

In a great example of democracy in action it was very clearly not supported by enough other BMC members, hence many years down the line, the situation is still a complete mess.

I no longer live in the SW but you're more than welcome to see if you can convince enough BMC members in the Area to come to a different conclusion this time around... 

Post edited at 06:17
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 fammer 07:36 Thu
In reply to steve_gibbs:

I've found the addition of the (WW) marks on routes and crags on the crag page here quite comprehensive as a guide, and a user on here spent quite a long time organising the crag page and sorting that out. For the south side as I understand it:

Everything is out July/August, Easter, Bank Holidays (would have to look up all the specific occasions but that's roughly correct)*.

Everything else ok outside of these times, except 'unrestored routes'. This is where the confusion comes in, but these are all the ones marked as WW on the crag page. 

The unrestored (WW) routes are in from start of October to end of March.

*There are some exceptions to this, off the top of my head Ginsberg Wall, Yew Tree Wall and Horseshoe Bend; these are all open during the closed period on weekdays after 6pm. This is a provisional arrangement that came in last year.

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 Steve Claw 08:33 Thu
In reply to steve_gibbs:

I think the rules are straightforward once you get your head around it.

You have to look at them from the point of view of the routes / walls you want to climb, (not the season) and each ones category is clearly shown in the guide at the top of the page for that area.

All Year Access - is exactly what it says

WW Winter only - is winter only from 1st October to 15th March

Summer Season - This is the one that requires you to read the small print.  Access is allowed all year round, but not July, August or the Bank Holiday weekends in May and Easter.  The small print / map will tell you the exceptions to this that are also allowed after 6pm during those Summer holidays.

It is a lot of rules to be aware of, but these are the conditions of the access agreement so we all need to get on top of it. 

Lots of people I talk to there assume that "Summer Season" means all year round, or that the rules are based on "North or South sides", which it is not.  The rules are individual to each route / wall as described in the guide, and you need to check the latest years map for exceptions.  The complications are where the rules have been relaxed during certain times, which we shouldn't be complaining about. 

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 nniff 09:14 Thu
In reply to Steve Claw:

I've always thought that it was the 'Summer Season' nomenclature that made it tricky.  If you change that to 'Not Summer or Easter' it makes a lot more sense.  You have 'Winter Only, 'All Year Round' and 'Not Summer or Easter'.  There are a few additions like the spring bank hols, but that's not too hard

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 beardy mike 10:12 Thu
In reply to steve_gibbs:

Surly it would be a reasonably simple thing to code for the boffins at UKC to add an extra attribute to the logbook entries to denote an open season for each route in the gorge which would then refer to a database and demark whether a route was currently open, and publish the open dates clearly so that users could quickly reference it? Just a thought... might be useful in other areas where there are bans of various types - the main area at Avon would be a case in point where there are peregrine nesting bans each year and which change depending on where the birds have installed themselves for that year... I mean I know it depends on climbers actually looking at the logbooks but there are substantial numbers who do that...

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 elliptic 10:54 Thu
In reply to nniff:

I'd agree the "summer season" category has always been unnecessarily confusing. I usually think of it as "off peak" myself.

In the new guidance pdf with the map the difference between "restored" and "unrestored" should be better explained and then you get to :-

Unrestored routes (including Coronation Street) only accessible 1 Oct-5 Mar inclusive except: [long list of buttresses] (except for existing winter routes on [two of those buttresses])

That first "except" takes me several goes to understand properly and the second one makes my head explode ( and I'm speaking as a Cheddar local here).

Post edited at 11:00
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 David Coley 10:56 Thu
In reply to beardy mike:

Sounds excellent. 

Just needs a sign(s) in gorge: Please check the following Web address to see if your route is open before uncoilling your ropes

With the site just saying open or closed, and if closed, first date open, if open first date closed (for those project ing) 

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In reply to beardy mike:

I think this is an interesting idea but with the caveat that this would not be simple to do! Even ignoring back end code, just the process of designing and implementing the user interface is non-trivial. The UKC logbooks are a great resource and well designed but I think this is due to a lot of hard work, not that it is easy!

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 beardy mike 11:22 Thu
In reply to Angrypenguin:

Well OK, but they ARE boffins - they should see it as an opportunity to prove how good they are Yeah I'm sure you're right that it's not that simple to do, but there is certainly a need - they already have various different attributes which are assigned, if they had a lookup table of dates which would be maintained by BMC access reps, surely it couldn't be cray cray difficult? They already have the "banned" code in place, they just need to link that to something which looks up the timed bans on that crag... There are so many areas with access restrictions it would be a really useful feature not just for cheddar...

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 GrahamD 16:02 Thu
In reply to beardy mike:

> Surly it would be a reasonably simple thing to code for the boffins at UKC to add an extra attribute to the logbook entries ...

Only for anyone using RockFax for their route information.

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 beardy mike 17:06 Thu
In reply to GrahamD:

Absolutely - but as David says, a notice at the base of the buttress directing someone to the website, maybe with a QR scan website address would be a way to solve that. I mean hell, even a notice stating the open days on the access routes would be helpful...

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In reply to beardy mike:

As far as I'm aware there was signage placed at the bottom or near most of the affected areas with a map and information on which buttresses are banned and when. This definitely helped me decide where I should and shouldn't climb. 

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 beardy mike 19:37 Thu
In reply to dinodinosaur:

I can’t remember 100% but I don’t remember that being the case on crags like horse shoe bend. Yeah OK, shoot gully etc, but on the most accessible crags I don’t remember having ever seen a polite sign saying piss off. And those are often the crags you see people climbing out of season on...

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 David Coley 12:07 Fri
In reply to Angrypenguin:

If someone has a list of the routes, and understands the rules exactly, I'm happy to work with them to place the list into excel, code in the rules/dates for each and every route and output to pdf, and host on my website. Not quite so good, but would allow anyone to dates check route-by-route.

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In reply to David Coley:

I am a local and think it's all very confusing particularly when it comes to things like half term bans (I don't have kids and anyway schools break up at different times).

I think the BMC access map is not easy to understand.

I believe that there should be signs at the base of each crag, just saying that you can climb here from xx to xx and you can't climb here from xx to xx. 

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