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Many Green Roads have ancient origins whose history tells the story of thousands of wheels, hooves and feet that have travelled their path. In the Lake District, Gatescarth Pass is unique in the commitment of landowners, National Park Authorities and user groups to make sure that its heritage of motor access is conserved.

Last December, as the floods descended on Cumbria, the future of Gatescarth as a Green Road was thrown into doubt as massive landslides covered large areas of the track. It was going to take all parties involved to pull in the same direction to get it open again. Was this the end of one of the most unique mountain passes in the UK? Cumbria TRF member Steve Pighills picks up the story...

 
Gatescarth Pass, between Mardale and Longsleddale in the Lake District is perhaps the most outstanding unsurfaced road in England. It's a rocky route through spectacular scenery and thanks to good relationships and close interaction between the Trail Riders Fellowship (who represent those who wish to ride road legal motorcycles on legal unsurfaced roads), the Green Lane Association (who perform a similar function for 4x4 drivers), and the Lake District National Park Authority it's available for trail riders and 4x4 drivers to use on a Traffic Regulation Ordered permit basis – one day a month, 18 motorcycles and 12 4x4s.

 

All parties attend an annual Gatescarth Review Meeting in February, and this year the most important topic was the closure of the pass due to a landslip on the soft terrain on the south side of the pass resulting from the deluge which afflicted Cumbria in December '15. This landslip was maybe 50m long, 10m wide and 1m deep.

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December 2015

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There's a Green Road somewhere under that landslide...

 
Throughout Cumbria the damage was terrible, houses flooded, bridges destroyed, roads washed away, as we all know, and the Park has estimated that its liability alone is £10 million. Only around £2 million of potential funding had been identified to date, and the TRF and GLASS realise that remote mountain roads, mainly used for leisure purposes by motor vehicles, cyclists and walkers are necessarily low on the list of priorities. So their local representatives asked the Park if they could fund the repair of Gatescarth and were told that to get a contractor and digger to deal with the landslip, and to do needed preventative maintenance there and on the nearby Longsleddale Pass, would require £2,500.

It seemed fair to TRF and GLASS that they should attempt to fund this jointly; gratifyingly the TRF came up with its share very quickly thanks to a generous contribution from the National body, and GLASS were equally rapid. The Park were very pleased indeed with this response.

 

By April the Park had engaged a contractor, Steve Foster, who is highly specialised in this type of high level unsurfaced road repair, and work was planned to start late that month.

 
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Steve and his digger hard at work clearing debris, improving drainage and helping Gatesgarth on the road to recovery

Weather was generally appalling, On April 27th TRF and GLASS member walked the pass in snow, but found that wisely no digger or driver was there. On May 2nd they tried again - after 36 hours of heavy rain and snow – no digger – but the next day things were improved and the landslip was well on its way away to being cleared. The contractor had already done remedial work on the north side, and planned to be proceeding down into Longsleddale soon to start up Sadgill to Kentmere. Altogether he is doing 10 days work which will be of real benefit all users including the local farmers. These images show what looks like a dreadful mess right now, after the landslip has been removed and re-profiled alongside, and the drains reinstated. There’s a layer of mud left over the original surface, which survived unscathed. But all that will consolidate quickly, grass seed will soon regenerate a green cover, and, Lake District weather permitting, in a few months everything will look good.

The permit system which allows riders and drivers to use the pass is now reinstated, with the first date being May 21st, then rotating Fri/Sat/Sun of the first weekend each month onward. Cumbria TRF normally marshal these days to provide assistance and information to any users and get a good reception from walkers and mountain. The permits are applied for online from the LDNPA website on a first come, first served, basis. The TRF and GLASS suggested that the Park should ask for a £2.50 per wheel voluntary contribution from each user which will be used for maintenance specifically on motor vehicle usable routes. We think that is not unreasonable; December’s rainfall was unusual, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that we’ll not have the same problems to face again, and it will be good to have some funds in the kitty, and to help the Park when they organize volunteer maintenance days on these old roads.

 

The TRF has 4000 members who show their support for Trail Riding by allowing their £45 membership fee to be used for the Conservation of Green Roads. Whether it's with a shovel on the side of a cold wet mountain or in a suit in front of the highest court in the land, the TRF will work on your behalf to make sure you can enjoy your Green Roads. Join us.

Many Green Roads have ancient origins whose history tells the story of thousands of wheels, hooves and feet that have travelled their path. In the Lake District, Gatescarth Pass is unique in the commitment of landowners, National Park Authorities and user groups to make sure that its heritage of motor access is conserved.

Last December, as the floods descended on Cumbria, the future of Gatescarth as a Green Road was thrown into doubt as massive landslides covered large areas of the track. It was going to take all parties involved to pull in the same direction to get it open again. Was this the end of one of the most unique mountain passes in the UK? Cumbria TRF member Steve Pighills picks up the story…

Gatescarth Pass, between Mardale and Longsleddale in the Lake District is perhaps the most outstanding unsurfaced road in England. It’s a rocky route through spectacular scenery and thanks to good relationships and close interaction between the Trail Riders Fellowship (who represent those who wish to ride road legal motorcycles on legal unsurfaced roads), the Green Lane Association (who perform a similar function for 4×4 drivers), and the Lake District National Park Authority it’s available for trail riders and 4×4 drivers to use on a Traffic Regulation Ordered permit basis – one day a month, 18 motorcycles and 12 4x4s.

All parties attend an annual Gatescarth Review Meeting in February, and this year the most important topic was the closure of the pass due to a landslip on the soft terrain on the south side of the pass resulting from the deluge which afflicted Cumbria in December ’15. This landslip was maybe 50m long, 10m wide and 1m deep.

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Gatesgarth-07

December 2015

Gatesgarth-04

There’s a Green Road somewhere under that landslide…

Throughout Cumbria the damage was terrible, houses flooded, bridges destroyed, roads washed away, as we all know, and the Park has estimated that its liability alone is £10 million. Only around £2 million of potential funding had been identified to date, and the TRF and GLASS realise that remote mountain roads, mainly used for leisure purposes by motor vehicles, cyclists and walkers are necessarily low on the list of priorities. So their local representatives asked the Park if they could fund the repair of Gatescarth and were told that to get a contractor and digger to deal with the landslip, and to do needed preventative maintenance there and on the nearby Longsleddale Pass, would require £2,500.

It seemed fair to TRF and GLASS that they should attempt to fund this jointly; gratifyingly the TRF came up with its share very quickly thanks to a generous contribution from the National body, and GLASS were equally rapid. The Park were very pleased indeed with this response.

By April the Park had engaged a contractor, Steve Foster, who is highly specialised in this type of high level unsurfaced road repair, and work was planned to start late that month.

20px

Gatesgarth-02

Steve and his digger hard at work clearing debris, improving drainage and helping Gatesgarth on the road to recovery

Weather was generally appalling, On April 27th TRF and GLASS member walked the pass in snow, but found that wisely no digger or driver was there. On May 2nd they tried again – after 36 hours of heavy rain and snow – no digger – but the next day things were improved and the landslip was well on its way away to being cleared. The contractor had already done remedial work on the north side, and planned to be proceeding down into Longsleddale soon to start up Sadgill to Kentmere. Altogether he is doing 10 days work which will be of real benefit all users including the local farmers. These images show what looks like a dreadful mess right now, after the landslip has been removed and re-profiled alongside, and the drains reinstated. There’s a layer of mud left over the original surface, which survived unscathed. But all that will consolidate quickly, grass seed will soon regenerate a green cover, and, Lake District weather permitting, in a few months everything will look good.

The permit system which allows riders and drivers to use the pass is now reinstated, with the first date being May 21st, then rotating Fri/Sat/Sun of the first weekend each month onward. Cumbria TRF normally marshal these days to provide assistance and information to any users and get a good reception from walkers and mountain. The permits are applied for online from the LDNPA website on a first come, first served, basis. The TRF and GLASS suggested that the Park should ask for a £2.50 per wheel voluntary contribution from each user which will be used for maintenance specifically on motor vehicle usable routes. We think that is not unreasonable; December’s rainfall was unusual, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that we’ll not have the same problems to face again, and it will be good to have some funds in the kitty, and to help the Park when they organize volunteer maintenance days on these old roads.

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The TRF has 4000 members who show their support for Trail Riding by allowing their £45 membership fee to be used for the Conservation of Green Roads. Whether it’s with a shovel on the side of a cold wet mountain or in a suit in front of the highest court in the land, the TRF will work on your behalf to make sure you can enjoy your Green Roads. Join us.

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