On Friday 2 March a group of us walked down Water-cum-Jolly to discuss access to the various crags with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) and the local water bailiff. The climbers were represented by BMC stalwart Henry Folkard, BMC Access Officer Rob Dyer, climber and DWT volunteer Kris Clemmow and myself.
The object was to establish what access was allowed to the various crags on DWT land and also agree access terms with the water bailiff. In recent months climbers have been asked to leave from certain crags like Moat Buttress and Jackdaw Point, by the water bailiff and his associates.
As it turned out the land ownership of WcJ is extremely complex and DWT only own a section which contains Jackdaw Point, the Upper Circle and Ping and Pong Buttress. Their land doesn’t include the neglected Lammergeyer Buttress, nor Vision Buttress. The fishermen own the rights for the path but are happy for this to be used and don’t have a problem with climbers at Rubicon.
DWT are very keen to establish WcJ as a very low impact wildlife reserve (ie. lower than Chee Dale which they also manage) so they would prefer no climber access at all. However, as we walked down Julia Gow from DWT was prepared to allow access to the three established crags mentioned above as long as climbers stay within the strict limits. We will define these limits in the forthcoming Peak Limestone Rockfax guidebook (due in May) but they are essentially the same as the crags already listed in older guides.
One aspect that went for the climbers in this case was the fact that when we looked at the various paths in the wildlife reserve, I was able to point out to Julia Gow that the majority of them were nothing to do with climbers since the climbers paths were obvious by being direct to the three crags.
Crags on the south side of WcJ are not affected by any restriction but both DWT and the water bailiff were keen to stress that there should be minimum disturbance on that side especially because of the possibility of nesting otters.
Climbers should no longer be asked to leave when climbing on the crags described.
It is extremely important to point out to climbers that DWT are perfectly within their rights to ban climbing altogether on the three crags and it is only because of our good relationship with the DWT that we are able to maintain access to the three current crags. They do not want any gardening, nor do they want any new routes, although they are keen for lower-offs so some new bolts may be added. Any breach of this will certainly result in climbers losing access to all three crags and maybe more if the other landowners are brought in.
This is a great example of the BMC and other interested parties working together to form an agreement that suits everyone.