Walk 32 stats

February 22, 2011

I’ve now uploaded the Route Card for walk 32 and so can also update the overall stats, which confirm I have made it over the 300 mile mark and 90,000 feet as well as the 100 fell one. My overall total (and remember this is approximate, but the mileage figure should be reasonably accurate – the total ascent is definitely an underestimate) is 300.9 miles walked and 90,705 feet of total ascent.

By some relatively easy calculation it can therefore be seen that I am doing just under 3 miles of walking and 900 feet of climbing to bag each fell.

Wild deer, and The Nab

Wild deer pictured in front of The Nab (part of the Martindale deer forest)

On a cloudy but OK day, on which I saw a lot of Ullswater, several other walkers and some wild deer (pictured), I reached a significant milestone: fell number 100 by the rules of this project. That fell was Place Fell, and I also bagged the miniature Hallin Fell too. Read about this and look at my photos on the walk 32 page and the two other pages linked here.

I haven’t got access to Memory Map until Tuesday so don’t know yet the figures for the length of the walk and the total ascent. I may have just made it past the 300-mile mark as well, but I will confirm this in a few days. What is undeniable is that I have now done 101 of the 214 Wainwrights; thus have 113 to go. The next milestone is #107: the halfway point.

I don’t particularly support any political party so recent posts on here about the proposed sell-off of public land are not motivated by party politics, That being the case you might be interested in this response to an email from my MP, Craig Whittaker (Con). I then include my response to the response below. It’s quite long, so if all you’re interested in is my walks or photos, feel free to move on…
Dear all (bcc’d in for data protection reasons)

Thank you for contacting me via the Labour campaign website 38 degrees regarding Wednesday’s vote on the future of the Forestry Commission.  I am grateful to those who personalised their email.  I appreciate that this is an important issue to you, and I share your huge affection towards forests, but the 38 degrees campaign is frustratingly very one-sided so forgive me if I offend with the tone of my email.

Thornthwaite Forest

Woodland near the village of Thornthwaite

Firstly let me explain that Wednesday’s vote was on an Opposition Day debate which are politically motivated events in the House of Commons.  They rarely provide an opportunity to discuss substantive or constructive policy development and last week was no exception.  Secondly, as a signed up member to 38 degrees are you aware that under the Labour Government 25,000 acres of forest were sold off without any access rights guaranteed, whereas the PROPOSALS currently being consulted on will enshrine access rights into law?  Are you aware that heritage forests will be protected?  Are you aware that local and community groups will be offered the opportunity to own their local woodland?  Has 38 degrees asked you whether you’d prefer your local woodland to be run by a man in a suit sitting behind a desk in Whitehall or by an organisation such as the Woodland Trust or the National Trust?  Do you know that these measures only apply to 18% of our forests?

I thought it might help if you see the text of the motion that I did vote for:

“This House deplores the actions of the previous administration in selling off 25,000 acres of public forestry estate with wholly inadequate protections; notes that the previous administration sought to go even further in finding ways to exploit the forestry estate for commercial gain as recently as 2009; welcomes the consultation proposals to guarantee the future protection of heritage forests by offering them charitable trust status; supports the consultation proposals for robust access and public benefit conditions that will be put in place through lease conditions, including access rights for cyclists and horse-riders; believes the leasehold conditions regarding biodiversity and wildlife conservation will safeguard significant important environmental benefits; sees these proposals as important in resolving the conflict of interest whereby the Forestry Commission is the regulator of the timber sector whilst being the largest operator in the England timber market; considers that debate on the future of the forest estate ought to be conducted on the basis of the facts of the Government’s proposals; and believes that under these proposals people will continue to enjoy the access and benefits they currently have from the woodlands of England.”

It is without doubt that our proposals will see a transfer of ownership but they won’t be concreted over as the campaign groups suggest nor will access rights be threatened, unlike the forestry sell-off under the last Government.  I voted on Wednesday to defeat political opportunism at its worst and to ensure that when legislation is brought forward on this matter, our forests are actually better protected in the future than they are now.

Best wishes

Craig Whittaker MP

And my reply:
Dear Mr Whittaker,

I thank you for taking the trouble to reply to my (and others’) email.

Walkers in Fawe Park, south of Portinscale.

Walkers in Fawe Park, south of Portinscale.

A couple of points first. I am aware of Labour’s poor record in protecting the countryside. This is not a party political issue. Actually I voted for the present government. Second, I am not a ‘signed up member’ to 38 degrees. I was raising the issue of the proposed sell-off of the FC prior to being aware of the web site, on my own blog (address in signature). 38 degrees was a convenient conduit to raise what I considered an important issue.

Anyway, I do appreciate the points you are raising and some of them are fair enough. It is not all quite as straightforward as you make out, however. For instance, yes, I am “aware that local and community groups will be offered the opportunity to own their local woodland”. I might not be a paid up member of 38 degrees but I am a paid up member of two local Hebden Bridge woodland groups of whom you may have heard, Friends of Nutclough Woods and Treesponsibility, and as far as I’m concerned it would be an excellent thing if either of these two groups were given the opportunity to own the woodlands they are currently (at least in the case of FNW) virtually the only carers.

However, I know full well that neither of these groups actually has any money, so this is almost like the classic parody of the  towards a liberalist view point – that in Britain the tramp is quite free to dine at the Ritz. Many times in the past we have heard about community and charity groups that are quite willing to buy things like pubs, or other community services, but are outbid by much better-funded buyers from the private sector – and the law means that the state has to accept the highest bid regardless of the other issues raised. Will you and other MPs support a motion that in the case of selling off woodland, first refusal be given to groups like FNW, Treesponsibility or the National Trust, subject to a certain (affordable) minimum price?

Also, ‘access rights’ to a woodland means little if there are no other protections against the unsustainable exploitation of land. What sanctions are really in place against the destruction of our natural heritage? Tree protection orders are routinely violated when landowners know that the fines are minimal when compared to the benefits that are to be gained through development. I suspect it would be next-to-impossible to impose any restriction on the sale of land to say that if the conservation guidelines are breached, the land will return to public ownership – and therefore, again, there are arguments to make very careful decisions as to whom is allowed to buy this land.

No, I don’t want to see ‘men in suits’ running forests – I want to see concerned and _accountable_ public servants doing so. If I believed that the community groups you mentioned had a genuine chance of becoming the stewards of our natural (and national) heritage I might support the sale, but until that commitment is stated publicly, I’m afraid I must continue to oppose the sell-off of our forests.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Andrew Whitworth