For most Sheffield MBers, the Peak District’s moorland is sacred ground for the brilliance of the riding but it’s also an internationally important eco-system and the Sheffield Moors Partnership (SMP) has been formed to ensure that it is managed as well as possible. The partnership consists of all the land managers who look after this special land including the National Trust/RSPB, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Peak District National Park Authority and Sheffield City Council. The SMP has now concluded its long running consultation process, produced a draft masterplan and responded to the comments that plan has generated.
It’s a big document, available here
I’ve had a good look through and I think the news for mountain bikers is, on the whole, pretty positive. Land managers now regard Ride Sheffield as their first port of call if an issue involves mountain biking and that is recognised in the document. Furthermore, our aspiration for a more extensive and better connected network of bridleways is also mentioned several times.
One comment in particular caught my eye for it’s positive slant:
That the masterplan takes the real and potential conflict between different user groups more seriously, and encourages more mutual understanding.
The SMP response is well judged:
Whilst the Sheffield Moors Partnership recognises that conflicts can occur, our view is that perceptions of conflict are probably higher than the reality.
At a strategic level the two Local Access Forums for the Peak District and Sheffield encourage mutual understanding and conflict resolution between different user groups. This is complimented by other forums that bring together representatives from access, wildlife and archaeological groups such as the Stanage Forum and the Eastern Moors Stakeholder Forum.
Which is heartening stuff. Ride Sheffield’s continuing engagement with land-managers and other user groups can only help in this process.
It’s important to take lessons from a process such as this, even if it makes us take an uncomfortable look in the mirror. There are a number of derogatory comments about the impact of mountain biking and it is important that we do all we can to render such comments redundant. Every time you head out on the trail, think what you can do to reduce your impact and foster good relationships with other users.
Equally, improving still further our relationships with land managers is a priority. We have recently been asked to avoid a particular trail on Blackamoor and complying with such requests is crucial.
The SMP is in its early stages and shows every sign of having at its heart a progressive attitude to mountain biking and recreation in general. However, that doesn’t absolve us from keeping a close eye on future developments. Ride Sheffield will be doing its best to ensure that any developments in the bridleway network are as bike friendly as possible and that the blight of the ‘two metre wide crushed gritstone path’ doesn’t become an epidemic.