Sir, - I refer to Mr R McCarthy's letter "A mismanaged beauty spot" (D&S, Feb 23).

As manager of Catterick lakes, which is private property with no public right of way, I have welcomed visitors providing they observe the rules of the Leeds and District Amalgamated Society of Anglers. Visitors enjoy a privilege not afforded to members in that members are not allowed to bring dogs on the fishery.

In 1982, as chairman of the fisheries management committee, I had the job of turning what was a quarry into a fishery and all of the trees now thriving in the lake area were planted by my landscape company and yes, Mr McCarthy, mother nature may have played a part but you should have seen it when she had it on her own.

My wife and I visited the site in 1999 to find all of the paths and roads completely overgrown and accessible only in single file. My wife Barbara set to with an industrial strimmer and cleared all the roads and paths and built bridges across the stream.

We have used a wild flower seed mix on disturbed areas costing £85 per kg and a proposed planting scheme will add some variety to the existing species of willow, alder and gorse. The recent floods have caused much damage to the roads and pallets used as angling stands floated away. There is an abundance of wild life on the site. The way others observe them however is not with a dog, green wellies and an orange anorak, but to sit for hours with rod in hand in quiet repose and let nature entertain, as it surely will.

I apologise for my actions regarding the issue of gorse in the 18-acre field but I had received a complaint that it was restricting access. However when local people objected I cancelled the work.

In my defence I used the word "control" not eradicate. I am always available to listen to the views of members and visitors which includes Mr McCarthy, however perhaps he would join me in collecting the litter blown over from Catterick market each week and clear the excrement left by visitors' dogs.

He may also like to pay the £34 membership fee, but then of course he would have to leave his dog at home. His letter could result in access being restricted to members only, something I will do everything in my power to prevent.


Catterick complex,

Swale Lane,

Catterick Village.

Rail points

Sir, - Douglas Punchard (D&S letters, Feb 23) has his concepts and principles right, but some of his facts wrong. The Wensleydale line closed to passengers between Northallerton and Hawes from Monday, April 26, 1954 and between Hawes and Garsdale on March 16, 1959, leaving the Leyburn parcels to run for a few years, and the Hawes goods serving the dale until April 1964. Freight facilities, other than the stone trains, lingered on east of Redmire variously until 1982.

The closures following Dr Beechings rationalisation plans - not Beecham, the conductor died in 1961 - did not start until late 1963, early 1964. In the late 1960s Government insisted in a number of cases that the trackbed of closed railway lines, and, in some instances the track itself, should remain the property of the BRB and not revert to non-railway use.

This was usually determined because of potential as a railway or transport "corridor" in the future or where local authorities and/or residential groupings put forward a strong and well argued case for retention. Sadly, this did not happen in upper Wensleydale.

Hope now rests with the plans to bring the remaining line from Northallerton to Redmire back to passenger life, and with the growing realisation that to re-connect Hawes and Garsdale - and thence to the West Riding, Manchester and Scotland via the Settle and Carlisle - is an eminently sensible next step.

The ability to achieve a non-car access to Hawes from major centres of population and at the same time to benefit the financial bottom line of the Settle and Carlisle must be an objective worth striving for.


Chestnut Garth,

West Witton.

Town's disgrace

Sir, - The state of pavements and the market place in Leyburn during the recent snow and ice has been a disgrace to those responsible for any central market town.

The neglect of so called minor roads in our villages has also been totally unacceptable. Is this because of new local government structures? Or of European Commission directives about which we are unaware?

Or is it that in local government we have got new and too many chiefs and too few Indians?

In our age, when it is sometimes unwise to ask questions, I am now fortunately of an age to ignore the consequences. Just what is the truth please?