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2021 Newsletters

March 2021

posted 28 Mar 2021, 04:20 by Gill Morrell



MARCH 2021

This newsletter records what the RBBA committee have been involved with concerning Rights of Way in Rochdale, Rossendale and Bury in the last 3 months.

RBBA committee has still been working hard on your behalf during the Coronavirus crisis.


Norden - RocERUPP 19

This section is for those who appreciate solving a mystery.

RocERUPP19 runs between Hollin Lane and Bamford Mews in Bamford. We introduced this path in the December newsletter.  Further research has produced a confusing picture.

A draft definitive map, predating 1976, shows the route as a footpath but not completely on the same route as today.

Draft definitive map pre 1976


ROWmaps shows the route as a restricted byway.

RBBA contacted ROWmaps and asked why they classified this route as a restricted byway. Apparently, in 2013 when ROWmaps were being compiled, ROWmaps received information about this route from Rochdale Council saying that it was a Road Used as a Public Path (RUPP). RUPPs were meant to have been reclassified in 2006 either as Byways or Bridleways. Only a few RUPPs were classified as footpaths if there was no evidence for them to be shown as a byway or bridleway. ROWmaps chose to represent this path as a restricted byway.

Streetmap also show this route as a restricted byway on the same line as ROWmaps.

Street Map 1:25000  



However, the OS Explorer Map scale 1:25000 shows something completely different.


OS Explorer 1:25000 (scanned)

Are you confused yet?

We do not yet have public access to the new, updated Rochdale definitive map but we have been sent an extract of it showing this route.

New Rochdale Definitive Map

Text Box: On this map our route is shown as footpath, RocFp19. How this category has been chosen is not clear, considering that in 2013 this route was considered a RUPP by Rochdale Council




Operation Dragster

A report from GMP Rochdale·

Operation Dragster is the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) response to the illegal off-road vehicle activities on the moorland North of Rochdale.


Last year at the start of the first lockdown PC Jones (Spotland and Falinge Ward) and PC Giblin (Norden and Bamford Ward) expanded Operation Dragster due to increased complaints about illegal off-road activity. A large number of residents in the affected communities and their ward councillors became actively involved in the operation and regular on-line Zoom meetings are held to discuss issues and opportunities.


As a result of the regular meetings, residents in these affected communities identified a number of opportunities to improve moorland access and have raised over £13,000 to secure and protect the moors in a number of areas, whilst ensuring lawful users have continued unrestricted access.


Financial contributions  have come from Norden, Spotland & Falinge and Healey Ward Funds; Rochdale North Township Capital Fund, the Lord of the Manor of Rochdale, Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum, Rochdale & Bury Bridleways Association and the Greater Manchester Lieutenancy Office of the Duchy of Lancaster.


Evidence shows large numbers of off-road vehicles travel from outside the Rochdale area; some from as far away as Merseyside, Cheshire, Derbyshire and beyond, in order to illegally ride or drive on the moors.


Unfortunately, the actions of a few are spoiling it for the many. The illegal use of off-road vehicles, particularly motorbikes, quads and 4x4s, is causing significant environmental damage to the surrounding moorland peat (a natural carbon store), damaging wildlife (especially ground nesting birds) and putting upland farming at risk by distressing grazing cattle and sheep. These illegal off-road vehicles are damaging footpaths and bridleways, there are also reports of legitimate users of these facilities (farmers, equestrians, ramblers and cyclists, etc.) being put at risk and threatened with physical violence.


GMP's Safer Roads Targeting team will continue to undertake regular enforcement activity in the area. On Sunday 24th of February 2021 they seized 1 off-road bike and 5 vans used to transport off-road bikes.


RBBA strongly believe the moors in our area should be a safe place for locals and visitors to enjoy, especially given how the current pandemic has shown our green spaces to be incredibly beneficial to the health and wellbeing of so many legitimate users.


Enforcement activity will continue throughout this year and preventative measures will soon  be put in place.


To report illegal off-road vehicles, contact the Police on 101 or use the Live Chat facility on the GMP Website:

ROCHDALE Splash Lane

RBBA e-mailed Rochdale Rights of Way Officer, Julie Simpson, to say thank you for the work done on Splash Lane.

Last week after riding from Splash Lane to Black Dad last Thursday after all the rain we are pleased to let you know that the work recently undertaken on this bridleway appears to have held up really well. There was one small part of the raised banking which seems to have been lowered slightly which we thought should be pointed out to you in case you felt a small amount of early action might stop further flooding of the path at a later date. At the moment though it does not appear the bank was breached with the rains last week. Can we thank you on behalf of our members for a job well done.

ROCHDALE Fisherfield

An e-mail to Julie Simpson

One of our members has sent us the attached post regarding the state of the path just beyond the gate at the back of the old Fisherfield Nursery. Towards the end of last year  the dip down into the gully was quite deep. The opening of the gate onto the bridleway does mean that you really have no alternative but to go down this dip. I have tried to encourage them to send into environmental management so that it can be logged but whether they do that or not I can not say. It would be appreciated if at some time you could see if something could be done to make the path safe



ROCHDALE  Healey Dell

Gill Morrell is the lead in this case.

RBBA are attempting to negotiate access for horse riders through the nature reserve at Healey Dell. The Valley of Stone Greenway in Rossendale leads into this section of Healey Dell and is open to horse riders. It is at the Rochdale boundary that access for horse riders is removed.

The following from John Gillighan, Senior Engineer (Highways) at Rochdale Council indicates what we have to overcome to achieve our aims.

The main track through Healey Dell Nature Reserve, until it being designated as a National Cycle Route, was only ever a permissive one. Whilst there are a number of public footpaths, there are NO Bridleways. 

The exclusion of horses was made around 20 years ago on Health and Safety grounds due to conflicts with other users (dog walkers / cyclists / pedestrians / children on bicycles / pushchairs / wheelchairs etc.). On the occasions when gates have been removed / left open by contractors we have had instances of horses galloping down the railway with little regard for anyone who might be around one of the bends or approaching from one of the side paths. One of the major considerations is also that by excluding horses we can exclude motorbikes more effectively. 

Finally during the consultation for the Pennine Bridleway, the Countryside Commission’s preferred route would have been to go along the railway from Station Road. The local Bridleways group objected in favour of going over the top, through Prickshaw & Spring Mill, as this would afford a more scenic route! 

Considering the reasoning behind these decisions I don’t think much has changed. I don’t believe there will be much desire from Healey Dells User group to change this.


 RBBA response

1) We have never said that there were previous bridleways along the main track in Healey Dell Nature Reserve. What we are questioning is why, when the track is being upgraded to a National Cycleway, is not another vulnerable group (Horse Riders) being considered. There are plenty of examples where horses, cyclists and pedestrians share the same route. All existing Bridleways are examples of this. It should however be noted that horses used the disused railway track for a number of years until about 30 years ago when the Healey Dell Nature reserve was formed and the path was designated as a footpath and barriers put in place.

2) The view 20 years ago may very well have been to exclude horses on "Health and Safety" grounds but we would put it to you that this is discriminatory against horse riders. There are just as many examples of where cyclists have put pedestrians at danger by riding too fast in a much more silent manner than horses. This is becoming an even bigger threat with the number of e-bikes that are now around. As with any sector of the population there is always a few inconsiderate individuals that do not treat other users with the respect that they deserve. If there was real Health and Safety concerns then all existing Bridleways would not be shared by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. We did lobby at the time for the route to be open to horse riders but the decision was made to only allow pedestrians. The move to change the designation to a cycleway changes all this. A quick search on the internet showed that rather than horses being a danger to pedestrians it is far more likely that horses are the vulnerable group from dogs and cyclists (see the attached word document)

3) Your concerns you expressed regarding Health & Safety Issues are not consistent with the experience of the Bridleway and National Cycle Trail formed by the continuation of the disused railway line from Shawclough Road down to Cronkeyshaw Common (Joy Street) which has been in existence and used over many years by Horse Riders, Cyclists, Ramblers and Dog Walkers. We are not aware of any problems concerning the danger to any users associated with this route and consequently are you basing your view on hearsay rather than evidence? The Rochdale Rights of Way Officer, Julie Simpson, would be the best source to independently confirm if any incidents have occurred on this existing route. We are not saying individual incidents would potentially not occur but in general the experience of Bridleways over the Borough, and indeed over the entire country, confirms that this is not a Health and Safety Issue.

4)  We understand and concur with your concern regarding the potential illegal use by motorbikes but regard your view, that putting horses at risk on the ever increasing busy roads should be preferable to a bit of thought and careful design, is not a tenable position to take. There are many examples of horse friendly barriers which restrict the use of the routes by motorised vehicles. If a cyclist can get through a barrier then so can motorised bikes. Hence opening up the Dell to cyclists already causes potential issues to motorised vehicles.

5) Your final point regarding the consultation that was done at the time of the formation of the Pennine Bridleway and the fact that "local Bridleways group objected in favour of going over the top through Prickshaw & Spring Mill, as this would afford a more scenic route". We would like to know which local bridleway group or groups passed this comment. It definitely was not our organisation. The Pennine Bridleway is a National Horse Trail used by visitors from all over the country who spend days traversing the route supporting the local economy by using B&B and other facilities on the route. Consequently from a National Trail perspective scenic routes are a major consideration. From a local Bridleways Group point of view our interests are in developing safe routes for horses to connect together the disparate number of bridleways thus providing safe local circular routes for the equine community in the area. The Dell would safely link the Pennine bridleway route at Prickshaw with the Bridleway/National Cycle Trail at the Shawclough Road without the need for the riders to negotiate the busy Whitworth Road and at Shawclough Road. Given the Dell is to be open to Cyclists it is very narrow minded to exclude the other vulnerable group of equestrians and endanger the lives of the youth of Rochdale who enjoy the leisure pastime of equestrians.

One final point we would like to understand is why it appears that Rochdale MBC is considering that different criterion for user use on National Trials should apply at boundaries between different authorities. What difference in risk occurs at the border of Rossendale and Rochdale? The Valley of Stone Greenway is already open to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders right up to the gate into Healey Dell. All we are asking is that this is continued on the Rochdale side. How many accidents have occurred on the Rossendale path between horses and pedestrians? We are not aware of any. The surface that they have provided is soft rubberised composite which provides an excellent surface for cyclists and horses alike and if there are any Health and Safety concerns they would have materialised by now as the path has been open for well over a year. Please note that we are not requesting that a similar surface is provided on the route on the Rochdale Borough side as in our view the existing surface in the Dell would be more than suitable for extending the usage to cyclists and horse riders. 

We would appreciate it, if you are not the best person to answer our concerns on behalf of Rochdale Council, that you let us know who that person is and pass on our concerns so that they can be addressed .

It is really important in todays age of ever increasingly busy and fast flowing roads that as much can be done to enable horses and cyclists to avoid roads if at all possible. This would also help Rochdale Council to hit its CO2 targets and its targets on facilitating the health and welfare of its residents particularly children. There is a large number of young riders that would benefit from the opening of such a route. We would like Rochdale Council to take our concerns seriously so they can be fed into any plans and look forward to a constructive dialogue on this matter hopefully to the benefit of all.

Gill is waiting for Covid restrictions to ease and has arranged to walk the route with Mr. Gillighan when that is possible.

ROSSENDALE  Spring Mill, Whitworth

Irene Pope is taking the lead in this case.

Recently there  have been problems with that part of the Pennine Bridleway that passes through the development site at Spring Mill as the developers go to work on the SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Site). Gleesons, the developers, have shown no respect for this National Trail.

Extract from planning document

The red lines show the boundary of the development site.

Text Box: SUDS site

Text Box: Affected part of Pennine Bridleway



·         Diggers are travelling along the bridleway damaging the surface.

·         Riders had to negotiate a big trench 6” deep dug across the bridleway, getting their horses to step across.


The bridleway after the trench has been filled in.



·         A ramp was built across the bridleway from the development site to the SUDS area.

·         During periods of heavy rain water is pouring off this contaminated site and eroding the surface of the bridleway.



·         Barriers and “Pedestrian Access Only” signs were erected on the bridleway.



None of this activity was discussed in the planning documents for this development.

A DEFRA document says


7.2 The effect of the development on a public right of way is a material consideration in the determination of applications for planning permission and local planning authorities should ensure that the potential consequences are taken into account whenever such applications are considered.

RBBA wrote to Rossendale Planning, Lancashire Rights of Way and 2 Pennine Bridleway Rangers about these problems.


·         We have not received a reply from Rossendale Planning to date.


·         Lancashire Rights of Way said

No consent has been given for any works to the surface on this section of bridleway. This will be looked into and we'll create a report in your name on the PROW database.

·         The Pennine Bridleway Ranger visited the site twice and sorted out the problems.

If you have any problems on this stretch of the Pennine Bridleway please let us know.

 ROCHDALE Catley Lanehead

If you ride in the area around Catley Lanehead at the bottom of Rooley Moor Road please be aware that there is a bird scarer in operation in that area. This scarer produces a very loud bang and there is no warning for when it will be activated. It is in place to remove Canada Wild Geese which are grazing the fields. We have had reports of riders having problems with their horses when the bang occurs.


BURY Haweswater Aqueduct

RBBA attended a virtual meeting with the United Utilities HARP team involved with planning the refurbishment of the Haweswater Aqueduct. Two bridleways in the Bury area will be adversely affected by this work.

Sillinghurst Farm. BW 33BUR

(The green area shows underground working.) (The brown area surface working.)( Chicken sheds.)

Where the green and brown areas meet, that is on the boundary of BW33.

There will be large machinery working within 5m of the bridleway 33BUR. I expressed concern that this was very close on both visual and noise grounds and that many horses would not cope with this. Added problems are that the surface is tarmac and very slippery. Then you have the occasions when the farmer is emptying the sheds every few weeks. The only suggestion we could make was to erect a high fence along the side of the bridleway to shield horses from the machinery.



White Carr Lane BW 15BUR


Text Box: hairpin bendText Box: affected BW 15BUR

This is the bridleway that comes up from Tetrosyl and goes through a tunnel under the motorway and then joins the bottom of Sales' Lane going up to Buckhurst. They have to use the section from the junction with Bentley Lane/Sales' Lane and where the bridleway emerges from the tunnel. This is a single track road covered in tarmac because it is also used as access to Walmersley Golf Club. There is also a hairpin bend to negotiate. An HGV got stuck on that last summer.


I suggested they put up signs (Red triangle with a horse in the middle) on the approaches because I bet not many people realise it is a bridleway. I asked if we can have bridleway fingerposts put up as well. They are going to employ banksmen and hold vehicles at the motorway bridge. I suggested they need 2 banksmen, one at the motor bridge and 1 near the bridleway tunnel and that vehicles should be held whilst riders use the bridleway. I said I would not want to hang around and wait whilst an HGV came through. I said horses should have priority as it is a bridleway and the HGVs should wait. Not much more to suggest I think.


We have since heard that HARP have listened to our concerns and suggestions and should  be in touch shortly with their proposals, to which Bury ROW Officer has raised no objections at this stage.



BURY  Football pitch off Limefield Brow, Walmersley


A local resident has contacted RBBA to complain about hoofprints on the football pitch on the site that used to be Hillside Primary School off Limefield Brow.




Please, if you ride in that area, can you avoid the football pitch and keep to the edges of that plot of land where there is long grass. These incidents give horse riders bad press and we can do without that.

Also in Norden, Rochdale

There have been a few instances where horse riders have been using soft verges and grassy areas in and around Norden Village. Deep indentations are being left which could cause injury to walkers, runners, dogs and horses as the ground dries up leaving hard uneven surfaces. Young children are particular at risk from such surface damage.


Can all riders please be considerate and avoid any soft grassy areas whilst the ground is so wet.

Please stick to roads or solid Paths and Bridleways until ground conditions improve .

A little more forethought in the selection of routes during wet weather will improve the reputation of horse riders with our fellow Villagers.  Please pass this message onto any non-members you know so we might reach the people concerned.”



When this was posted on Facebook it generated a rather disturbing comment from the public.


Horse riders think they can do whatever.”


We need to do everything we can to improve the opinion the public have of us.


GENERAL Historical Evidence – Cross Roads


User evidence is not the only kind of evidence that can be used to support a DMMO (Definitive Map Modification Order) application for upgrading a route to a bridleway or restricted byway. Historical evidence taken from old maps and other archive material can also be used.


Maps from the late 18th and early 19th century often show just 2 types of road, Turnpikes and Cross Roads. Cross Roads are ways that join up major routes by going across country. RBBA have used evidence of Cross Roads extensively in their DMMOs based on historical evidence.


Christopher Greenwood’s map of 1818



Back in the 1990s a researcher called Susan Taylor submitted an application for The Pennine Packhorse Trails Trust for an upgrade of Crostons Close Road linking Castle Hill Road to Edenfield Road through Buckhurst based on both User and Historical evidence. RBBA did a lot of the preliminary research but at that time did not have the expertise to put together a worthwhile DMMO application. This DMMO was successful and the route through the “drains” became a bridleway.


Susan has written two impressive documents to support DMMOs. “What is an Occupation Road?” and “What is a Cross Road?” Both have been submitted to Bury Council in support of our historical DMMOs in that area.


Susan has recently noticed that Inspectors’ decisions regarding Cross Roads in Public Inquiries has become inconsistent and usually falls to denying the evidence of Cross Roads being Public Vehicular Highways. She is preparing a High Court challenge to these negative decisions  and recently posted an appeal on the Facebook page, Horse Access Campaign, asking for donations to fund this £20 000 High Court action. RBBA has donated £300 towards this cause.


We had a very nice thank you from Susan


Dear Gill, I’m so amazed to receive your cheque  for £300 just now towards my High Court ambitions which aims to stop Defra’s law breaking re “cross road” evidence.   That is incredibly generous and I thank you for your faith in me.   If we get to court and I win I undertake to return your funds to you in full. Please thank all your members on my behalf.  I will keep all donors up-dated as we go along this journey.  Kind regards Susan Taylor



New BHS Access Field Officer.

Message from Mark Weston, Director of Access at the BHS.

I am pleased to announce that the Society’s seventh Access Field Officer will be taking up his role as Access Field Officer for our north and north west regions on Monday 15th March.  

Victor Pogson introduces himself as follows ‘Yorkshire born and bred, I have a love of the great outdoors. When not acting as unpaid chauffeur to my partner’s horse Max, I can often be found with my walking boots on and a rucksack on my back navigating my way along country lanes and public rights of way. With a lifelong interest in map-reading, my involvement with routes old and new ranges from helping the Ancient Roads Conservation Volunteers repair an ancient moorland byway with pick and shovel to my volunteer work as Footpath Secretary with my local Ramblers Group and most recently Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way Team Coordinator for North Yorkshire. 

I worked in operations and sales roles in retail banking before striking out on my own to run a successful travel business for 15 years. In the last four years I have worked with global consultancy firms as Manager for UK and Swiss operations and Project Support Specialist for global strategy planning workshops.’ 

Victor is a paid employee and should be able to answer questions on Dobbin etc. DOBBIN is the workhorse that provides web mapping facilities for the volunteer including the provision of: RideMaps - Rides and Trails in the UK.


  His main role is to get DMMO applications in as fast as possible before the cut off date. Will Steel, the 2026 Project Manager,  is getting rather snowed under as he was the first officer and came under fire from all sides with queries and of course he star rates the applications that go in which must take some time. 


Thank you for your support. We wish you happy riding this summer. If you encounter any problems with the routes you use please let us know via the RBBA website using this address

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