28 April 2014 by Eugene Suggett
A Sunday in April saw Scarborough Ramblers walk through Hilda Wood, near Hackness.
For this they were joined not only by this blogger but rather more importantly by Robert Goodwill, local MP (Scarborough and Whitby) and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, and his wife Maureen.
A good walk, this was.
Heading north out of Hackness village, a spot spectacularly situated at the convergence of six or seven sylvan valleys (and notable not least for the grade-1-listed Hackness Hall, handsomely proportioned and splendidly landscaped), we went through Silpho and Low Dales and the dense Broxa Forest.
From Reasty Hill Top and Surgate Brow, the views over Harwood Dale and to Flamborough Head and out to sea were as sharply defined as any I can recall. After Silpho Brow we headed past the curiously-named location called Turkey Carpet and crossed Thieves’ Dikes, and after Thirlsey Bottoms forded Crossdales Beck to arrive back at Hackness.
It is a pleasing thing having an MP out on a walk, all the more so when the MP is also Transport Minister. At formal meetings in Whitehall (or, more accurately, Marsham Street, since that is where the Department is based) you can only say so much, since they are timetabled and the officials keep the agenda tight, and often other interests are there at the same time so there isn’t much scope for detail.
But here we saw local members airing various countryside and rights of way issues with their MP, and Group Chairman Phil Trafford commented on how valuable it is to have an MP with so keen an interest in countryside affairs (Mr Goodwill’s family have farmed at Terrington for several generations, and Mrs Goodwill spent many childhood days in nearby Troutsdale).
There was the chance to air a few issues of national importance, as well: the effect of highway-budget cuts in local authorities, the reorganisation of the Highways Agency, the desirability of a national walking strategy, and the effect on rights of way of HS2.
The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill – second reading 28 April – makes good bridging-provision for some rights of way, and reasonable provision for others; but a couple of dozen are proposed to be diverted unsatisfactorily, involving extra road-walking or walking unnaturally-meandering diversions, or going for significant distances right beside the line.
So, a Petition has been drafted, for depositing next week with the Clerk of Bills, setting out the Ramblers’ concerns and requesting appropriate amendment, on which we hope to be heard by the Committee later this year.
Thanks to Robert Goodwill MP for attending the walk and to Scarborough Ramblers for hosting it.
Eugene Suggett is the Ramblers' senior policy officer. Find out more about his work and read his previous blog posts. Read more about walking with MPs here.