The Blackamoor bridleway that runs down from the Stoney Ridge car park parallel with the Hathersage Road has been the subject of a winter closure for horses and cycles for the last two years. Although the winter ban was a vital experiment, in many ways it has proved to be a blunt instrument that has at times verged on illogical. For example, during March when the trail was bone dry, we were prevented from riding on it. Now, with the April showers in full swing, we are able to ride it again even though it’s a bog. Having monitored the situation, the Sheffield Wildlife Trust and the Sheffield Rights of Way Team have noticed the inconsistency and decided to trial all year round use as from next winter.
Ride Sheffield received the following update from Sam Beaton:
We now have an extensive set of photos from the winter period to see how the path has fared without bikes or horses on it.
This means we are now in a position to experiment next winter with keeping the path open to cyclists and horse riders to see how it goes. Until now, we have not had the information needed to conduct a fair experiment, but the photos from this winter will be
invaluable in deciding if the wear and tear of the path by bikes and horses next winter is a significant problem.
Sheffield Wildlife Trust has agreed that if the path becomes too muddy over next winter as a result of use by bikes and/or horses, they will take the necessary action, after consultation with us, to either repair the path and/or temporarily shut it again. If the path surface does suffer badly next winter, we may well decide that we would like to revert to the current permissive arrangement, i.e. only open to bikes and horses between April 1 and November 30.
This is an essential caveat from our point of view, as both highway authority and landowner, because one of our main concerns is to keep the path in a reasonable condition for walkers as its legal designation is just public FP.
The question for mountain bikers has to be, when do we ride the trail? In the depths of winter when it’s frozen solid or in high summer, it’s an ideal method of accessing Piper House Gate and Devil’s Elbow. After prolonged rain however, it might be worth the discerning rider using an alternative rather than cutting up an excellent piece of singletrack.