Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

Stanage: Stand Up For Stanage

Every time you go up Ringinglow Road, away from the city, a complete transformation in the landscape unfolds before your eyes. The houses stop suddenly, giving way to undulating pasture either side of a roller-coaster road until the great open space of the Ringinglow bog explodes before your eyes. The light is always different here, with an ever-changing skyscape against the drifting snow, the waving cotton grass or the vivid reds as the moorland grasses take on their autumnal tinges. On you go, past Friar’s Ridge and the lay-by where the searchlights played over Sheffield during the war. You are all of a sudden in another world, in another climate, in a wild elemental landscape. How long since you were in the claustrophobic confines of the city? 90 seconds? There, across White Path Moss and looking into the Peak District National Park’s North Lees Estate, you now see the secret side of Stanage, as a low line of escarpments and gentle slopes rising out of the moors silhouettes itself onto the horizon. Look away from the valley and there it stands proudly as far as the eye can see – the mighty sweep and towering buttresses of Stanage Edge. There is no other gritstone edge quite like it anywhere else, and if you’re a climber, no other crag that is a more popular destination. Nowhere rivals Stanage for accessibility and density of high-quality climbs of all grades in a magnificent setting. It’s also home to a significant assemblage of moorland birds, which is what earns it its status as a site of Special Scientific Interest. Just as Stanage has huge variety for rock climbers, it also has attraction for all sorts of other visitors. In a way pride of place goes to family groups, who come for their own quiet enjoyment. Some like a simple stroll, others more demanding rambles away from well trodden paths, mountain biking on the bridleway, hang gliding or bouldering. In the early 70s, General Sir Hugh Beach, then owner of the North Lees Estate, effectively gave North Lees to what was then the Peak Park Planning Board so it could be enjoyed by the public at large. What a superb act of generosity. But looking after the estate brings its own costs, and while the local economy is largely dependent on Stanage, the financial benefits that accrue don’t actually go to the organisation that now owns the land – the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). This leaves a problem which is exacerbated by the severe cut backs that affect them, along with everyone else in the public sector. Inevitably, the PDNPA is considering how they can generate the necessary income to sustain the land. At a meeting on 20th September the PDNPA voted to retain ownership and management of the estate, and it is now developing a business plan to make the site break even by September 2014. But this decision was made with minimal public consultation and many interested parties remain worried about how this additional revenue will be raised. It seems likely, for example, that it will translate into greater costs for car parking and camping, thereby putting up a barrier for some visitors. Not content with leaving it to chance, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), spurred on by its members, decided it was timely to set out a charter for Stanage to protect its future. Those who visit Stanage care about it and want a say in how it should be managed, as evidenced by the 12,000+ people who signed the Stand Up For Stanage petition. We want to be able to feed our thoughts into the process before decisions have been made, so that account can be taken of them. With questions being posed it seemed right for the BMC to say, ‘Here we stand, come and join us’. The nine points of the Stanage Charter are: - This publicly-owned estate must be retained forever for everyone. It should never be fragmented. - North Lees Estate is on open access land. Any commercial enterprise must not impede the spirit of access for all. - Key stakeholders – recreational users and the local community – must be consulted before decisions are made. There must be transparency in decision-making. - Caring for conservation, wildlife and landscape is paramount. There need be no conflict between this, adventure activity and quiet enjoyment. - People value Stanage as a wild area kept free from intrusive developments. This must be safeguarded. - The cultural and archaeological heritage of Stanage must be preserved. - Any revenue raised from the estate should be reinvested in the landscape. - Shooting rights should not be exercised. - The local economy relies on preservation of these values and open access. Photo by Chard Remain Photographical )

Next article in issue 67


RECIPE BY ANDY SWINSCOE, COURTYARD DAIRY. Serves 4, or 8 as a starter. This tart is lovely for a lunch, or serve with boiled new potatoes…

More articles