Above: Memorial benches provide places to rest and take in the wonderful views. So why does UU no longer allow them?
I often receive messages from people asking how they could go about installing a bench or a plaque in memory of a loved one in the Goyt Valley. Sheridan wrote recently to say:
My nanna sadly passed away recently. She loved coming to the Goyt Valley. Her first son died at 13 years old and he would come here with my nanna and say it was heaven on earth. I have grown up coming here and have many memories. Most recently, it would be me driving my nana through the Goyt Valley. It would be so meaningful to be able to put a plaque somewhere.. for her and my uncle.. I was wondering how I’d go about this and who I’d contact?
I explain that I don’t have anything to do with the management of the valley. And tell them that unfortunately the land-owners, United Utilities, no longer give their permission. Which I think is a great pity as I’d quite like to leave a bench myself.
The most recent bench I’ve seen is dated 2017, and there may be later ones. I haven’t been able to discover why UU have changed their policy.* But it does give the impression that the company doesn’t have much respect for the many people who visit the valley, and would rather we all stayed away.
Another example of how little the company cares for visitors is the absence of public toilets. There were some at the bottom of the Bunsal Incline (above), but the Gents was demolished some years ago and the Ladies has been locked and out of order for a similar period.
Notices have appeared at the main carpark which may signify that parking charges will soon be introduced. If that’s going to happen, the very least UU could do is provide toilets. I doubt they’d cost much more than the hideous eyesore they’ve recently installed along the bridge near Errwood Hall carpark.
I assume the fencing is to prevent anyone from leaping off into the reservoir. But since the bridge has been there since Errwood was flooded over 50 years ago, and as far as I know no one has drowned or been injured by making the jump, it does seem like health and safety gone mad.
Sorry for the moan. But I do think United Utilities could do far more to improve facilities for visitors. Especially if they are going to introduce parking charges.
*UU recently removed a memorial bench without telling the family, explaining that there was an over-hanging branch which could have dropped on unwary sitters. The more obvious solution would have been to cut down the branch. Since there are so many trees in the valley, I wonder whether health and safety is the reason they no longer seem to encourage visitors.
Page update: 24th April 2023: The situation with discarded poop bags littering the footpaths is getting significantly worse. I think there are only two waste bins in the valley – both at the northern end of Fernilee Reservoir. And both were overflowing when I went that way this morning. It’s only going to get worse as the weather improves and more people visit.