Good enough is good enough?

Denbighshire County Council (Public Bridleway No. 1 in the Community of Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd) Public Path Diversion Order 2014.
Order Ref: R6830/W/2015/516064.
Inspector Emyr Jones.
This was an order to divert part of a bridleway from out of the garden of a house. The Inspector address what he calls a ‘clerical error’: in three places the order refers to and describes a ‘public footpath’ rather than a ‘public bridleway’. Mr Jones says, “I consider that the above matters are minor in nature and do not make the Order defective in matters of substance as described in paragraph 6 of Annex A to Circular 5/93, such that they are capable of resolution through modification.” That is an interesting view. Paragraph 6 says that the Secretary of State (this circular pre-dates the Welsh Government) can “normally disregard errors or defects of a minor nature provided they do not, in their view, prejudice the interests of any person, render the order misleading …” Isn’t describing a public bridleway as a public footpath, in an order, three times, in different sections, ‘misleading’?
In [4] the Inspector says, “The definitive route is also impassable because it is obstructed by a building, but there are other statutory means to deal with such situations.” Well, there may be, but that is not the issue, surely? What use or engagement do ‘other statutory means’ have when the Inspector is in the act of determination of the proposed diversion? Surely (as in England) the correct approach is to disregard such an unlawful obstruction as a ‘temporary circumstance’, and evaluate the proposed new route, against the old, as if the temporary circumstance were not there?
Also in [4], “Turning to the public perspective. The definitive route includes a steep section which makes it particularly difficult for equestrian use. The proposed route would only be around 8 metres longer, which would be a minimal change, and I am satisfied that confirmation of the Order would be both expedient and not substantially less convenient from a public perspective.” OK, but walkers are ‘the public’ on bridleways of equal status to equestrians. Where is the consideration of this fundamental test as regards walkers and the route as a whole? Walkers may well not find the ‘steep section’ any sort of difficulty. This has to be a matter of evidence and ‑ apparently ‑ there was none: the decision letter gives no reasons at all.
In [5] Mr Jones finds, “Furthermore, not going through the curtilage of Fron Goch would remove the feeling of invading the occupiers’ privacy which some users would feel, thereby enhancing those users enjoyment of the bridleway as a whole.” Well yes. That may be true for ‘some users’ (but is there any evidence of this, or is the Inspector engaging his own view instead?) but equally if it is true for some users it is untrue for some users, and the proportion of these different sectors has to be material?

100 not out: seldom bettered

Harry Inglis was something of a mapping genius. There is little to be found about him on Wikipedia or elsewhere, although his Contour Road Maps books (at first for cyclists and later adapted for early motor tourists) and his Graded Road Maps are plentiful on the secondhand market. This site has a scan of his Hill Path Contours booklet, which is one of Olde Graveller’s favourites.

Anyway, Harry’s paper The Roads That Led to Edinburgh (Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Harry Inglis, 1915) is 100 years old this year, and is of a quality and readability seldom approached and less often surpassed since. Ton up!

Good Service … and Bad


Olde Graveller is not one for complaining. He spends much of every day whistling ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ That is well known, but sometimes even he is moved to put finger to keyboard.
Earlier in 2015 Grav treated himself to a new velocipede: a Specialized Diverge, which is essentially a civilised cyclo-crosser, with disk brakes and decently low gears. And very good it proved to be in all departments except the braking. Even with the calipers properly centralised, and the pad clearances adjusted, both brakes ‘pulsed’ in even moderate use ‑ rather like an early anti-lock system on a motorcycle. It came and went. On one ride it was so bad at the back that Grav checked the headset and looked for a frame breakage at the side of the road. Readjustment usually made it go away, but it was back inside one short ride. The bike went back to the dealer ‑ FW Evans in Gateshead ‑ where a helpful workshop guy tried it, agreed there was a problem, and had a fiddle. It was better, but the problem was soon back.
A web search found a lot of comment about this issue, mostly regarding cable-pulled brakes on road bikes, and not Specialized in particular. Plainly something was wrong. Graveller wrote to FW Evans on 11 May, setting out the problem, and asked them to contact him to say how they would fix it. At the same time he made contact by email with Specialized in the USA, and with the brake manufacturer, TRP, in the USA and the UK. All three made contact very quickly. Specialized said to take the bike back to FW Evans and that the factory technical people would liaise directly. TRP in the USA were even more helpful. They candidly said that the heavily scalloped and drilled disks as fitted may be the cause, and they sent a set of ‘more-metal‑less-hole’ disks across the Atlantic by fast courier, free of charge. These were fitted after a bit of a struggle in removing the six ‘torx’ screws holding each original disk, and once the pads had bedded back in the brakes worked well at both ends, with no pulsing. Olde Graveller was happy once more.

Two Disks

So there you are. Excellent service from Specialized and particularly TRP in America, while FW Evans over in sunny Gateshead (about 8 miles away) still has not bothered to make contact after nearly four weeks. Graveller has had this sort of can-do customer care from the States before with Patagonia and Cannondale ‑ even the Atlantic Ocean is no barrier to getting things fixed. This side of the pond only Rohan seems to have the same attitude (which is good, given that their quality control is still a bit iffy).
Footnote. September 2015. Even with the new disks fitted, the braking was still not quite right. A set of sintered pads (not an ‘expensive’ make) was bought from Mr Amazon, and fitted. Another noticeable improvement, but the whole set-up is still not as positive and pull-responsive as the rather ancient Deore hydraulics on Grav’s MTB. What’s that you ask? Did FW Evans get back? No, they did not.

Saving Open Spaces

Saving is generally a good thing. ‘Jesus Saves!’ said the poster in Cullercoats many years ago, and some desperate Toon fan (is there any other sort?) had written underneath ‘but Wyn Davies scores from the rebound.’ Albert Einstein once said, ‘The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.’ Olde Graveller has no knowledge as to whether Wyn and Albert ever played in the same team.
Anyway, Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society has penned Saving Open Spaces, a 28-page potted history of, and prospectus for, the Open Spaces Society ‑ 150 years young and still with some of the original members. How many people who use public paths have any knowledge of the long and uphill struggle to get them surveyed and recorded in the first ‘definitive map and statement’, which was started 65 years ago? It took a further 50 years to get a ‘right to roam’ in England and Wales. The definitive map system of recording and protecting public paths is one of the jewels of post-war social legislation; how long until the current crop of barrow-boys, with their neo-con hatred of ‘public service’, pull it down, or flog it off to the French?


It’s a fiver to buy (Google the Open Spaces Society to find ‘publications’) and a pleasure to read.

Metalled Public Roads and the ‘Mainly Used’ Test.

The Northumberland County Council Definitive Map Modification Order (No 7) 2012 Byways Open to All Traffic Nos 37, 38 & 38 (Parishes of Otterburn and Rochester).
Decision Letter of 16 February 2015, Inspector Michael Lowe, PINS Ref’n FPS/P2935/7/39.
As regards this order, the decision letter makes no reference at all to Advice Note 8, and exhibits no record of evidence of balance of user before the Inspector. Without that evidence, on the basis that the order route is a sealed-surface motor road, the Inspector would be right to hold that the s.66(1) definition test is not satisfied, and refuse to confirm the order. The Inspector is surely wrong to apply a ‘character test’ to a public vehicular road that is clearly not disused?

Find this discussion in the updated ‘Notes and Materials on the Law of Bridleways and Byways’ on this website.

Keep on Trunking.

Trunker crop

1951. A ‘trunker’ – not familiar with that as an alternative to ‘trucker’. Must have been a good life, really, easing over Shap or Woodhead with the air-con, air-seat, cruise control, power steering, auto-trans, LED headlights, television, mobile phone, microwave oven, and the rest. This is a scan of an original Picture Post photograph.

Trunker caption crop