Thought I’d share this email I recently sent to the BMC with you, as it could affect anyone who utilizes St. Bees Head…
“First up, as I'm sure you are aware St. Bees becomes evermore popular as the years roll on (partially my fault I guess), and with the increased footfall and year-round visitors the descents are taking increasing hammer, to the point where the base of the central, and most used access point, is crumbling into the sea, becoming a) an eyesore and b) slightly dangerous - the last section does not have an insitu 'confidence rope'. The upper sections are also becoming quite worn, with the original vague trail becoming an obvious muddy track with a couple of deviations off the main path. A possible solution is perhaps to close this off through the winter months (when it is at its most fragile) and ask users to use the slightly longer but easier northern descent or the more 'adventurous' southern descent at the Fisherman's Steps?
The second issue is something that is probably beyond your control but I thought it was worth bringing to your attention, as it could in future cause access problems, if and when the RSPB catch wind of it. In a nut shell the fisherman who use the headland are generally complete arse holes! They persist on leaving copious amounts of litter and various other junk - plastic bags, large towels covered in fish guts, bags of semi-defrosted bait, teabags, crisp packets, sandwich rappers, fishing line, etc etc. - on the headland after their sessions, allowing it to be washed into the sea when the tide comes in. I do not over exaggerate when I say it is pretty much every fisherman I have ever seen on the headland, whether at the north or south head. If you want further details I can furnish you with numerous anecdotes of leaving the crag with my crash pad full of bags of THEIR rubbish which I have removed. Fortunately, whilst this is a fairly big problem on the southern head, there is still fairly low numbers prepared to handle the more arduous descent into the northern head, although it does seem as though numbers are increasing – there were 6 guys there last Sunday.”
I had a positive response from the BMC. With regards to the erosion issue: there are few obvious solutions tabled and this will be discussed at the next BMC “Lakes Area Meet”, so if anyone has any views on this please feel free to attend and give your input. Regarding the fishermen and their rubbish issue: there’s not a great deal we, as climbers, can do about this other than take anything you can away and dispose of it properly. Not our job I know, but it may help alleviate any future access issues.