Sychryd Gorge – Waterfall Jump Access Update

NB the message below reflects a change to the advice currently presented in SWOAPG’s Code of Conduct training regarding access to the ‘waterfall jump’ on the Sychryd. We’ll be updating our training to reflect this new advice in due course.

As we have advised previously, there has been recent tension regarding use of the top waterfall / double pools jump site in the Sychryd gorge, following reports from the new landowner of antisocial and disrespectful behaviour by gorge-walkers. It is up to individual Providers to take a view on how you continue to use the top waterfall but you should be aware of the implications as outlined below.

SWOAPG Directors recently met with the landowner, Mr Ferguson, to better understand his concerns (Mr Ferguson only owns part of the river-left bank; specifically the land at the top two pools. We understand that the previous landowner still owns the other land on river-left, over which access has been disputed in the past – and we have no reason to believe that this position has changed).

Mr Ferguson made clear that he considers anywhere beyond the centre of the river to be his land, although he indicated that he would not contest groups staying in the actual watercourse, which he considers to be standing in the water. His main concern is the use of his land for commercial gain, with no benefit to him. He did not express concerns over liability, although he considers that Providers must have adequate insurance covering the activity which they would not wish to risk losing by trespassing.

He agreed that he did not consider school / youth groups and small family groups to be ‘commercial use’ and he does not want to be seen to limit or take away the valuable experiences of such users. He agreed that these groups may therefore continue to crawl through the waterfall and jump from river-left.

However, for adult groups not falling within the above categories, Mr Ferguson would be seeking payment of £10 per person to continue to crawl through the waterfall to jump from river-left. While he recognises that Providers need to make a living, he considers that the prices which he understands are charged for adult groups exceed this level and are in his eyes purely ‘commercial’.

Although we discussed other commercial opportunities for which he could alternatively gain benefit, such as parking, toilets and changing, these were not of interest to him.

Moving forward:

  1. All SWOAPG members (except any companies who have been notified individually) will be regarded by the owner as having a ‘clean slate’ as of this meeting.
  2. Please continue to use the gorge respectfully and follow the Concordat, to avoid the risk of further conflict.
  3. Providers may continue to use freely the river-right, up to the centre line of the waterfall.
  4. It is up to individual Providers to decide whether to crawl through the waterfall to access the river-left jump site on the top pool; remembering that should you wish to do so, and the owner considers you to be ‘commercial’, you will be requested to pay for the privilege.
  5. If you are bringing non-commercial groups into the gorge, you and your instructors should be aware of this arrangement and be prepared to discuss the nature of your group with the landowner or his representative.
  6. Providers will be treated by the landowner on a case-by-case basis, and may have legal action taken against them if they continue to use river-left without entering an agreement to pay for use. If you wish to enter into an agreement with the land owner, you are invited to contact him directly. His contact details can be provided by SWOAPG on request.

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