Report on Chapel Gate Repairs
REPAIRS TO CHAPEL GATE, DERBYSHIRE
The Disabled Ramblers have been invited by Peter White of Derbyshire County Council to give our views on the proposed repairs to Chapel Gate. On Tuesday 7th January, committee member Arthur Lee and I visited Chapel Gate, The Roych and Long Causeway in order to familiarise ourselves with the area. On Thursday 8th January 2015 we both attended the Peak District National Park Local Access Forum Green Lanes sub group meeting where we were able to give our views.
NOTE FOR WEB COPY OF THIS DOCUMENT
‘By All Reasonable Means’ is the Government’s Guidance on access to the countryside. Our ramble grading structure is taken from this. On initial contact with Peter White he confirmed that he has this document. In my view, the method of repair proposed at that time met the requirements of ‘By All Reasonable Means’: http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/45015
Video of our ramble on Long Causeway: http://youtu.be/Xe4a08THG6c
Video of our ramble up to the steps on Chapel Gate: http://youtu.be/i-HkyQvez9o
ABOUT THE DISABLED RAMBLERS
The Disabled Ramblers National Charity exists to help to get more mobility-limited people back into the outdoors.
We work to meet our Objectives in two main ways:
- Organising and running rambles of varying degrees of difficulty in locations around England and Wales for our members.
- Campaigning for the removal of man-made barriers such as stiles, gates and steps for the benefit of disabled people in general.
We are not looking for all footpaths to be tarmacked over! Rather we encourage the use of mobility scooters appropriate to the terrain encountered. We categorise our rambles routes from 1 to 4. Details are appended. In brief they are as follows:
Category 1 – Suitable for Wheelchairs and outdoor Powerchairs.
Category 2 – Suitable for heavy-duty Powerchairs and outdoor mobility scooters
Category 3 – Suitable for Heavy-Duty Class 3 mobility scooters. In more detail: Category 3 means longer stretches of rough going with side slopes and some ruts (max depth 100mm). The paths may well be stony tracks with quite large stones (some stones max 100mm), or there may be very wet and soft sections. Occasional steps up to 100mm may be encountered). Cambers may also be correspondingly steeper, sometimes in excess of 1 in 8.
Hills may be long and steep, with some stretches even up to 1 in 5, occasionally 1 in 4. Total significant height climbed during a day may be up to 300 metres.
Category 4 – Suitable only for experienced riders on specialist mobility scooters such as the Tramper and the TGA Supersport. Some routes may prove to be impassable.
Before discussing Chapel Gate, it might be useful to observe that the route known as Long Causeway from Redmires Reservoir on the outskirts of Sheffield to Dennis Knoll near Hathersage makes an excellent ramble. The surface is smooth enough to enable a normal mobility scooter to traverse it. Importantly, on a fairly long ramble, the smooth surface will reduce the fatigue felt by scooter users when negotiating long stretches of uneven track. The gradient is not too steep and the width allows other users to pass a scooter in safety. At 2.5 miles, or 5 miles out-and-back, this will make a useful addition to our ramble list and local users should be encouraged to use it. It will, of course, need regular maintenance to keep the surface as it is as the fine top layer grit will wash out.
Chapel Gate is a Byway Open to All Traffic (B.O.A.T.). As such it must be maintained by the appropriate Highways Authority to allow the safe passage of all traffic. A permanent Traffic Restriction Order (T.R.O.) is now in place which bans the use of motorised traffic on this Byway so that the legal users are pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, carriage drivers and non-mechanically propelled vehicles. In law, an invalid carriage is allowed to go where a pedestrian can go and so is included in this list.
While natural features such as rock steps might prevent a mobility scooter from proceeding on a footpath and is acceptable to us, Chapel Gate is not a footpath, it is a carriageway. Large rock steps have no place on a carriageway. These are not a natural feature of the landscape but are the result of wear, abuse and lack of maintenance over many years. When properly maintained, the carriageway is not too steep and is sufficiently wide. We would therefore expect that a Class 3 Mobility Scooter would, once repairs are effected, be able to negotiate the whole of the route from Sheffield Road to Barber Booth.
WET AND BOGGY AREA AT THE BYWAY SUMMIT
At the LAF sub-group meeting there was discussion about the work to be done on the summit area of the byway and proposed modifications to the plan seemed to be accepted by Peter White. We were not able to understand completely what the modifications would entail but we would expect the resultant surface to be passable in all but exceptionally wet weather.
TYPE OF REPAIR
It is not within our remit to say how a route should be repaired. We are only concerned that we can travel along it in safety.
The proposed repairs to Chapel Gate would certainly meet our needs in terms of the ability of a scooter to pass along its surface. However, as the steepness means that this would be, in our terms, a Category 3 ramble, then the surface need only be improved to the level that allows the safe passage of a large mobility scooter such as a Tramper or Supersport. These mobility scooters can cope with a certain amount of unevenness in the surface. For example both a Tramper and a Supersport can cope with up to a 4 inch step – so long as there is then a level surface sufficient for the rear wheels to be at the same level as the front before the next step. Steps such as this would need to be the exception as a prolonged duration of steps would be unreasonably trying and tiring for the rider thus making it unsafe.
The exposed areas of bedrock are of particular interest. So long as the gaps between the various areas of bedrock are filled to remove the steps then we would be happy to travel over the resulting surface.
An example of a surface that is not passable is the section of the Watkin Path in Snowdonia where large rocks have been placed to form steps. The manner in which they have been placed prevents the Tramper from proceeding due to there being no space between each step for the rear wheels to get level with the front ones and gaps between rocks cause the front wheels to drop down between them. See photo below.
It has been suggested that Stone Pitching be used to smooth the rise between the rock steps. There are many types of this, some of which might not be acceptable.
The drawing below shows an example of stone pitching which might be suitable for infilling between the areas of bedrock as the rise at each step is 25mm:
As a Byway, we would expect to see the repairs to Chapel Gate done in such a way as to meet our criteria for a Category 3 ramble. That is ruts, stones and steps of no more than 100mm.
APPENDIX 1 – GRADING OF RAMBLES
The Disabled Ramblers use a grading description to give members some feeling for the degree of difficulty of the rambles organized or co-ordinated by the Company.
There are four categories. Broadly, they represent increasing measures of challenge but the extent of the challenge relates to the type of mobility vehicle used. These definitions are for guidance only, and cannot be regarded as definitive. They take into account path surfaces and general quality of the going and a view of the gradients and cambers likely to be encountered. Broadly these categories map on to the Zone definitions described in the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) publication: “By All Reasonable Means”. Category 1 maps to Zone A, Category 2 maps to Zone B, Category 3 maps to Zone C. Category 4 goes beyond this guidance system.
Category 1 implies generally high quality surfaces along the route. The surfaces will be for the most part, smooth and all weather. This means tarmac or good quality crushed stone will predominate. However, there may occasionally be short stretches of rougher path and some seasonal surfaces such as grass or compressed earth. The path will be adequately wide, with a normal standard of 1.5m, though “pinch points” may occur, for example through gates. Cross slopes will be normally very small, say up to 1 in 12. Occasionally cross slopes may be steeper, but there will usually be ways around such sections.
There will be no steep hills greater than 1 in 12, except perhaps for very short stretches, and the total significant (see Note below) height climbed during the ramble will not exceed 30 metres.
Category 2 expects generally good surfaces, but allows longer stretches of stony going (stones up to 40mm) beaten earth or grass track-way. The path will be adequately wide, generally of the order of 1.5m, though a number of narrow stretches down to 1.2m may be present as well as “pinch points” through gates etc. Small steps not higher than 40mm may be encountered. Cross slopes will generally be very small, but sections of cambers, say up to 1 in 8, may occur for short stretches. Small stretches of soft going or stretches involving ruts (up to 40mm) will occasionally be encountered, but usually these may be bypassed.
Hills will generally be no more than 1 in 10, with occasional steeper stretches up to 1 in 8. Total significant height (See Note below) climbed may be up to 150 metres in a day.
Category 3 means longer stretches of rough going, with side slopes and some ruts (max depth 100mm). The paths may well be stony tracks with quite large stones (some stones max 100mm) or there may be very wet and soft sections. Occasional steps up to 100mm may be encountered. Cambers may also be correspondingly steeper, sometimes in excess of 1 in 8.
Hills may be long and steep, with some stretches even up to 1 in 5, or very occasionally 1 in 4. Total significant height (See Note below) climbed during a day may be up to 300 metres.
Category 4 covers paths and trails outside the three categories defined above.
Note: The height assessment used as a basis of route classification is based upon clearly identifiable hills along the route. Normal small ups and downs encountered on any ramble are discounted. The purpose of this assessment is based upon recognizing the impact of hills on battery capacity and the heating and possible safety cutouts of small electric motors over sustained climbs.
These guidance classifications correspond very broadly to the following users equipped to differing standards:
Category 1 is designed for almost all scooters and buggies, and many power-chairs. Additionally, users of manual chairs may manage the routes provided the rider is either powerfully built with plenty of upper body strength, or is assisted by able bodied pushers. The distance travelled along the ramble will usually not exceed 5 miles.
Category 2 is considered generally suitable for very many scooters and buggies, particularly those with medium size, or large, wheels and adequate batteries (at least 50ah capacity, or preferably 60ah). Four wheel machines are recommended, although some 3 wheelers are acceptable, if driven with care. Some heavy duty power-chairs may be used, if adequately supported by an able bodied helper who can steady the machine downhill or on cross cambers. Occasionally users of manual chairs may take part, provided the rider is exceptionally strong in the upper body, and/or has at least one strong fully able bodied helper. Maximum distance: usually 8 miles
Category 3 is designed for users of heavy duty and powerful scooters or buggies only. The distance covered may be highly variable – from 5 miles if along a very hilly route with long steep climbs, up to 10 miles along more level routes. Category 3 routes will present few problems to experienced users of heavy duty buggies.
Category 4 is only for adventurous users of heavy duty buggies, prepared to try routes that may prove impassable. Participation in rambles of this nature will be on an invitation only basis and such rambles are unlikely to be advertised in the official Disabled Ramblers’ annual programme of events.