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Author Topic: Victory Walk on the moors above Stalybridge  (Read 2789 times)

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Victory Walk on the moors above Stalybridge
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2015, 01:02:31 PM »
On Sunday, Ramblers, the body which fights to protect access to public footpaths and Open Access land for enjoyment by future generations offered a great deal more than a circular walk exploring footpaths and moorland above Stalybridge:  it celebrated a walk along a path which was illegally obstructed for part of 2014 but which is about to become part of the country’s network of public footpaths as a direct consequence of the intervention of the Ramblers.

In January 2014 reports began to come in of obstruction of a path crossing Open Access Land at Gallows Clough, not far from the road cutting at Roe Cross, the summit of the road linking Stalybridge and Hollingworth, and the intimidation of ramblers, dog walkers and fell runners. Moorland to which the public has a legal right of access had been ploughed, entry points were locked or covered in barbed wire and the route was illegally blocked.

At some time in the future the landowner/tenant could apply for Open Access status to be revoked arguing that the area is no longer uncultivated moorland: that is a matter to be resolved in the future but Ramblers thought it to be in the interests of users to ensure that the very popular route from Hobson Moor Road via Gallows Clough to a public footpath just east of Mottram Rise was an public footpath which is currently unrecorded and needed to be designated as a public footpath.

Responsibility for ensuring that Open Access Land and public rights of way are accessible lies in the hands of Tameside MBC and the local authority ensured that obstructions were cleared but one thing that the local authority cannot do is wave a magic wand creating a public right of way if the landowner does not agree to the creation of a public footpath.

All walkers were accessing this land quite legitimately because it already has a legal status of Open Access Land. Ramblers then embarked upon the long legal process of legitimisation of a public footpath along a line which has been used by the public for many decades. The legal process is complex but revolves around the premise that if the path has been used as a through route by the public for a continuous period of twenty years with no objections from the owner or tenant and no display of ‘Private’ notices the route is deemed to be a public right of way: Ramblers now had to prove it. We provided evidence of usage in good faith from thirty-odd people (though there were many more statements to be had). Last week saw a unanimous recognition by the Stalybridge District Assembly of Councillors that public rights of access exist along the path between Hobson Moor Road and an existing public footpath above Mottram Rise via Gallows Clough and a decision that the path should be added to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way in Tameside. Current user rights already conferred by Open Access legislation will be re-enforced by a public footpath from Hobson Moor Road to the path above Mottram Rise.

The message which needs to go out to all people who have used this path on foot in the past but who have feared intimidation and have avoided this path during the last eighteen months is that this route will continue to be a public highway for pedestrians: this section of moorland with its solitude and its fantastic views is there for walkers to enjoy so please make the most of this victory by the Ramblers and start to use this footpath again.

If you would like to join us on our next coach trip to Bakewell on 2nd August email for more details. Our next Sunday Public Transport Walk is 26 July Oxford Rd station to West Didsbury. Meet Oxford road Station 1000.

There have been battles about the obstruction or the classification of public rights of way in Marple in the past, most of which have been resolved by the Public Rights of Way Section of Stockport MBC but just occasionally Ramblers or Stockport East Area Bridleways Association SEABA have fought for the rights of users - examples which immediately come to mind are SEABA using the legislation section 54 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act  I used to prove footpath user rights at Gallows Clough, Stalybridge to bring about a change of legal status from public footpath to public bridleway at Rollins Lane, ditto Mill Brow to Lane Ends,  also Quarry Road, Romiley to Guywood Lane via Top-o'-th'-Hill and also Mill Lane, Woodley down to Arden Bridge.

If you are aware of an obstruction to or a problem with a public right of way in Marple report it to the Public Rights of Way Officer at Stockport MBC, your local Councillor or the Footpath Officer of Stockport Ramblers but at the same time don't expect miracles  - acts of nature such as the waterlogging of the paths above The Romper/ Ridge Fold, Rollins Lane, the path through the fields on the Rose Hill side side  of Broadoak (the farm with the moat which is passed when walking from Torkington Brook and Torkington Wood to Torkington Road or the Cown Edge Way just a few minutes walk from its start at Nelson street Hazel Grove cannot usually be realistically solved without the construction of an expensive drainage system but deliberate obstruction by a landowner can be dealt with much more readily by the local authority.

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