‘Total bedlam’ - visitors slammed for blighting Gaddings Dam beauty spot

Roy Sefton owner of the Shepherds Rest Inn, Lumbutts, with Coun Janet Battye.
Roy Sefton owner of the Shepherds Rest Inn, Lumbutts, with Coun Janet Battye.

There are calls for visitors to Gaddings Dam to be more considerate after scenes of “total bedlam” during the recent spell of hot weather.

The Lumbutts beauty spot, often said to be Britain’s highest beach, is a huge pull for sun-seekers when temperatures soar.

But concerned residents have hit out at the hordes of visitors who have been leaving litter and parking inconsiderately.

Roy Sefton, owner of The Shepherd’s Rest Inn, Lumbutts, said the situation came to a head on Father’s Day when crowds flocked to the dam to make the most of its secluded beach.

He said: “It was total bedlam. The infrastructure cannot sustain that amount of people.”

Todmorden town councillor and resident Janet Battye said she was “disappointed” by the apparent lack of care from visitors.

She said: “They’ve been parking on Lumbutts Road without caring for the impact on local people - the bus couldn’t get through, local farmers couldn’t get to their stock and apparently the police couldn’t even get through.

“This is an important road for people to get from Todmorden to Lumbutts, Mankinholes and the surrounding area, as well as to the hilltop pubs.

“In an area that’s usually quiet and peaceful, there’s litter along the roadside.

“People need to act more considerately and we’re also calling on the council and the police to consider what action they can take.”

The not-for-profit Gaddings Dam Preservation Company owns and maintains the spot and was set up to preserve it as a heritage site and amenity for the public.

In a statement issued through Facebook, the group said: “On Sunday afternoon we counted about 460 people around the dam, enjoying a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

“There’s been little in the way of damage and less litter than expected. We acknowledge the help of several volunteers who have taken it upon themselves to clear up after the minority of visitors who failed to take away their rubbish.

“Unfortunately, inconsiderate parking on Lumbutts road has created a considerable nuisance for the residents there, interfering with bus services and making it difficult for locals to get in or out along a virtually grid-locked Lumbutts Road.

“The major problem seems to be cars parked west of the Shepherd’s along the straight section of Lumbutts Road. This leaves the road too narrow for vehicles to pass oncoming traffic. Cars parked on the bend by the Shepherd’s are creating a hazard, and cars parked opposite the gates, east of the bend, are restricting access to homes and farms.

“It is clear that visitors can’t all be relied upon to park safely and considerately and we are approaching the highways authority to see if they can put in some sensible parking restrictions as a matter of urgency, in view of the obvious obstruction to emergency vehicles and increased risk of accident.

“There appears to be no immediate prospects of opening up a new parking area but perhaps something can be done in the long term.

“It should be noted that not all the visitors are heading to Gaddings. There was one day last week with cars parked all the way from the Shepherd’s down to Carr Green but there was hardly anyone at the dam. It was a blustery day and people were going off for hikes. Lumbutts Road is becoming a popular launching off point for access to the hills.”

Calderdale Council has urged all those visiting to behave responsibly.

Councillor Susan Press, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and communities, said: “We’ve been in touch with the Gaddings Dam Preservation Company who own the site, and due to the increase in visitors we will be emptying the bins more frequently.

“We are also aware of the parking near the site and as always, we ask people to park responsibly.

“We are investigating the feasibility of providing signage or parking restrictions, but please be aware that parking in such a way as to cause an obstruction is a hazard and is a matter for the police.

“Calderdale’s countryside is a lovely place to visit, particularly in warm weather, but we ask all visitors to open water sites to be mindful of the potential dangers of swimming - however inviting the water may seem. “