Across the North – January 2013

by David Murray on 15 January 2013

in Cumbria, Lake District General, Lake District NP, Mining, North York Moors, Northern England, Opinion, Yorkshire

It’s time for another news post. I haven’t done one for some time.

Starting with the North West, the big news in recent days has been the Lake District National Park Authority’s rejection of an eighteen month trial installation of a Zip Wire at Honister Slate Mine, a centuries old industrial site on the side of Fleetwith Pike, in spite of its being recommended for approval by their professional staff.

Honister Crag and Fleetwith Pike

Honister Crag and Fleetwith Pike, looking across from the old quarry track.

Decision to reject Lake District zip wire bid

Lake District planning bosses have thrown out a proposal for a controversial tourist attraction for the second time against the advice of their own experts. Honister Slate Mine, in Borrowdale, sought permission to set up a zip wire to allow thrill seekers to descend Honister Crags after scaling Via Ferrata. The wire, which attracted nearly 400 letters of support, would have been in place for 18 months while an independent impact assessment was undertaken by the University of Cumbria.…
Read more from the NW Evening Mail

The decision pleased the “Friends of the Lake District” but certainly did not please their vice-president, Sir Chris Bonington, probably Britain’s most eminent mountaineer who had spoken in favour of the development. (Sir Chris Bonington falls out with Lake District conservationists over zipwire [The Guardian]).

It is now almost thirty years since I decided not to renew my membership of the “Friends”, and I’ve seen little since to make me regret that decision. The campaign to preserve the Lake District in a style that fits a fundamentalist Romantic mental model of landscape purity is extremely damaging. It ignores both the region’s genuine historic heritage and the present day needs of its people. (Yes, people do have to live and work here!)

I hope the (unelected) members of LDNPA who voted against this will soon come to realise their mistake. They should determine to work for a vibrant Lake District that takes account of a younger generation for whom this would have been a great attraction, as well as being a most appropriate development for the site of an historic mountainside industry.


Turning to more welcome news after a grouse about the LDNPA, it’s good to see the strengthening of the Pennine black grouse population. These are beautiful birds.

Grouse on the Pennines

The Guardian blog Black grouse stage recovery in their Pennine stronghold. The Guardian blog New figures from a survey of the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty show that over 1000 male birds birds were found more than 200 more than the number recorded after the recent series of hard winters. The birds are found in greater.…
Read more on The Guardian blog

And now two items from the North York Moors, one about the past and another the future.

North York Moors archaeology work unearths water mill

BBC News – North York Moors archaeology work unearths water mill. BBC News. Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe are the remains of a 16th Century water mill on the North York Moors National Park. Volunteers made the discovery on Yearsley Moor near Helmsley. They found the remains of a complex of buildings …
Read more at BBC News

A step closer to potash mining under the North York Moors

Sirius Minerals took a big step towards building a potash mine under the North York Moors as it succeeded with a key planning application. The Marine Management Organisation granted Sirius permission to extract potash from a 525sq km area off the North Yorkshire coast. The company wants to mine under the moors and extend out under the North Sea … still needs three more planning approvals this month. It will then make one final application for a pipeline …
Read more at The Daily Mail, Money


Three of the four news items this time are related. Honister and the North York Moors water mill are historic industrial sites. Industrial archaeology is a fascinating subject and it is easy to wax sentimental about the industrial activities of our forefathers. It is, however, important to remember the need for present and future industry. All too easily people living on pensions (I’m one of those) or public service incomes can come to demonise wealth creation and forget that even their own personal economic survival depends in the last analysis on industrial activity. Especially in the most beautiful areas of our landscape it must be managed with sensitivity, but it must not be rejected except for the most serious of reasons.


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