As eight more groups of climbers are caught climbing in banned areas, Cheddar Gorge access is now approaching crisis point.
A few weeks ago, we reported that Cheddar Gorge climbing was at risk from thoughtless climbers breaking the agreed access arrangements.
However, there have been further cases of climbers using crags outside of the agreed summer areas. Last weekend (31 May - 1 June) Cheddar Caves & Gorge (CC&G) staff had to approach eight groups who were climbing within the restricted areas.
This is unfortunate and follows a great bank holiday weekend the week before, when all climbers in the Gorge were only using crags that were open within the access agreement.
Hopefully last weekend was a one-off situation. Irritation at CC&G is rising, understandably, due to the amount of staff time being used up dealing with the problem, and the potential risk to the public below.
If there isn’t a big improvement to the situation, there is now a serious risk that CC&G could withdraw the permissive access they allow climbers to the South Side crags for everything other than the winter season.
The BMC is working with CC&G to try to do everything we can to make climbers aware of the access restrictions. CC&G do not want signs up marking the restricted areas at this time as they don’t like excess signage within the gorge which would impact on the aesthetics of the place. We are exploring other options with them but, ultimately, it's up to all climbers to take responsibility and make sure we’re not climbing where we shouldn’t be.
If the climbing community isn’t seen to improve our collective behaviour, the current good access we enjoy to the South Side could be lost for good.
Climbing at Cheddar Gorge? Don't forget:
Make sure you have third-party liability insurance to a minimum of £10 million (a standard feature of BMC/MCofS membership)
Check the access calendar to make sure where you want to go is open for climbing
Only park in the long-stay visitor car parks
Be friendly to any CC&G staff you talk to
If you see climbers in an area out of season, let them know
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