Water-cum-Jolly Access

Access to Water-cum-Jolly has been difficult in recent years following a change in the ownership of Cramside Wood. This part of the dale was purchased by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) from Cressbrook & Litton Flyfishers Club around 2008. Since this time, water bailiffs from the fishing club and DWT staff have challenged climbers in the dale. Despite a meeting with DWT in 2014 to try to resolve their concerns, they maintain their position of no permission for climbing.

A muddy WCJ in winter
A muddy WCJ in winter

Considering the long history of climbing here, with routes originally established in the 1930s and climbing having continued throughout the decades since, the BMC does not support a ban in Water-cum-Jolly. Below are some facts about access to the dale:

  • The north bank of the river is owned by several different landowners and parts of this side of the river are the subject of current access disputes.
  • The south bank of the river is privately owned and leased to two graziers. There is no formal access agreement here but climbing access has never been an issue – see May 2015 update.
  • Vision Buttress is privately owned by one of the residents at Litton Mill. She does not allow climbing on the buttress and has been known to forcefully approach climbers with her (sometimes aggressive) dogs and ask them to leave.
  • DWT have stated they do not permit climbing on their land in the dale. Given that the dale is not designated as Open Access under CRoW, should you choose to climb here, technically speaking you will be trespassing. This is a civil (rather than criminal) offence and it is unlikely that a landowner would pursue legal proceedings providing no damage was caused.
  • Cramside Wood includes Jackdaw Point, Inch Test area (aka The Upper Circle), Ping Pong area, The Keep and Strip Search buttress. Within this area DWT ownership extends from the landward edge of the riverside path upwards. It does not include Lammergeier Buttress or Rubicon Wall.
  • The riverside path is owned by the fishing club and is a permissive route across private land – there is no formal right of way here although it has been used by the general public for many years.
  • Cramside Wood is a SSSI. The fact that a crag is situated within a SSSI does not mean it cannot be climbed on, with many of the UK’s most well known and used crags falling within SSSI boundaries. (The BMC itself owns several crags located within a SSSI, including the nearby Horseshoe Quarry). Providing climbing doesn’t damage the interest features of a SSSI, there is no reason to ban climbing. If there are concerns that this may occur, an agreement can usually made to avoid sensitive areas whilst allowing climbing to continue.
  • Currently no rare species of bird nest in the dale. However were this situation to change, the BMC would negotiate a reasonable temporary restriction on a case by case basis as we do elsewhere.
  • Fishing in the river without a valid rod licence and membership to Cressbrook & Litton Flyfishers Club is a criminal act and were climbers to be implicated, would be a significant point of contention with fishermen in any future access discussions.
  • Flooding can be a problem here. This is known about by the Environment Agency, but given that no property is threatened it is a very low priority issue for them.

If you do decide to climb in Water-cum-Jolly, please follow the guidelines below in order to prevent any impact upon other users and important habitats: 

  • Maintain a quiet and low-key presence whilst visiting. Don’t disturb the fishermen and always remain polite when interacting with other people in the dale.
  • Do not interfere with flora or damage property in any way.
  • DWT have a legitimate concern about damage to limestone grassland vegetation below and above crags. This can easily be prevented by following the below approach or descent routes:
    • Jackdaw Point: approach via the faint path starting directly beneath the crag only.
    • Inch Test area (aka The Upper Circle): do not use the path up the scree slope on the right (facing the crag), instead use the faint path directly below the crag.
    • Cupid’s Buttress (aka Ping Pong Buttress): a bolt lower off has been installed as the descent path leads through a particularly sensitive habitat at the top of the crag. Please lower off rather than topping out and descending.
  • Central Buttress and The Cornice  – see May 2015 update.

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