Park and ride plan to make life a beach at secret spot

Sunseekers at Gaddings Dam, Lumbutts
Sunseekers at Gaddings Dam, Lumbutts

A park and ride service is one of several options being considered to ease congestion at a popular summer spot high up in the Pennines above Todmorden.

Gaddings Dam, Lumbutts, – often said to be Britain’s highest beach – attracted huge numbers of tourists in the summer to bask in sunshine.

But this caused frustration among villagers and businesses, with complaints about litter and inconsiderate parking.

Todmorden Town Council has now decided to address the issue and will discuss various options - including a park and ride scheme - to cater for an expected influx of sunseakers flocking to the beach, some 50 miles from the sea.

A meeting has been arranged by Todmorden Town Council for the new year following talks with people at a public meeting last week to consider at a way forward.

Publicity earlier this year described the sunny spot in Lumbutts as a secret beach less than an hour’s drive from the city and a good place to go for a swim.

This led to an increase in the number of visitors travelling to the hill top dam near Stoodley Pike and the Pennine Way, the meeting heard.

Roy Sefton, owner of The Shepherd’s Rest Inn at Lumbutts, said: “It was total bedlam. The infrastructure cannot sustain that amount of people.”

At a public meeting this week, Mr Sefton suggested as many as 600 vehicles attempted to park on Lumbutts Road which was effectively blocked with cars parked on both sides, preventing access by the emergency services if required.

It is thought an estimated 80 per cent of visitors to the dam come from outside the area on fine weekends.

Todmorden Town Councillor Christine Potter said: “There are no facilities for large number of visitors to the dam.

“The car park is little more than a layby and there are no public conveniences. Access is steep and subject to erosion.

“The land around is rated as a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with protected bird life and plants, as well as sheep - a fragile environment endangered by too many people or dogs allowed to roam freely, by litter and by fouling. Carelessly dropped cigarette ends and portable barbecues could pose a fire hazard.”

After an initial meeting, the council extended invitations to the West Yorkshire Police, the Fire Service, the Ambulance Service, Calderdale Council officers, Natural England, the TLC Bus

Company and members of the public, seeking solutions ahead of next year.

So far, Kate Kinsella at Calderdale Council is working with the media to provide a realistic description of the limitations of the area for casual visitors and Stuart Mottram is exploring signage about access to the dam, the SSSI and the Countryside Code.

The safer cleaner greener team will arrange regular litter collection and liaise with the countryside volunteers to litter pick.

Solutions to the traffic congestion may include:
l Providing passing places marked by yellow lines to allow access,
l Walking routes organised by Walkers are Welcome from Todmorden town centre to Lumbutts
l Arrangements with the TLC bus company for a park and ride.