Rochdale CHA Rambling Club




Help maintain our network of public footpaths.


If your walk has been spoilt by a wonky or broken stile, a blocked path, a mass of barbed wire or other obstruction, don’t just grumble, let the Footpath Secretary know about it. He’ll investigate and do his best to make sure somebody sorts it.

Rochdale CHA Rambling Club’s Footpath Secretary is John Oliver. Tell him about any problems or issues you find and give as much details of the location as possible eg Rights of Way (ROW) or grid reference of the location. If a photograph of the problem could be forwarded, that would be much appreciated. Email contact is preferred: [email protected] or you can ring John on: 07854 602738.

Peter Warburton, the Club's former Footpaths Secretary is continuing to help John with the benefit of his experience and expertise. Since taking over the position at the end of 2012 John has introduced himself and established working relationships with, amongst others, Martin Riley of the Peak and Northern Footpath Society and Roy Thornley and Derek Clutterbuck, Footpath Secretary and Assistant Footpath Secretary of the Rambler's Association, Rochdale Group.

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A helping hand for Littleborough, as reported in Rochdale Observer  24 Aug 2013


12 December 2016

A report to Rochdale CHA Rambling Club committee on 12 December 2016 by Footpaths Secretary John Oliver noted that in the previous year’s Report he had written to Lancashire County Council about three obstructions along a footpath which runs between Pat Moss and Slip-in Farm in the Bacup area.  In that report he’d recommended that the three obstructions should be removed because they interfered with the unrestricted public right of passage.  And that, in accordance with BS5709:2006 and the Equality Act 2010, those obstructions should be replaced by Gap or a Gate. On 28 October 2016 an email from Lancashire County Council’s Rights of Way Team advised that the wooden structures had been replaced with with new gates and the path is now more accessible.   

In last year’s Report John advised that since members of Rochdale’s Rights of Way Forum had registered their disappointment with the Council’s lack of action in attending to footpath problems reported to them, they promised that that over the next 4 months real progress would be made in completing the practical works required to ensure the borough’s network of 1,795 Public Rights of Way were accessible. and that enforcement issues with landowners would be dealt with. Of the 181 path problems, of which 30 or so of Rochdale CHA members helped to identify in the 2014 Survey of our Borough’s network of Rights of Way, only 71 of these problems remain to be actioned. 15 of which are signage, 27 are stiles and 33 are obstructions.

Problems do continue to arise and during the last 12 months John has submitted 51 reports to Rochdale’s Environmental Department about footpaths requiring attention including ...

Footpath across the grounds of the Premier Inn in Newhey

An obstruction of an old single bed base and 3 pieces of wood which have been nailed across the footpath.

Garside Farm, Dig Gate Lane, Milnrow

A DIY diversion of the footpath

Cribden Lane Bridleway. Rawtenstall

A report was sent to Lancashire County Council about a farmer who on the 12 June 2016, told members of the Rochdale CHA ‘B’ Group they couldn’t stop on the Cribden Lane Bridleway, to eat their lunch.

During 2016 John attended the 12 January, 19 April, 12 July and 11 November meetings of Rochdale’s Rights of Way Forum together with representatives of the Ramblers Rochdale Branch, the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, the Rochdale and Bury Bridleways Association, two local Councillors and Officers from the Environmental Department.  He also acted as Minutes Secretary for most of these meetings.  

John advises that the revised version of the current 40-year old Definitive Map and Statements of Rochdale MBC’s Public Rights of Way will be published in the autumn of 2017.  Rochdale MBC’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan for the ten year period 2017 to 2027 is due to be published by October 2017.  And there is hope it may not be too long before Rochdale has a Rights of Way Officer in post again.


15 January 2016

The Government Departments, Councils and the Environment Agency are working together to respond to the flooding during the winter of 2015 to 2016 across the North of England, and to help communities recover. Rochdale Council can then bid for government funding to repair any damage caused to footpath surfaces or footpath furniture damaged, or lost, as the result of the flooding over the Christmas 2015 period in the Heywood, Middleton, Pennines or Rochdale Townships of Rochdale MBC. Once reported a member of Rochdale Council's Environmental Management will then go out to inspect and assess the cost of repairing, or reinstating the footpath and its furniture. Rochdale CHA Rambling Club, the Ramblers Association, Rochdale Group and the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society are working together on this project, which will help keep our footpaths in good order.

Rochdale CHA Footpaths Officer has reported the following problems problems as at 18 January 2016. Photographs showing the problems have been submitted:

1. Red Lumb

The surface of the section of RocA Fp36, which lies between Red Lumb Street and the first stile along the way, has suffered from the Christmas inundation and become dangerous to walk along. 

2. Kershaw Bridge

Kershaw Bridge has been swept away by the floods over the Christmas 2015 period.


12 October 2015

A report to the Rochdale CHA Rambling Club committee on 12 October 2015 by Footpaths Secretary John Oliver noted that 19 reports of problems have been submitted to Rochdale's Environmental Department during the last 8 months, plus a report of a problem to Calderdale Council and others to a meeting of the Norden Area Forum and the Rochdale Rights of Way Forum.

There is no further information on the problems reported to Rochdale's Information Department. The problem of a gate and post in very poor condition to Calderdale Council has been resolved by the gate and post  being removed from the footpath The problems reported at the Norden Area Forum and Rochdale Rights of Way Forum concerning a residential development at the Rainshore Mill site which has led to a bridleway surface being ripped up at Overtown Lane, the inappropriate siting of site cabins and heavy commercial vehicles running along Overtown Lane, an assurance has been given by an Officer that the concerns would be addressed. 

John's report also stated that due to a restructuring of Rochdale's Environmental Management department the Countryside Officer has been made redundant, the Enforcement Officers have been reduce from 7 to 4 and the only Office with many years of Rights of Way experience has been promoted to Waste Team Manager.

John also reported that of the 181 paths discovered to be in need of attention after a Rambler's led survey of Rochdale's 1,471 Rights of Way, 195 bridleways and 129 Rupps, none have been attended to. The Rochdale Rights of Way Forum have registered their disappointment with the Management of Rochdale's Environmental Department.


31 May 2013

The role of Rochdale's Rights of Way Officer has now been transferred to the Corporate Enforcement Team which is part of the Council’s Highways Department. There are eight Corporate Enforcement Officers (CEO) who each have a geographical responsibility for dealing with Rights of Way problems and issues in addition to dealing with other problems such as fly tipping, litter, untidy gardens and streetside car sales.

In the six month period to 31 May 2013 John Oliver has reported 21 issues – 1 on surface condition, 11 on  vegetation, 21 regarding stiles, 14 regarding signage and 6 of wilful obstruction. Positive responses to action being taken have been received.

As at 9 December 25 reports about footpath issues have been submitted to Rochdale, Calderdale and Lancashire County Council Environmental and Countryside teams. Most issues have been dealt with promptly.

Update: September 2017.  Rochdale MBC will be appointing an Apprentice Rights of Way Officer, whose training will include Performance Indicators for Rights of Way.  The purpose of which task is to bring the Rights of Way within Rochdale MBC up to a standard whereby they are all available and easy to use e.g. the footpath's signage, width, surface and furniture.  In addition, Rochdale MBC's Public Rights of Way Officer will welcome offers from up to 3 volunteers who would be willing to undergo the same training and work alongside the Apprentice, under the direction of the Rights of Way Officer.

Update:  Julie Simpson is Rochdale MBC's new Rights of Way Officer. 


Problem concerning a handrail on steep steps down to Hayburn Wyke raised by Footpaths Officer John Oliver.

This was reported to Malcolm Hodgson, North Yorks Morrs National Trails Officer on 12 Oct 2014.

Update:  13 Oct 2014 Reply received from Malcolm Hodgson saying handrail would be attended to. 


Action to claim a footpath along the Rochdale Way as a Public Right of Way.

A section of the Rochdale Way which follows Middleton Road over the M62 at Junction 19 then right to Siddal Fold and Langley Lane into Birch, isn’t recorded on Rochdale MBC’s Definitive Map and Statement as a Public Right of Way.

A request was made to Club members for help and information on the footpath. In particular, any maps showing the footpath before the M62 was built between 1971 and 1976 and copies of handwritten or printed walks that use or make reference to the footpath.

Update:  A pre 1971 A-Z atlas showing the path is supporting the action.

Update:  As at May 2014 the matter is still being pursued. An application has been made for a modification order under Section 53(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to modify the Rochdale MBC definitive map. (See 'Highways Authorities Definitive Maps' section below)Update

Update: June 2014. After 18 people submitted evidence of 20 years uninterrupted use as a right of way this application has now been accepted and landowners are being contacted. They are to be given a time frame of 2-3 months to submit evidence for or against the right of way application.

Update: Sept 2014. The landowner has asked for an extension of time to submit his evidence and this has been allowed until 9 November 2014 with a request this be done without delay rather than wait for the deadline. 

Update: Feb 2015. Further evidence has been supplied and Footpaths Officer John Oliver has contacted Rochdale MBC again about the delay in decision making.

Update: Jan 2016.  The Ministry of Transport’s Side Road Order for this footpath has been located.  A meeting is to be arranged for the Claimant and Enforcement Officer to meet together with colleagues in Legal Services, to finalise the next steps and report progress back to the next meeting of the Rochdale Rights of Way Forum.

Update: Dec 2016.  The matter has been collated and progressed through to Legal Services for action.  

Update:  On the 12th of September 2017 Rochdale MBC's Rights of Way Officer wrote to advise John Oliver there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the Claim.  And which Claim the Rights of Way Officer will be reporting to the Middleton Township Committee for approval, on 30 November 2017.  


Problems concerning footpaths in the area bounded by Clegg Hall, Branch Road and Wildhouse Lane were raised by a CHA Club member.

Update: An Enforcement Officer for Milnrow and Newhey accompanied John Oliver in March 2013 which has led to Rochdale MBC agreeing to provide new footpath signs, waymarkers, a new stile, a bridge-style structure over a brook and to require a landowner remove barbed wire from a stile and another landowner to cut back an overhanging hedge.

Update: This section was looked at again by John Oliver on 27 August 2012 and no work seems to have been done. Rochdale MBC Highways Department was contacted again on 3 September 2013.


Problems concerning footpaths in the Rossendale area - Lower Clowes, Irwell Valley, Irwell Vale

Barbed wire around a kissing gate, a footpath collapse and a broken stile were reported to Lancashire County Council's Rights of Way Team on 19 August 2013


Problems concerning Ellenrod Lane section of RocBFp1

A gate difficult to close, poor and overgrown footpath surface, an open drain and a lack of footpath signage were reported on 29 August 2013.

Update: Issue has been investigated. Some items are a private arrangement. A new stile is to replace the blockage. 

Update: After a request for progress an email received 26 Jan 2015 saying work is due to be done but has a low priority. Further photographs were requested and these were supplied on 27 Jan 2015.


Problems concerning the Beal Valley Way were raised by a CHA Club member.

A blocked gate near Belfield Mill and the redundant siting of a waymarker on the Rochdale Canal.

Update: As the section of the Way concerned could not be found on maps a request for information was made to Groundwork (who it was thought laid out the Way around 12 years ) A copy of an out-of-print Beal Valley leaflet was eventually obtained from Terence Cavanagh, Oldham Public Rights of Way Officer via Oldham Council’s Regeneration Department. Officers from the latter were involved in creating the Beal Valley Way as part of the Mersey Basin Campaign in the 1990s. We were informed part of the Way between Derker and Bullcote Lane/Cop Road is ‘still to be finalised as part of the land fill operations and various planning requirements’.


Problems concerning footpaths between Belfield Lane and Headland Hall.

The misalignment of footpath signs, gate and stile obstructions and maintenance concerns were reported to Rochdale MBC Highways Department on 3 September 2013


Problems concerning footpaths between Cronshaw Farm and Clegg Hall.

The requirement for several waymarkers, for obstructions to be cleared and a brook crossing provided were reported to Rochdale MBC Highways Department on 4 September 2013.


Problems concerning a footpath between Clegg Hall and Belfield Mill

Instances of overgrown vegetation and stiles needing attention were reported to Rochdale MBC Highways Department on 6 September 2013.


Problem concerning a missing ginnel post between 12-14 at Broad Acre, Rochdale (RocBFp14)

The missing post meant horse riders were using this footpath. Issue reported to Rochdale MBC Environmental  Management Department on 6 September 2013.

Update: The post was fitted to the ginnel on 11 July 2014.


Problem concerning poor condition of a gate opposite Lomond House, Midgley HX2 6UN

The problem was reported to Calderdale MBC ROW Team  on 4 March 2014.

Update: The issue was resolved on 19 March 2014.


Problem concerning signage and surface of footpath between Farnley Close and Shawfield Lane (RoBFp8)

Request submitted to MBC Environmental Management on 13 March 2014 for footpath to be reinstated between the west side of 16 Farnley Close and Shawfield Lane and for a Public Footpath sign to be provided at junction of Shawfield Lane with Farnley Close. This sign would complete the signage of RocBFp8 from Edenfield Road across Albury Drive, Farnley Close and up Shawfield Lane to White Lees Farm.

Update: 25 March 2014. Southern section of footpath reinstated to a high standard.The surface of the upper part of the section and the installation of the footpath sign is awaiting completion.


Problem concerning a missing signage and a landslip in the Coolham and Inchfield area of Walsden.

Issue raised with Calderdale MBC ROW Team on 26 April 2014.

Update: The problem is in hand for attention after the Tour de France.


Feb 2014: If footpaths are not recorded on the definitive maps by 2026 they may not continue to be defined as rights of way. The Ramblers are working with landowners and councils to come up with plans which will make it easier for paths to be added to the definitive maps.

There is a draft Regulation Bill on Rights of Way being worked on by MPs which will empower the Secretary of State to introduce, for example, 'a simplified procedure for dealing with obvious errors in the definitive map and statement'.

April 2014: Tracking down the definitive map held by Rochdale MBC, which should be available to the public, initially proved difficult but has now been tracked down by John Oliver, Rochdale CHA Rambling Club's Footpaths Secretary. Unfortunately the map has deteriorated and further handling could cause damage. An online version has been removed after software insecurities were identified and this issue is currently being resolved.

June 2014: The Definitive map is now available to view at Rochdale Central Library. To identify footpaths when reporting to Environmental Management the website is to be used.

Sept 2017:  The revision of the 1976 Definitive Map and Statement of Rochdale MBC's 1,800 or so Rights of Way is nearing completion. It's hoped that in addition to becoming available in public libraries, the Definitive Map will be published online.  Rochdale MBC is also due to publish its Rights of Way Improvement Plan for the ten-year period 2017 - 2027.  The chief objective of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan is to maintain, improve and make best use of the existing Rights of Way, which include all of the Public Footpaths, Bridleways and Restricted Byways, within the Borough.  Rochdale MBC does of course comprise of the four Townships of Rochdale, Heywood, Middleton and Pennine.  Two-thirds of Rochdale's area is classed as countryside, most of which is green belt.  The Rochdale CHA Rambling Club is amongst those groups who will be invited to comment upon and contribute to the draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan before it is published.  

Dec 2017:  The revised 40-year old 1976 Definitive Map and Statement of Rochdale’s 1,800 or so rights of way is nearing completion. Rochdale is also due to publish its Rights of Way Improvement Plan for the ten-year period 2017 - 2027.  The chief objective of which will be to maintain, improve and make best use of all of the rights of way within the Borough.  The Rochdale CHA Rambling Club is one of those groups which will be invited to contribute to the draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan for 2017-2027, before it is published. 


Quarterly meetings are held at Rochdale Town Hall. The Forum provides an opportunity for Council Officers and elected members to meet with representatives from the Ramblers Association, the Rochdale CHA Rambling Club, the Peak and Northern Footpath Society, Littleborough Civic Trust, the Rochdale and Bury Bridleways Association and others organisations to share news and views on matters relating to the Rights of Way network, closures, stopping up orders, diversions, planning applications which may have a footpath interest, gating orders, obstructions, enforcement and legal issues.  

Current discussions:  

  • A 15 year project to develop a Roch Valley Trail from Bury to Littleborough.
  • Plans for new linear trails eg from Heap Bridge to Heywood, Queen’s Park to Springfield Park, the development of Mandale Park.
  • Attention had been brought to the need for preventative maintenance of footpaths in Cheesden Valley, Naden and Greenbooth and to landowners’ management of land drainage.

These are advisory Bodies established under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 with the main function being to provide independent advice on the improvement of public access to land in the area for the purposes of open air recreation. The Oldham and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Councils are to be contacted to check if they would like to appoint a new LAF, under joint arrangements with Rochdale, in line with a Rochdale MBC Cabinet decision of 14 September 2009.


Rochdale has the largest Rights of Way network in Greater Manchester with a total of 1,782 paths covering a total distance of 552 km (343 miles). Online maps of footpaths, bridleways etc in the Rochdale MBC area can be found at:

Rochdale MBC, along with other local authorities, has a legal obligation to produce a Definitive Map and Statement of all the Public Rights of Way in the Borough and to produce a Rights of Way Improvement Plan, under section 60 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and to review this plan at least every ten years.

The RoWIP is a ten year plan published in October 2007 which aims to assess the needs and demands of current users of the Public Rights of Way network; to produce a Definitive Map and report on the condition of the network; and, based on that assessment, set out a 10 year vision for the improvement of the network by April 2016.  Three years funding for this plan has been approved from April 2013. Although the RoWIP document is no longer available in hard copy it can be downloaded here:

RoWIP will review, for example, ‘any irregularities between the Definitive Map and accompanying Statement; developments that have taken place resulting in the apparently unlawful loss of a Right of Way; private works that have obstructed or effectively altered the course of the way; and Legal Orders and dedications that have not been recorded on the Map and Statement.’ 

The plan also identifies “Better access for older people and people with disabilities” as one of its key improvements and concern has been raised by John Oliver that the poor condition of many of the stiles he’s visited in the borough lead him to question if Rochdale MBC is following DEFRA’s guidance to local authorities ‘...on meeting their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 - formerly the Disability Discrimination Act – as regards structures, such as stiles and gates, on public rights of way.

The aim is not to require replacement of all existing structures, although programmes to make gradual improvements are to be encouraged, but rather to ensure ‘any new structures introduced impose the least possible hindrance to access’  in the following order of preference – Gap, Gate, Kissing Gate, Stile. See also the raising of this point in connection with the Rochdale Township Green Infrastructure Plan.

Although Rochdale CHA Rambling Club is primarily interested in the maintenance and development of the network of footpaths for walking, there is an awareness of the potential a highly accessible network of footpaths holds in achieving Rochdale’s five Strategic Objectives by 2028 i.e. by helping to deliver “...a more prosperous economy: create successful and healthy communities: improve the design, image and quality of place: promote a greener environment, improve accessibility and deliver sustainable transport.


The plan is to be considered at a meeting of the Rochdale Township Committee and if approved will then go to public consultation for a period of 4-6 weeks.

In connection with this plan, John Oliver has drawn attention to the potential of the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) for 20 mph to be the default speed in built up and residential areas. This will encourage walking and cycling which will in turn increase the health and well being of people of all ages and abilities.

Rochdale CHA Rambling Club has made recommendations for the plan and several of these have been included in the agreed Schedule of Changes to the Rochdale Township Green Infrastructure Action Plan  (RTC GIF REPORT Appendix C - Agenda Item 9)

In particular that:

Rochdale MBC adopt and implement the main recommendations of DEFRA guidance to Local Authorities ‘Authorised Structures’ 

(gaps, gates & stiles) on Rights of Way ‘Good practice guidance for local authorities on compliance with the Equality Act 2010’.  This asks

Local Authorities to consider whether a lawful barrier along a Right of Way might be a gap, gate, kissing gate or stile with consideration

being given not only to the operational needs of landowners but also to people with mobility problems. It was pointed out that the more

restrictive the barrier, the greater the cost. For example, it's cheaper to introduce a gap in a wall or fence than it is to provide a gate, a kissing

gate or a stile.


It was also pointed out that a highly accessible network of footpaths holds great potential in achieving Rochdale’s five Strategic Objectives

by 2028 i.e. by helping to deliver “...a more prosperous economy: create successful and healthy communities: improve the design, image

and quality of place: promote a greener environment, improve accessibility and deliver sustainable transport”.  (Rochdale Publication Core

Strategy – January 2013 pages 19 to 21.  SO1, SO2, SO3, SO4 & SO5)


         Update: A 71 page draft document has been made available for consultation until 2 August 2013 at Rochdale Libraries and online here


Update: At a meeting of the Rochdale Township Committee on 4 September 2013, the final draft of the  Rochdale Township Green Infrastructure Action Plan was up for discussion and approval. John Oliver and club member Ann Beasley attended and John spoke on the points raised above.

The good news is the Rochdale Township Committee noted or agreed withal of the points, in summary: about funding, safeguarding woodland, the impacts of withdrawal of bus services, the challenge of maintaining the existing greenways (rights of way) network, easier and better access to information about the Rights of Way network to encourage its wider use, and the adoption of the DEFRA "Good practice guidance for local authorities on compliance with the Equality Act 2010"

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