The BMC recently attended a meeting of stakeholders with Defence Estates at Castlemartin, Pembroke to discuss proposed changes to access at Range West and Range East.
The Defence Training Estate in Pembrokeshire has recently reviewed public access on the Castlemartin Range and has identified a number of options to try and make access easier and fairer to all visitors. The BMC has until 5th December to respond to the proposals which are outlined below.
Range East - At present the Range is closed almost every week day. Access is possible along the 5km bridleway for climbers, walkers, cyclists, fishermen and horse riders at weekends and most evenings when there is no live firing and the flags are down. Current policy dictates that if any part of Range East is in use for live firing or the templates from Range West extend into Range East (towards the Stack rocks end), the whole area is closed despite only a small area being affected.
Proposal – Allowing some access to Range East when firing is taking place on Range 6. This would mean constructing a new guard post just east of Bullslaughter Bay (GR 942944) so that the main part of Range East becomes accessible. This will mean an extra 30-40 days per year (mostly August) when it is possible to climb at Huntsman’s Leap, Mewsford, Triple Overhang, Saddle Head etc.
Range West – At present there is no coast path along Range West and when there is no live firing and the flags are down, access is only available to briefed and accredited visitors, mainly at weekends. As a consequence of the nature of ammunition fired on Range West, the area is deemed to be particularly dangerous.
Proposal- A clearly marked path along the coastal edge of Range West (from Stack Rocks car park to Gupton Gate) would be created and would be swept by range staff at the end of each day to ensure there are no visible and un-exploded hazards.
All persons accessing Range West will need a red card briefing as at present but briefings will be extended to include walkers and cyclists as well as surfers and fishermen (not horse riders) so the public can access the Range as an individual and will no longer have to be part of a guided group, as is the current situation for walkers.
Access will be extended to include evenings after 5pm. Climbing access will still be restricted to protect nesting birds in the spring. Access to the Range must be along this path.
Climbers unfortunately, will no longer be able to sign in a friend. Everyone wishing to climb at Range West will have to attend a briefing in person although the number of annual briefings is likely to increase – this will make briefings fair to all visitors. The red card will also include photo ID.
The BMC are currently investigating the possibility of installing a number of belay stakes along Range West. The positioning of these will be determined by our local access rep and local climbing club and when these will be installed will depend on the availability of EOD clearance but it is hoped this will happen early next year.
New Castlemartin Range Path - A new way-marked path will be created following the landward edge of the MOD property and would be open to the public throughout the year, irrespective of the type of training tasking place on the Ranges. It would not be subject to restrictions and would be open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders 24/7. This will provide a circular walk/bike ride when combined with the coastal tracks through Range East and Range West.
Following on from the consultation, Defence Estate hope to implement these changes in 2009 / 2010. If you have any comments regarding the proposed changes, please contact Cath Flitcroft at Cath@thebmc.co.uk or follow the thread on UK Climbing.
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