There’s nothing I like more than an energetic dig day, but sitting in the car park on Blackamoor with the wind howling like a banshee, my enthusiasm hit a low ebb. For one delicious moment I wondered if I was going to get away with it and that no one would turn up but I was ignoring Ride Sheffield volunteers’ well known hardiness. At the appointed hour the cars rolled up and the team assembled wearing a who’s who of outdoor clothing manufacturers kit. When the Eastern Moors Partnership team turned up bursting with enthusiasm, I knew the game was up.
Thankfully, the weather steadily improved during the morning. After a wet night, the last thing we needed on the trail was more rain. Wimble Holme Hill is known by some as the goat track and its steep sides make maintenance a tough prospect. One team spent the day struggling for purchase on the saturated slopes trying to buttress a section of the path that is prone to landslip. Others filled ruts while an energetic team of barrow pushers began to bring in aggregate and a ribbon of gritstone soon began to snake its way up the hill.
For me, the most heartening part of the day was listening to Danny Udall from the Eastern Moors Partnership explain how low impact maintenance is the new standard for land managers like him. To be honest, Danny’s been ahead of the game on this front and it’s more a case of bodies like Natural England catching up with him, but the current feeling is that trail maintenance should be minimal, low impact and as natural as possible, exactly what mountain bikers have been asking for all along.
Danny and his team aim to achieve just that on Wimble Holme Hill. The path will have to be somewhat engineered in places to deal with steep ground but, for the most part, it will be narrow, winding and undulating. I guess there’s a word for that……oh yeah, singletrack.
So, thanks to all those who turned up in spite of the weather, for the hard work and the good humour. Trail maintenance is the yin to biking’s yang, the hard work that lets us continue to enjoy this brilliant landscape.