Ripon residents urged to protect city's most treasured beauty spots

Coun Stuart Martin with the Ripon Lions on the Fairy Steps.
Coun Stuart Martin with the Ripon Lions on the Fairy Steps.

Admirers of Ripon’s most celebrated beauty spots are being urged to attend a public meeting calling for their protection.

Following an overwhelming response to the launch of an appeal by Ripon City Councillor Stuart Martin in January, which called for readers to support the restoration of the deteriorating Fairy Steps near the Rustic Bridge, city residents now have the chance to come along to the meeting and help form a ‘Friends of Hell Wath’ group.

Members will be able to tackle important issues in the area, including the Fairy Steps, and have a say in preserving Ripon’s natural beauty for future generations.

The meeting will be held at the Golden Lion on June 29 at 7pm.

Coun Martin said: “I think it is particularly important in this day and age that people take ownership of the area they live in. Councils play an important part, but it is also very important that people take responsibility in keeping their own area tidy.”

Coun Martin was contacted by a resident who was concerned about the condition of the Fairy Steps, which continues to serve the district as a popular walking route steeped in historical significance - being used as far back as the First World War.

It is not the first time that residents have emphasised the importance of protecting the steps from floodwater.

In 2008 we published a letter from a reader which said: "“My main concern is the state of the area around the Fairy Steps, the erosion is putting the whole structure at risk.

"These Steps are of national historical importance, reconstructed by the Army during the First World War to enable horse-drawn field guns to be deployed on the higher ground of Hell Wath Common.

“I believe this structure stands as a memorial to all those soldiers who trained in Ripon and did not return to their homes after the horrors of the trenches.”

Committed to preserving the Steps and other beauty spots in the Hell Wath area, Coun Martin is eager to work with local residents to address local conservation issues, and is already working alongside a ranger and officers at Harrogate Borough Council

He said: “I would really like to formalise a group and secure a bank of volunteers to help in a number of ways. People can get involved in anything from cleaning up these areas, to helping look for new support and funding.

“I think people like the Fairy Steps because it is a nice open space. It’s a place where people can have a bit of solitude and exercise their animals.

“It’s a nice atmosphere for people to play in, it’s a very beautiful area for people to sit by the river, and I remember taking my children up there to have picnics.”

The Ripon East Girlguides are among a number of local groups who have already pledged their support for the Fairy Steps, and will be running a day of fairy-themed activities on June 17 at High Cleugh, from 2pm to 4pm, to raise money for the popular beauty spot and continue to raise the profile of the work needed to protect the steps.

The Ripon Lions have also donated £500 to support the Steps.

To find out more about the public meeting, or to offer support for the restoration of the Fairy Steps, call Coun Martin on 07811 390448, or email: bigstu.martin@virgin.net.