Paper Monitor: The Lake District vigilantes

  • 3 May 2013

The warnings couldn't be clearer - there has been an outbreak of civil unrest in the Lake District.

The area is "not best known as a battleground" points out i, nor is it "a traditional hotbed of British social and political activism".

Over in the Daily Telegraph there is a warning that visitors should "watch out" for vigilantes.

And offering some much needed analysis, the Times says that the issue is "threatening to split" a community.

But wait, what is this all about? With a bank holiday approaching Paper Monitor is alarmed on behalf of all those planning a visit.

Oh, of course, it's a disagreement over dry-tooling.

A group calling itself the People's Climbing Front of the Lake District has been sabotaging equipment used by people who take part in the activity.

Paper Monitor doesn't spend as much time hanging from cliff faces as it probably should, but understands that it's all about using ice axes and crampons on bare rock instead of icy precipices.

Participants use it as training for winter climbing, critics say it damages the "naked" rock.

So, at a disused quarry near Coniston, the "protesters abseiled in with bolt cutters to carry out their work, or climbed the face armed with hacksaws" and got to work on the safety bolts and clips left in situ by the dry-toolers (if that is a term).

It is not a happy state of affairs.

Speaking out against the activists in i, professional climber Alan Hinkes says: "It's a shadowy thing to do, because they are not saying who they are, which is vigilantism in one way."

Others have called the action "petty vandalism by purists".

Meanwhile, the British Mountaineering Council has called for dialogue, says the Telegraph.

It all sounds very stressful.

But, whatever the rights and wrongs of it all, Paper Monitor is pleased that it's unlikely to be directly affected.

Time for a nice, quiet stroll.