Scenic Route Closed To Cars – Good Policy?

by David Murray on 15 November 2011

in North York Moors, Opinion, Walking

An article in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post reports the closure of a popular scenic route.

Forestry chiefs have permanently closed a North Yorkshire road that regularly tops lists of the best drives in the country, to restore tranquillity to the picturesque valley. The Forestry Commission has announced it has closed a three-mile stretch of woodland road through Newtondale Forest, near Pickering, which is one of England’s most spectacular valleys.
[To read more]

In the course of the article three reasons for the closure are given:

  • To restore tranquility
  • Landslips making navigation difficult
  • High cost of repairs

The last two of these are understandable in these financially straightened times. The first, though, raises questions. The North York Moors steam railway runs through the valley. It’s not exactly silent. The report says that walkers will now be able to “enjoy the peace and quiet without the roar of passing motor traffic.” Was there really such a “roar”? It isn’t the A1, after all.

My main concern, however, is the closure of a highly scenic route to many who are simply unable to navigate it on foot. In many elderly couples there is often one who is unable to walk any distance. Must they now be split up for only one of them to enjoy this splendid countryside. No, most likely they’ll neither of them go. And what about the disabled who used to be able to enjoy a drive through the forest?

I’m sure the Forestry Commission didn’t mean it that way but it is an effectively ageist decision, and will make things more difficult for many disable people. Sad.

The Commission says that it has consulted widely about the closure, and maybe there are considerations of which I am unaware. My reason for writing about this here, however, is less related to the specific case than to a concern that this should not become the forerunner of many similar decisions.

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