Hexhamshire Common – before and after

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  • Hexhamshire Common – before and after
  • Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Subscriber

    It used to look like this:
    Then

    Now it looks like this:

    Now

    This is the track from Stobb Cross to the Black hut. The whole length is now like this.
    It’s also been done from Stobb Cross to Sinderhope and from the Green Box to High Struthers.
    I know they needed some mnaintenance but this is completely out of all proportion.
    I imagine before long all the old rights of way will look like this.

    butcher
    Member

    Been a while since I’ve been on that route, but relatively speaking I thought it stood up to conditions quite well. Did it on the road bike once… That’s a shame.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    Is this to provide access to the Range Rovers for shooting? quite common in our area to see tracks like that when the land is maintained by shooting estates.

    joemmo
    Member

    is this not likely to be for shooting access rather than ROW sanitisation? I doubt there’s as much footfall as somewhere like the lakes to justify this being put in place for ramblers. Either than or it’s to reduce the damage caused by motorbikes, there was a nice section in Slaley forest that got rutted out by MXers then gravelled over like above.

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Subscriber

    joemmo likely both of those things. These are public highways though, not there for the landowner to turn into his private business asset. If he wants to build a landrover track he can do it on all the rest of the moor.

    LOLs at the idea that it would be done for the benefit of rights of way in N’umberland.

    Chuckle

    dlr
    Member

    Does seem odd, loads of shooting access roads elsewhere. What have they done with the hideous bog section between Stobb Cross and the hut (to confirm as not sure on which hut…heading SE from Stobb) ? Always got wet feet there

    If they touch the bit from Hangman Hill to Kings Law or Bolts Law area I will get quite irate

    joemmo
    Member

    I blame the gravel biking fraternity. Bloody tyrants.

    dlr
    Member

    I can see 2 benefits to the “trail” being like this. Means the hiding grouse which take off at the last second and scare the sh1t out of you are now further away so slightly less of a shock. Also having size 13 feet with large flat pedals is a nightmare on some of the really narrow rutted bits where they smash down on the side a lot

    Disclaimer – The above re-surfacing was nothing to do with me!

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    That’s a helluva coincidence, I’ve just been up there. To confirm, Burntridge to just beyond Blackstone Cleugh, and Stobbs Cross to the shooting hut is now all land rover track.
    I know it’s a working moor, and the income from shooting dumb birds maintains tradition, employment and also the natural ecosystems, but you do wonder if it’s a bit of a blatant scar on the landscape. It has improved drainage @dlr yes, that bit is now passable, and this will prevent any MX damage. I presume the landowner would at least have to go through the motions on gaining planning permission. It’s a shame they couldn’t do something about the Broadway which is still a rubbly MX-rutfest and unrideable in places.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
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    shooting dumb birds maintains tradition, employment and also the natural ecosystems

    Correction, there is nothing natural about shooting estate ecosystems. It is managed for one purpose only, to maximise income. That is not a natural ecosystem. We hear that argument up here all of the time. It is guff. The figures about income and employment are usually quite questionable as well.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    I don’t know the track but looking at the top image, it looks very much like it started out looking like the bottom one a “few” years ago? I’m guessing the grey ish colour is not natural soil colour?

    These are public highways though, not there for the landowner to turn into his private business asset.

    How does the work make it less public and less passable? Just because its a, “public highway” doesn’t mean the land owner isn’t allowed to use it. In fact if its a public right of way across their private land they’re obliged to maintain it to some extent and ensure access but beyond that can do as they wish.

    joemmo
    Member

    I’m guessing the grey ish colour is not natural soil colour?

    it can be quite gritty and sandstoney but a lot of the ROWs in the area are old lead mining tracks that have been maintained – or not – over the years

    Premier Icon Drac
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    Yeah it’s an estate road with public access so they can do that. It’s not the same as a footpath being turned into pavement.

    Premier Icon jam bo
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    doesn’t look well made. bit of heavy rain and traffic will rip that up fairly quick.

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
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    Drac, In don’t think t’s an estate road at all. I think all these tracks over Hexhamshire Common are old roads, certainly pre-enclosure and probably old lead mining/packhorse tracks.
    This treatment shows no respect to the history of the landscape or the historical value of the right of way.
    People who do this would probably be very happy to pebble dash Durham Cathedral for cash.

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Subscriber

    Interesting leaflet ir-bandito. This kind of work on RoW requires Local Authority consultation and it says that putting a hard surface on a track previously used by vehicles requires planning permission.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    Our local expert, Ted (the guy behind the Sandstone Way) assumes they must have got planning permission. Be interesting to investigate the case history.

    dynastar
    Member

    Was up there mid week on 1 may when they were finishing the works. 5 guys were following trailer filling in pot holes. Asked why the change and was told it was to improve access for the shooting. Joke.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
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    There is a certain irony of them spending a fortune to upgrade the tracks used for access by the shooters, as they arrive in their top of the range off road vehicles which are perfectly suited for rough off road tracks!

    dickydutch
    Member

    Don’t get me started on the “shooters”. |They even have gravel paths put in, from the likes of that road shown in the first post, to their cosy little huts/hides so as not to get mud and grime on their identikit boots and daft trousers they wear when they have to walk the last few metres. Ever noticed that the wooden gates to Bolts Law and some of the ones on Blanchland Moor have been painted too? Not the fence, just the gate. First impressions and all that I guess. Quite what enjoyment they get from shooting birds barely able to fly is beyond me anyway, but each to their own I guess. Oh, and they drive like to55ers too – speeding past my house in a Range Rover parade. And guffaw and strut around the local pub like they own it too. I would LOVE to see the area left to rewild. Fill in all the drains they install, ban the burning of heather and allow it to regenerate to how it is supposed to be and not managed to within an inch of its life for the enjoyment of the self declared elite.
    Rant over, back to bikes.

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Subscriber

    Dickydutch I suggested that on a local Facebook group and got amazing abuse.
    Hexhamshire Common is eerily quiet. Yesterday there were ground nesting birds all over the rough pastures an even a buzzard over Blanchland Common but not a sign of life over Hexhamshire Common.

    Yesterday there were ground nesting birds all over the rough pastures an even a buzzard over Blanchland Common but not a sign of life over Hexhamshire Common.

    Don’t get me going about bastid gamekeepers that persecute birds of prey on grouse moors.
    Arsewipes.

    Waderider
    Member

    Maintaining moors for grouse shooting with currently common practices destroys the eco-system. Inglorious is a polemic but also educational. Our land needs to be reforested. The fact is that Grouse shooting is barely economically viable so the environment cannot be taken into account by managers. This needs to be remembered when the shooting fraternity talk about the rural economy.

    Sorry to see paths getting ruined.

    bajsyckel
    Member

    Drac, In don’t think t’s an estate road at all. I think all these tracks over Hexhamshire Common are old roads, certainly pre-enclosure and probably old lead mining/packhorse tracks.
    This treatment shows no respect to the history of the landscape or the historical value of the right of way.

    Correct.

    Our local expert, Ted (the guy behind the Sandstone Way) assumes they must have got planning permission. Be interesting to investigate the case history.

    There’s no need to assume, you can see some of the details here

    https://publicaccess.northumberland.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=ONZLHFQSG7800

    Scanning through the various documents and correspondences is illuminating (in places at least), but essentially the only objectors were Hexhamshire parish council, with Natural England and the North Pennines AONB initially raising concerns but being brought into line despite reservations. NCC ROW team gave the thumbs up (subject to alternate routes being made available during works – IME this never happened).

    The “Policy statement” of 05 April 2017 is telling – particularly the section on “landscape protection”

    The only close views of the tracks will be experienced by users, including walkers and equestrians. As they are already seen as uniform linear features across the open remote moorland I do not consider the post-development views to be materially different. This is particularly so once the tracks have seeded and greened up. Whilst I accept there are few linear features on the moorland these are historic tracks and an established part of the landscape. In conclusion I do not consider the visual impact of the tracks will be harmful in the landscape.

    The character of the landscape is set out in the LCA and is described in paragraph 4.1 above. Whilst the landscape character is open remote and isolated with an absence of landmarks, roads and horizontal features, mining routes and networks of paths are recognised landscape features. These isolated tracks stretching out across the open moorland are an established feature and surfacing them will not change that character.

    Policy NE15 of the Local Plan and NE1 of the Core Strategy seek to protect and enhance the special qualities of the AONB. As this scheme is using existing tracks with minimal use of local stone to make a durable surface and includes mitigation by way of improvements to drainage and dressing the surface with brash I do not foresee harm to the North Pennines AONB, or conflict with the development plan.

    Objectives 1 & 2 of the AONB Management Plan seek to ensure that land management decisions through the HLS and development management decisions reinforce landscape character. Given remote tracks are part of the existing character of the moorland and this Scheme makes them safe for vehicles with minimum intervention I see no conflict with these objectives.

    It’s desperately sad that someone so evidently talented as the agent of the Estate can craft such utter drivel in defence of this kind of development. But worse that the relevant authorities submit to it without any meaningful interjection. I would though be interested to see quite how closely the results correspond to the permissions granted – particularly the lengths of track surfaced as wheelings:full width track. If only they could replace the singletrack if they were found to have completed the job incorrectly…

    Premier Icon eddie11
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    I think I’m more cross/sad that this was all done above board with permission and that ‘the system’ failed. It’s a remote spot without the national profile or density of use of e.g. Lake District but there are known trail user groups but it looks like they weren’t reached, it is an AONB, the historic and leisure importance of these trails is known, a specific document has been agreed by the council to stop this, the bodies that protect this environment did object but it made no difference.

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Subscriber

    Ted Liddle is on Northumberland LAF and he’s raised it there. I sometimes get to the AONB access forum and will raise it there took.
    But I can’t see this ending up any way other than all the Hexhamshire tracks getting the same treatment.

    dickydutch
    Member

    The land owners get away with a lot and seem to hold quite a chunk of influence over the local authorities. I know of at least one spot that has been used to dump rubble including bricks, blocks and concrete from buildings that were deemed surplus to requirements. I guess you wouldn’t want to pay for appropriate disposal when you have sufficient acreage to “lose” it in would you?

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Subscriber

    ^ That kind of thing is the realm of the Environment Agency. I think they would take a dim view of it.
    I believe the AONB have agreed to look at the work that’s been done and check it against the planning conditions. But as bajsyckel says, you can’t put the single track back again.

    hodgynd
    Member

    Truly saddened by this ..first heard about it a few weeks ago ..
    I’ve been riding that singletrack for over twenty years …things will never be the same …

    Premier Icon Sandwich
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    That kind of thing ^^ is definitely in EA territory. Some pictures and a well crafted email should get them on the case. They tend to have deeper pockets than the landowner too plus some quite draconian legislation to back them up.

    Premier Icon burko73
    Subscriber

    I guess if you’re managing the land (for whatever) you need access by vehicle thesedays and although a lovely eroded old cart track is great for us bikers on our full suspension missiles it’s a pain for whoever has to drive it to look at their sheep, birds, shooting butt or to rescue someone off the hill or put out a moorland fire.

    Eroded tracks will continue to erode if left to their own devices and become an issue if you need access or they are rights of way. You eventually end up with a gulley nobody can use then a new track alongside it from repeated use.

    Prob not popular with folk on here but it’s life in the countryside I guess. If it wasn’t for the original use of the track (mining) or continued use by the landowner since (for whatever reason, if you agree with it or not) then it might not even be there to ride at all.

    It looks like the straight down the hill run might even be reclaimed if the drainage has been sorted leaving one route down instead of two. That’s probably a bonus to most people’s view of this issue.

    Ps – I haven’t looked at the details of the plans or whatever so don’t shoot me down on details. Just widening the view I guess.

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