About Opening Up Crimple Valley
From Fulwith Mill Farm Bridleway 61 runs north alongside Crimple Beck, underneath the viaduct and up the hill to meet the disused railway line on the eastern side of the valley. Bridleway 61 has unfortunately been a cul de sac route for many years.
When the Pannal to Starbeck railway line was closed, in October 1951, the land was bought by Rudding Park Estate. In 2014, the Estate generously dedicated part of it as a statutory bridleway with a view that it would provide a much needed link between bridleway 61 and bridleway 129. This would create a circular walk around the heart of the Crimple Valley Special Landscape Area.
Sadly, the landowner over whose land bridleway 61 runs has decided that he owns a small strip of 2m x 3m of railway embankment at the top of bridleway 61 and is refusing to allow access over this small 'gap'.
We are a group of supporters who want this 'gap' reopened. Users of this network of bridleways and footpaths recognise that by opening up the 'gap', it would double the amount of links and loops in this very beautiful area of Harrogate. If this gap is not opened up within 6 months, an Extinguishment Order will be put on the newly (and as yet unused) dedicated bridleway and that would be a huge loss to locals and visitors to the area.
Discussions with North Yorkshire County Council are ongoing and we are researching the Definitive Map for the Follifoot area to make sure the present information we have been given is absolutely correct, this will be done by mid May. Thanks for your patience, the wheels of local authorities grind exceedingly slow nevertheless, we are not letting go!
On Tuesday 6th February Mark Weston (Director of Access British Horse Society), Caroline Bradley (BHS) and Kieran Foster (Cycling UK) and Sue Rigby (BBT) had a meeting with North Yorkshire County Council Counsellor Don Mackenzie, and officers Ian Fielding and Ian Kelly.
The definitive map and statement were discussed in detail and it was decided that the authority would look again to make sure that the documents and maps they are presently working from are true copies of the original. They also stated that due to lack of funding, they are only processing orders that need no legal representation. They reiterated that because of the financial position of the council, no money could be expended on this right of way and confirmed they would only pursue an order if their costs were going to be met by a third party.
We now wait to hear from them about the accuracy of their working maps. We continue to contend that neither the definitive map or statement indicate there is a ‘gap’ and that both had wording that joined the two routes and therefore the whole route was on the definitive map.
We continue to explore other possibilities of sorting this out and will keep you up to date with what happens.
The background is that there is a bridleway from Fulwith Mill Lane past Fulwith Mill Farm in Harrogate which goes in the direction of Follifoot but is a dead end at the disused railway line at a point close to where the Crimple Valley Viaduct crosses the old railway line. This is at the boundary between Harrogate BC and Follifoot PC. When the Definitive Map was made in the 1950s, routes were claimed by parish and there are many instances of rights of way which stop or change status at parish boundaries because the anomalies were not resolved by the county council during the Definitive Map process. At the time, the Ramblers Association claimed the continuation of the bridleway towards Follifoot but the claim was rejected because of evidence that questioned whether a right of way existed across or south of the railway. The bridleway from Fulwith Mill Farm was not opposed so remained on the definitive map as a dead end.
Rudding Park offered to create a bridleway along the old railway line to connect to the dead end bridleway and make a through route. This was legally achieved by way of a Creation Agreement between the landowner and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). Follifoot Parish Council were consulted and raised no objection. The landowners at Fulwith Mill were not consulted as it was believed that all the land involved was in Rudding Park ownership.
When County Council officers attended to carry out work to open the new through route, the Fulwith Mill owner became aware of the Agreement. He objected to creation of a through route and to installation of a gate in his boundary. He subsequently questioned ownership of a small area of land at the boundary which was included in the Creation Agreement. He claims he has a right to the small bit of land by having had used of it for a number of years. NYCC take the view that the dedication of the new bridleway is in doubt over that small area (approximately 2m by 3m) and the new bridleway on the railway line does not quite meet the old dead end bridleway.
Ownership of the area of land at the boundary which is disputed has not been resolved and not wanting another dead end bridleway, Rudding Park asked NYCC to apply for an Extinguishment Order. An order was made but withdrawn before it went to court because of objections and an error in the order.
NYCC have notified The British Horse Society that they will not undertake any further work to resolve the dispute or to provide for the through bridleway, and have given users six months in which to reach agreement with the landowners over ownership and existence of or creation of a bridleway over the land currently in question. After this time they will apply for another Extinguishment Order if the situation has not been resolved.
We have tried contacting the Fulwith Mill landowner, but he would rather not discuss the issue. We will be contacting NYCC in an effort to reach a solution.
A bridleway over the small area of land of which ownership is in doubt could be achieved by the local authority making a Creation Order for a 2m length of bridleway at 3m wide to overlap the two areas where ownership is in dispute to ensure that the two bridleways are legally connected.
Approximation of the location of the 'gap' at the end of bridleway 61