Photograph: Colours of a stone wall

The newsletter editor is always pleased to receive articles to be considered for inclusion. The views expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect official LCT policy or opinion.

It is expected that anyone wishing to contrubute material to the newsletter will first seek the approval of the editor.

OFFICIALS OF LITTLEBOROUGH CIVIC TRUST

Chairwoman: Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 01422 885173

Vice Chairman: John Street, Calder Cottage. 01706 378043

Secretary: Mark Ascough, Milbury Drive, Smithybridge. Tel. 01706 374257

Treasurer: Peter Jackson, 8 Chelburn View, Littleborough. Tel. 01706 373112

Membership Secretary: Lincoln Jackson, 1 Moorfield View, Shore. Tel. 01706 370542

Minutes Secretary: Chris Wilkinson, 3, Fair View, Littleborough. 01706 374020

Editor: Anne Lawson, 81, Todmorden Road. Tel. 01706 379604

COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Dan Docker, (Contact via Chairwoman)
Michael Farrell, 41 Hollingworth Road. Tel. 370154
Don Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Jill Roberts, 10 Townhouse Road. Tel. 377382
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. Tel. 344711

Please pass on any suggestions that you have about the Trust and its work to any of the above.

 

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Cartoon: Caterpillar and flowers

Welcome to the spring edition of the Littleborough Civic Trust Newsletter. Spring is really underway now, and although we are still experiencing a wide variety of weather and fluctuating temperatures, at least the colourful splashes of dancing yellow daffodils in local gardens and along the highways brighten up the more dismal days. The trees too are beginning to show green, and all it requires now is a bit of spring sunshine and warmth . . . .

lf the arrival of spring is stirring you to get out the old walking boots or wellies, or travel by car for a day’s outing, read the articles we have for you on footpaths, traffic and the threat to our upland moorlands.

Spring also seems to be stirring some people to destroy the very areas we consider should be available to all, and to restrict or even deny our access to it altogether. If you are interested in joining us to protect open moor land and access, to have a say in local planning matters, would like to join the Footpath Group, or fancy your hand at clearing rubbish, tree planting, bulb planting etc., then please make a note in your diary of the dates below and come and join us. Or contact. any member opposite for further details. Should you wish to support us by joining the Trust, either contact a member of the committee opposite, or call in at The Bargain Corner and speak to Mr. Lincoln Jackson.

Would existing members please note that the annual subscriptions were due in January, and still represent great value for money, whether you are a single (£2.50) or a family member (£4). Please take your subs to Mr. L Jackson. Every subscription helps us to protect and preserve your local area. Thank you.

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Dates for your Diary

Drawing of open diary

Annual General Meeting Thursday, 24th April at the Coach House, starts 8.00pm. Everyone is very welcome. Please come and find out what the Civic Trust is all about, and who’s who ! lf you would like to be more directly involved with the committee, there are vacancies. Contact any member opposite to find out more, or simply come along and ask on the night.

Shorehurst Project. Sunday, 27th April from 11.00am onwards. The Civic Trust will be tackling the area bounded by Shore Rd, Clegg St and Ribble Avenue at Shore, in a clean-up and planting project. Tools, gloves and a skip are provided. Please bring your lunch if required. This will be a fun activity and all volunteers are very welcome - you don’t have to arrive bang on 11.00am.

Public Meeting Tuesday, June 3rd at 7.30pm at the Coach House. This is a public meeting on access regarding cycling, footpaths and bridleways; we shall be looking at cycle routes with regard to potential problems of shared access.

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Return of the Turbines

Blackstone Edge, Blackshaw Head and Summit are three sites in our immediate area where this February, grants have been awarded by Government to use the moorland for wind turbine developments. ln addition, and all intervisible on our South Pennines upland plateau from these sites, Cupwith Hill. Huddersfield (that glorious stretch of moor by the M62 - near to Scammonden Reservoir, just south of where the motorway splits around the farmhouse), and Hogshead Hill (by lnchfield Moor, Todmorden) have also been designated as sites to be grant aided for almost 20 years for wind turbine developments.

Cartoon: Marching wind turbines

These sites can all be found very easily on the South Pennines Outdoor Leisure Map, and what also can be noted is their proximity to the Pennine Way - as well as the Rossendale Way, the Kirklees Way, the Station to Station Walk and the Calderdale Way. These proposed development sites rip through a treasured South Pennine moorland area of immense recreational value. This is an area valued for its wild character, an area where it is possible to get away from many modern stresses; that wonderful flow of our upland hills and moors provides a haven for thousands living in the surrounding conurbations, it is a safety valve not only for the people, but also for our National Parks, by taking some of the recreational pressures away from those more famous and eroding landscapes. We do not want them cluttered with monstrous 200ft high whirling machines which dig into the peatland with their foundations and expanses of access tracks.

We can be justifiably proud of our moorlands; due to their cultural and landscape values they have, with the blessing of the Department of the Environment, the Countryside Commission, English Nature and English Heritage, recently been declared a Heritage Area. This is not an area which should be targeted for upland industrial energy—generating developments.

The lack of sensitivity for our nation-wide landscapes is further demonstrated by the fact that Tebay and Whinfell, Kendal, have also been earmarked for very substantial wind developments - in fact there are 11 separate sites around the Lake District which have been grant aided for wind turbine projects.

These developments produce only derisory amounts of electricity; they are not short term schemes that can be taken away without leaving a trace; they require massive earth moving operations for access and foundations, especially devastating on many of our fragile upland habitats, where even JCB’s have been known to be sucked into the peatland depths.

A large tract of our South Pennine uplands has also been designated a Special Protection Area - this is a designation not of local or even regional significance, it is even more than of national significance - its conservation value is of European significance. Do we not have a duty to care for this whole moorland in its entirety for future generations?

The moneys being spent on these upland developments should be spent on conservation schemes to prevent the need for electricity. lt is instead finding its way into increased profits for the power generating developers.

Just a small note; the latest full list of renewable energy schemes was sent to me by ETSU (Energy Technology Support Unit) in an envelope franked AEA (Atomic Energy Authority). One Government inquiry did liken this association to that of King Herod looking after babies!

Although grants have been awarded for these developments, they will still require planning permission. You are entitled to object to any planning application, and that will be your opportunity to ensure that these proposals are not implemented. It may also be worthwhile asking your prospective MP just what their stand is on these developments.

Judith Schofield.

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Footpaths Under Fire

Photograph: Deliberate blockage of established path with huge stones

An examp;le of a deliberate blockage of an established path
(thankfully not local)

The following article is based upon the recent showing of the Channel 4 programme, Countryside Under Cover, in which Barry Anderson investigated a number of blocked footpaths around the country.

Barry Anderson’s mission in the recent programme for Channel 4, was to attempt to walk a number of footpaths around Britain in the company of local people who had obviously had trouble with the footpaths in their areas being blocked.

The first attempted walk was on a footpath in the Bath area. The group of walkers had a map with them, and although the map clearly showed the direction of the path, a fence and misleading sign had been placed to divert any walkers away from the true line of the path. The walkers continued, only to be accosted by a very aggressive man who was the landowner, and who insisted they follow his sign and join the footpath further down presumably this would avoid their walking on his land and in front of his house. He tried to move them back physically, and when he had gone, they tried again. This time he came at them from a different direction armed with a heavy stick - they were lucky; he had been reported to carry a shotgun.

Path number 2, again in the Bath region, resulted in a verbal attack from the landowner whose farm they were passing in front of. She harangued the group for some time, telling them that there was no path there, that the Pathfinder map they had was incorrect, and that they needed to consult the Definitive Map. She turned out to be one of three like-minded sisters, all elderly, all rude, and all extremely persistent in their claim that there was no path in front of their farmhouse, when the Definitive Map showed that there certainly was.

ln Wigan, Mr Anderson checked the Definitive Map at the Council‘s offices before setting out. This time, he wanted to be absolutely certain of the line of the path. The landowner in question had a reputation for being particularly nasty - and proved his reputation when the walkers tried to cross the farmyard. Not only had the footpath been blocked by farm buildings, the man responsible was extremely rude, aggressive and physically tried to move the walkers off the land. The lady in the group later had to have hospital treatment for bruised ribs. The threats, all recorded on film. could be used in court.

In Somerset, Mr Anderson encountered a man who refused to allow a horse rider to pass through a barred gate in order to follow the path that had been there for years, although he had received a letter from the appropriate council official regarding the right of way there. His mother joined in the argument, and the rider eventually had to turn back.

In Doncaster, one footpath had five separate blockages; barbed wire and a misleading notice in prickly undergrowth prevented access at one end, whilst wrecked cars and a hostile looking dog were encountered at the other. ln this case, the landowner had set a scrap yard over the pathway, and kept the dog to ward off anyone who tried to cross through.

The worst abuse of footpath rights was in Ayrshire: a wealthy landowner who did not want to be overlooked by people using the footpath on the coastal walk, had bought the land through which the path ran, and had erected razor wire and warning signs. The sight of wire and signs looked like something out of a war-zone, yet in Scotland, the rights of way are not as clear-cut as in the rest of the UK and the council can’t actually do anything about it !! This last case really beggared belief. To see the path disappear under wire on a coastal walk was terrible - and it didn’t look as though the path was heavily used to start with (a sledgehammer to crack a walnut?).

According to the Ramblers Association, which has 100,000 members, as many as l in 4 footpaths are difficult or impossible to use, and a great many of these are blocked by landowners using misleading signs, fences and dogs. Rights of way are rights by law, not a privilege granted by landowners - who also have duty under the law to keep the paths clear. The councils and the police are able to use the law that is there to protect rights of way - but do not often do so. In some European countries, people are allowed to wander over the land, whereas our system is based upon rights of way i.e. wandering is not allowed, but crossing land, as long as one keeps to the path, is. We are already restricted in comparison, and we must therefore fight to retain these rights - or razor wire and other such horrors may become widespread, and we may lose what access we have.

Locally, the Footpath group does a sterling job of keeping an eye on our footpaths and regularly walking them to ensure that blockages are reported and removed, and the ways remain clear. It is up to each one of us however to report blockages to the Footpath Officer, or to any member of the Trust committee, in order to keep the rights of way open. Should you like further information, or should you like to walk with the Footpath Group, please refer to the walks list, or contact any member; details given above.

Anne Lawson

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The Badger’s Tale

All too often we read in the newspapers and see on the television reports of cruelly to animals. The persecution of badgers is a particularly sickening and vile human act. But here is a happy side to one man’s response to a call from the wild.

One evening, some months ago, a lady was driving home when she saw an injured badger in the road lying motionless. It had two cubs with it who scampered off when the lady walked over to see it.

She picked it up and took it to the police station, nursing it on her knee all the while. Now anybody knowing anything at all about badgers will realise that this animal was unconscious, otherwise this lady would have been tom to shreds !! This is where I came into the story.

The police rang me at home asking "What shall we do?" "Get a vet" said I.

The following day I went along to the lady’s farm with a local vet to have a look at our "patient". What a lively creature it was; it had started to dig itself a sett under the flags in the stable and all we could see of it was its backside ! So I put on a pair of asbestos gloves for some protection and started to pull the badger out. She protested fiercely, squealing and grunting until finally I got her out. Then she ran round the stable creating for all her worth.

"The badger has to go back where she was found" said the vet. "There’s nothing wrong with her now, she's fully recovered." The lady was clearly upset at hearing this because she wanted to keep her, but of course you cannot keep a wild animal as a domestic pet.

So the following day, armed with a suitable cage borrowed from the vet, I went back to the farm with a friend to return the badger back to the wild. What a job we had getting hold of her! She charged around squealing until finally I got hold and pushed her into the cage. She got hold of me a few times too, and completely ruined my gloves, but had she really wanted to do me damage, make no mistake, she would have done - and l would have needed hospital treatment.

Drawing: Badger

Once in the cage, off we went, taking her back to where she was found. I knew there was a sett nearby. and so my friend and l had a scramble up a muddy banking to get near to it. After some slipping and sliding we got there. I put the cage down, opened the door and we both stood well back. After a couple of minutes she walked out, very cautiously at first, with her nose upwards, sniffing the air and smelling familiar smells. She walked slowly forwards, still sniffing, and then turned round and looked me straight in the eye. She then turned back and walked on again, a bit faster this time. still sniffing, and then stopped. turned round again, and again looked at me straight in the eyes. Then she turned back for the last time and ran into the bracken. I watched the bracken swishing from side to side as she made her way along her chosen path home. It was a wonderful sight, one l shall never forget. I’m only sorry l didn't take my camera.

A few days later I heard that a badger with two cubs had been seen near to where ours was released. We'll never know if it was our "lady", but I'd like to think it was.

Peter Painter.

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Back to the Footpaths!!

It seems that a great part of this newsletter concerns footpaths ! But given that there are a great many people who enjoy nothing better than to walk the area for the pleasure it gives in discovering all sorts of things off the beaten track - wildlife, scenery, waterfalls and streams, old buildings etc. etc. - then news that there is a brand new footpath on the way should be welcome.

Photograph: Prickshaw

Prickshaw Village

The path in question is a proposed long-distance footpath around Rochdale, called appropriately, the Rochdale Way, which will be a 40 mile circular route using existing rights of way. According to the Observer (glieb 5th), the plans have been backed by the Council, and a detailed filial route has been drawn up in Conjunction with interested parties. The aim is to link up those areas of beauty that we have in our area - Healey Dell, Hollingworth Lake, Watergrove and Prickshaw Village - whilst allowing easy access to the pathway (the route crosses bus routes). ln addition, there are path "loops" to give access to other areas of interest, for example, Blackstone Edge and Ashworth Valley. There will be leaflets to guide people round the route, and the way itself will be signposted.

Obviously, Littleborough and the surrounding areas will benefit greatly from the scheme, as we have so much to offer visitors - the Coach House, the Visitor’s Centre at the lake, the area around Blackstone Edge Old Road, the Roman Road, Ealees etc. etc. It remains to be seen how long it will take to get the information ready, and the signposts up for visitors, but it would be good if the Way was in place for the summer.

Editor.

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Just to complete the "Footpath Promotion Newsletter" (!!), here are some facts about road traffic, gleaned from the Panorama programme shown recently.

The programme centred mainly upon the traffic congestion around Birmingham; the 60 miles of new motorway around the city, intended to ease traffic congestion, is now nearing gridlock. If the police have to stop to remove debris from the carriageway for instance, the tailback caused will take half an hour to clear. Currently, 20 miles of motorway is regularly gridlocked during the rush hour - and a further problem was caused recently when one driver fell asleep in the jam, and had to be woken up by a police officer so that his lane could get moving again !!!!! On a good day, the traffic police reckon that the motorway will flow freely for 2-4 hours!!

Cartoon: busy road

There are 21 million cars using the motorways and roads - by 2025 it is estimated that there will be 32 million. Yet back in 1958 when the Preston By-pass was opened, (the first motorway in Great Britain), nobody could have dreamed of the amount of traffic that would he generated. Apparently, we changed the way we live because of the improved roads and easier access; people started to use the motorway routes as quick ways to visit people and places they otherwise would have thought twice about visiting, thus increasing the amount of traffic. And the trend continued as more and more miles were opened up to the car.

Even then, however, there were those who began to realise what the outcome might be, and some protests were started. These grew louder over the years, as people realised that the building of more roads did not reduce the traffic problems, but actually appeared to increase the, apart from any acts of sanctioned vandalism that were inflicted upon the countryside along the way - it has been admitted that the Newbury By-pass scheme took the route chosen by a computer as having the least distress for road users while the work was carried out!! The then Minister for Transport has now admitted that this was a big mistake, and supports the anti-road protestors.

For 40 years, the Ministry of Transport discounted the evidence, and it wasn’t until 1992, when a Government Committee asked whether new roads could cause congestion, and the answer from the subsequent report into traffic and our roads replied "Yes", that those in power started to take the matter a little more seriously and began to look at alternative ways of solving the problems. One major road "improvement" at the Robin Hood Roundabout in London has been scrapped as a result, and experiments are being carried out on toll-charging with smart cards, reducing traffic speed limits, "tweaking" traffic lights to cause hold-ups and thereby persuade people to use public transport, and so on.

lt only remains to see whether the powers that be manage to do something to support and improve our public transport services to the extent that people would be happier to use them than their own cars, and then we might see improvements in a variety of directions - easier travel when it is needed, less pollution, safer, less busy roads, a healthier generation of people through walking at least some of the time, and a halt to the destruction of fragile habitats of all types so that our children will have those wonders to enjoy in the future.

Editor.

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Footpath Walks

We have been saddened recently to hear that our former Footpath Secretary, John Hindle, has been taken seriously ill. Our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery go out to him.

On a happier note, members will see again from the programme below that our recent appeals for more leaders have borne fruit, and we are very grateful to those who have volunteered to lead walks.

The Summer l997 Programme was drawn up at a meeting of the Footpath Group in February. The Autumn Programme will be decided at a meeting at Harehill Park Council Offices on Tuesday, l7th June at 8pm. All new people are very welcome to come along and meet us.

(Apologies for any misspelling of people’s names or place names below - Editor)

Sunday l3th APRIL Meet Littleborough Square 1.15pm
Guest Leader - John B Taylor
"Just Past Water"

Distance - 6 miles

Sunday 27th APRIL Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm, Cars to Leeming
Leader - Michael Farrell
Oxenhope Moor Circular

Distance - 5.5 miles

Sunday 11th MAY Meet Littleborough Square 9.00am
Leader - Geoff Sutcliffe
Yorkshire Dales Circular

Distance - 11 miles

Sunday 25th MAY Meet Littleborough Square 1.40pm
Leader - Michael Farrell
Dry Mere Circular

Distance - 5-6 miles

Sunday 8th JUNE Meet Littleborough Square 9.00am
Leader - Alan Spinks
Wessenden Head Circular

Distance - 10 miles

Sunday 22nd JUNE Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm
Leader - Mike Rankin
Lumbutts Circular

Distance - 5 miles

Sunday 6th JULY Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm or Ogden car park 2.00pm
Leader - John B Taylor
"Up Piethorne"

Distance - 5 miles

Sunday 20th JULY Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm.
Leader - Kevin Kiernan
Reddyshore, Scoutgate and Cranberry Dam

Distance - 7 miles

Sunday 3rd AUGUST Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm
Leader - Harry Ratcliffe
Haslingden Circular

Distance - 4.5 miles

Sunday 17th AUGUST Meet Littleborough Square 1.20pm
Leader - Geoff Sutcliffe
Higherford Circular

Distance - 6 miles

Sunday 31st AUGUST Meet Littleborough Square 1.45pm
Leader - Joe Taylor
Littleborough Circular

Distance - 5-6 miles

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Editor: Anne Lawson

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