Closure of forest drive is a retrograde step for visitors

From: Michael Booth, The Birches, Bramhope, Leeds.

I was most disappointed to read in the Yorkshire Post (November 14) that the Forestry Commission has permanently closed the forest drive from Levisham Station to Stape.

I have always believed the Commission to be keen to attract the public to their estates: one only has to visit Dalby Forest to see the expense it has been incurred there with that in view and yet now I read just the opposite in Newtondale.

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The District Forester speaks of consultations with the owners and occupants of the few houses on that drive and surprise, surprise, they are generally in favour of its closure.

A classic case of NIMBYism, I suggest. In further attempts to justify the action, that gentleman speaks of the great damage caused to the road surface by land slips, thus rendering it difficult to navigate.

What unadulterated rubbish! Anyone who drives along that road will know that the worst road surface is on the last mile when heading towards Stape.

The road there is horizontal, well over the hilltop and no landslip is possible.

One just drives slowly to avoid potholes. Quite rightly the District Forester states that due the the presence of the North Yorkshire Moors railway there is good access for walkers from either Levisham or Newtondale Halt.

He forgets that some visitors to the dale are too old to cope with those hills, but still get a tremendous amount of enjoyment from the car.

I am now nearing 80 but I drive along that road quite easily five to six times each year.

I used to walk, but that is, alas, too much for me now, but until now I have been able to get my enjoyment by car.

Apparently the aim of this closure is to “restore tranquillity” and enable walkers and riders to enjoy the peace and quiet, “without the roar of passing motor traffic”.

Has the District Forester got his forests mixed up. More often than not whenever I travel that route I see one or maybe two motor vehicles at most, he makes it sound like the M1.

Now if he was speaking of Dalby Forest I might agree with him – scores of cars, motor rallies and world class mountain biking.

All his comments make sense with regard to Dalby Forest, but certainly not Newtondale.

I feel it is a great shame that such a lovely afternoon drive has been taken away from the older generation, and efforts to justify the closure supported by such weak excuses.