UK Crag Access Notes - Blue Scar and The Ormes

As summer is in full swing in the UK, access arrangements at certain crags are in flux:

The Good: The BMC recently reported significant access gains on the limestone area of The Ormes, Llandudno, North Wales. In his report on the BMC Website, Elfyn Jones stated:

"We have now managed to get some significant areas made available again for climbing. This will include the upper part of Mayfair wall, hopefully creating sport routes that will be up to 40 metres long, extending an extra 15 metres to classic routes such as Contusion, Mayfair and Axle Attack. The major gains however are around the corner on the mainly trad area between Sheik yer Money and Chaingang wall, where six brilliant routes are based, including eighties test-pieces such as Hom's Punk, Ward 10 and The Jihad. Further on, the area beyond Black Walls has also been de-restricted, and here another 10 routes, including some more amenable traditional E1's and mid-grade sports routes will be re-equipped."

Careful, 231 kb
Chris Carroll climbing above the road at the Ormes © chriscarroll

Dave Musgrove on Blue Scar, 101 kb
Dave Musgrove on Blue Scar
© nigel baker, Jul 2009

The Bad: Blue Scar in Yorkshire is one of the finest limestone trad crags of the county (and therefore the world!), however climbing access there has now changed.

In a thread on the UKC forums, Dave Musgrove explained the situation:

"The bird nesting restrictions at Blue Scar will be lifted from this weekend but the landowner has insisted on new access arrangements being in place from the start of the season this year.

From now on permission will only be given to those who apply in writing in advance. The landowner has issued the following statement:

... 'With effect from the 1st July 2011 permissive access arrangements have changed and access is only with written permission obtained in advance. Proof of current BMC membership will be required. Application forms from'....

The owner has agreed that once obtained, permission will last for a season.
Parking and other details will be included on an information sheet available with the application form.

The landowner states that his permission was always conditional on BMC membership (for insurance / liability reasons) but from now on proof of membership will be required. The new arrangements come about because of the problems caused last year by congestion around the farm by parked vehicles. New parking arrangements will be detailed in the information leaflet."

Later in the thread Patrick Walker, the land owner concerned, came on to the thread to explain his descision:

"Although I note the concerns expressed above, most of the feedback we have received suggests that substantially increased used of the Scar has upset the delicate balance between farmers earning a living from the land and climbers enjoying the Scar. As as result:

1. the landowners have reviewed the risks. I do not claim to be a 'prominent lawyer' but I do know where to obtain advice. In circumstances where the risk to the landowner is increasing and yet receives no benefit or even indemnity, there is strong case for closing access completely.

2. Other landowners who could give access to the Scar have declined access and so far as we are aware, we are the only ones who have given permission and attempted to accommodate climbers.

3. Notwithstanding the increased risks, we have always been sympathetic to climbers and took the view that we would continue to permit access provided individual climbers are insured through BMC and provided a suitable indemnity and other information to help us manage access onto the site.

4. We have now done that. At no time have we asked for any remuneration for ourselves. We did suggest the provision of alternative access arrangements including off-road parking in return for a payment of £1500pa by BMC to a local charity, but the BMC considers the proposal unacceptable. We think this is pity and the sum requested is modest having regard to BMC's multi-million pound revenue and the facility which could have been provided.

5. We considered it would be unfortunate if absence of agreement with the BMC resulted in total closure of access and have therefore made new arrangements which are now in place and will be reviewed at the end of the season.

We look forward to welcoming climbers who have applied for and obtained a permit."

This change in access to Blue Scar comes not long after the access issues of another Yorkshire climbing venue - Foredale Quarry.

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