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Thread: Winter Hill Fell Race

  1. #1
    Member Fellsman47's Avatar
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    Winter Hill Fell Race


    As many of you will probably know by now. The Winter Hill Fell Race has been consigned to the history books and will no longer be taking place. The decision to stop the running of the race has been taken out of my hands though ultimately it is me, as the current steward of the race that has to be seen to make that decision and let everyone know.
    Natural England has identified Winter Hill and the Flats that abound its topography as being Upland Blanket Bog, and as such it has been granted SSSI status which is protected by law. As such United Utilities being the landowners have a duty to protect and manage the land in order to comply with the requirements that are attendant with an SSSI. This would include the exclusion of mass events from the sensitive areas of open moorland. As such United Utilities in conjunction with Natural England have requested that the Winter Hill Race in its current format should not be allowed to continue. They were however, willing to allow a race to proceed using an alternative route so long as it used existing & established public rights of way. Both their request and the compromise was offered with only days to go before FRA calendar submissions were required, and even then my alternative route would be subject to approval by NE/UU (another lengthy process).
    To take the option of an alternative route using footpaths and tracks would have compromised and been at odds with the character and style of the old race, and would have been a trail race rather than a true fell race. As such the decision was taken to cancel the Winter Hill Race for the foreseeable future.
    I have pasted the statement issued by Natural England (after much cajoling and poking with a sharp stick) See below.


    Fell Races In the West Pennine Moors
    Natural Englandís Current Position
    Natural Englandís purpose is to protect and improve Englandís natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings.
    In considering how we respond to requests for access, such as those from fell running clubs, we have to try to balance our desire to support such activity with the need to protect and improve habitats found on the fells. Of these, we know that blanket bog and other habitats on deep peat are very easily damaged and are slow to recover.
    There has been much focus recently on the urgent need to conserve peatland habitats for the variety of services they provide to society, including amongst others functions for climate change, water quality and biodiversity. The majority of peatland areas in England are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Most are also managed under Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements which provide financial incentives to land managers for enhanced environmental management.
    The West Pennine Moors is largely comprised of peatland habitats including blanket bog and, due to its location close to urban areas, is under a lot of damaging access pressure. Natural England has over the last few years negotiated ES agreements on a large proportion of the land, including on the moors around Rivington. This has been done in a partnership project with the land owner United Utilities, who have invested significant money in works such as bare peat restoration and stock fencing to improve moorland condition for water quality purposes. Natural England is in the process of designating the West Pennine Moors as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in recognition of its national importance.
    In short, there is now a lot of money and effort being directed to this important area in order to try to arrest its decline and to maintain and enhance its condition for the benefit of present and future generations.
    In the case of the recent requests to run races on Winter Hill, we have advised that elements of the route which are planned to cross blanket bog should either be amended to avoid this important sensitive habitat or should be confined to footpaths or other public rights of way on more resilient surfaces. We recognise that this would necessitate a change to the normal culture of fell running, which avoids paths, but we think it could be possible to plan a route in the vicinity which would, at least in part, satisfy runnersí requirements whilst avoiding damage to habitats.
    We remain willing to work with stakeholders and partners to help work out a solution which would be acceptable to all.

    As a final note I would like to say that both United Utilities and Natural England are in no way out to penalise the Fell Running community with this request. Bolton Mountain Rescue is also subject to drastic restriction to their movement and activity on Winter Hill. As such I would urge Fell Runners to comply with NE/UU requests and either minimise or refrain running on the open moorland.

  2. #2
    Fellhound
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    End of an era Colin. A golden era.

    I'm very very sad..

  3. #3
    Master Alf's Avatar
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    The route combined with the winter weather and the support always made this a great fell race. It's a real shame it has to go. Other medium/long races around that date (Mickleden Straddle/Wadsworth Trog/ Long Mynd) are likely to attract greater numbers now.
    Valar morghulis

  4. #4
    Senior Member dantodman's Avatar
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    One of my favourite races really enjoyed it this year in the snow, was looking forward to tryingto get sub 2 next year (2.01 in the snow). What a great shame

  5. #5
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    It's difficult to have any other positive response than to thank Colin and his predecessors as race organisers for putting on such a good challenging race during the winter months.

  6. #6
    Senior Member okmum33's Avatar
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    Should of done it last year..

  7. #7
    Senior Member IWCharters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fellhound View Post
    End of an era Colin. A golden era.

    I'm very very sad..
    Yes, it surely is and I am too.

  8. #8
    Master DazTheSlug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme78 View Post
    It's difficult to have any other positive response than to thank Colin and his predecessors as race organisers for putting on such a good challenging race during the winter months.
    Hear, hear!

    does this mean the Belmont WH race is also snookered?
    Scramble the rock face through the glare of morning sun ó to run

  9. #9
    Gutted....one of the best winter fell races, so sad to see it go. Many thanks to Colin for his tremendous efforts. I now fear for Two lads, with the demise of Belmont and Winter hill.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DazTheSlug View Post
    Hear, hear!

    does this mean the Belmont WH race is also snookered?
    Last running of Belmont Winter Hill was this year. It will not be run again. Lostock's Henderson's End and Two Lads are still going.
    Two Lads is safe because it sticks largely to Public Rights of Way. Henderson's End is also fine because it avoids the Winter Hill flats (The bit between checkpoints 4 and 6 on the WH fell race)

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