Continuing our look at the work of BMC volunteers supporting our specialist committees. The Land Management Group (LMG) is tasked with advising the BMC on land owned by the BMC and its subsidiaries, as well as potential future acquisitions.
The group is made up of a number of volunteers with specialist (often professional) expertise in a variety of relevant disciplines from legal to geotechnical, as well as BMC access officers and other staff as needed. It also works closely with a sub-group, the Harrison’s Rocks Management Group, which is comprised of keen and committed local volunteers who help to look after the two Southern Sandstone crags owned by the BMC, Harrison’s Rocks and Stone Farm Rocks.
Stone Farm Rocks, one of two Southern Sandstone crags owned by the BMC.
Find out more about: BMC owned and managed sites
Property management and maintenance
The LMG’s work, as the name suggests is very much focused on management of BMC owned land and the group has two regular meetings a year to discuss a wide variety of issues that need to be dealt with, primarily across the eight crags owned by the BMC and a number of others that fall under BMC management through formal access agreements with landowners. A standard annual work programme is an essential part of the BMC’s role as a responsible landowner and includes site inspections for all BMC owned crags alongside (depending on the crag) additional work such as grass/scrub cutting, boundary mapping and repairs, bolt inspections, treatment of invasive species, litter/fly tipping clearance etc.
Projects, procedures and events
In addition to this regularly scheduled management work, a number of site-specific one-off projects are also carried out on BMC land each year. In the past this has included everything from large projects such as the rebolting project and associated crowdfunding campaign at Horseshoe Quarry in the Peak District, through to small-scale but still very important tree safety work at many sites.
Horseshoe Quarry, a popular venue in the Peak District.
Over the past year, the LMG and access team have been involved in a number of these projects which contribute to maintaining and improving BMC owned and managed land, including:
Removal of the ‘fallen tree’ at Harrison’s Rocks – a large tree that had fallen and was leaning against the crag, still alive, for many years. Unfortunately the tree recently died and due to the subsequent onset of rot became dangerous necessitating its removal. This was a complex job carried out by specialist tree surgeons in order to remove the tree without damaging the rock around it.
Negotiation with the new owners of Eric’s Cafe at Tremadog to secure ongoing parking facilities for climbers visiting the cliffs at Tremadog, including Craig Bwlch y Moch, which is owned by the BMC, and Craig Pant Ifan, for which the BMC has a management agreement.
At Crookrise in Yorkshire, the BMC’s most recent acquisition, targeted tree work has removed both potentially dangerous standing deadwood and a small number of other trees which were shading out various buttresses, keeping the rock dirty and preventing it drying. Initial feedback has been that this has opened up some good new bouldering and reinvigorated established routes and problems.
Targeted tree work at Crookrise Crag, owned by the BMC since 2017.
Producing a report on the possible future acquisition of Craig y Forwyn, a major limestone crag in North Wales with a long history of access issues.
Investigating and facilitating discussions, drawings, costings, liability and legality on various options for access to the Isolated Buttress Harrison’s Rocks, concluding that a bridge/gantry would be preferred option. Following this, work is currently ongoing to gain planning permission to construct a bridge.
Organising repair work to the descent paths at Craig Pant Ifan using contractors.
Responding to land agents regarding the expiry of the BMC lease at Pothole Quarry – this lease has now ended but as access seems to be continuing with no issues, and in accordance with the land acquisition policy, BMC will not pursue a new lease unless access is withdrawn.
Updating signage at the entry points for BMC owned crags which provide site-specific information for visitors, starting with Stone Farm Rocks and Harrison’s Rocks.
Organising events such as WiltonFest (which sees between 300-400 visitors each year visiting the Wilton Quarries on one day, helping to drive traffic onto routes and keep them clean) and TremFest, which this year involved over 70 volunteers carrying out clearance work on the Tremadog crags to help keep them in good condition.
Intrepid volunteer in search of one of Tremadog’s lost footpaths.
Developing a new method statement for volunteers working from ropes during erosion prevention work carried out at the excellent but fragile sandstone crags of Kent and Sussex, collectively known as Southern Sandstone. The statement, developed in consultation with these volunteers, helps to minimise risks whilst carrying out this work.
Other articles in this series about BMC specialist committees:
Behind the scenes: access and conservation
Behind the scenes: BMC guidebooks
Behind the scenes: huts
Behind the scenes: international mountaineering
Behind the scenes: training, youth and walls
Find out more about: BMC specialist committees
The Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC's charity – the BMC Access & Conservation Trust – promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.
WATCH: the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign film