Ho hum, another day, another meeting, but a good ‘un! Under the guidance of the Peak District National Park Authority, the Peak District Cycle Strategy has been taking shape over the last year or so. It was recognised recently that mountain biking lacked a serious plan within the strategy, leading to the latest meeting of the mountain biking sub-group at Longshaw Estate.
Present were a diverse bunch of mad-keen mountain bikers determined to see their favourite pastime get the recognition it deserves. Attendees included Paul Richardson of Peak District MTB, Adge Last (father of the considerably more famous Annie), Dan Cook of the CTC, National Trust big cheese Jon Stewart, Nick Chamberlain of British Cycling and Mike Rhodes of the Peak District National Authority.
Pretty impressive company for Ride Sheffield to be keeping and the level of debate lived up to expectations. The most important starting point for any strategy is to make sure we protect the trails that make the Peak District such a unique place to ride. Ride Sheffield reported back on the meeting with Derbyshire County Council following the Rushup Edge fiasco and emphasised that the biggest danger to Peak mountain biking may be from local authorities and land managers who, for whatever reason, see fit to flatten our trails.
This expanded into a discussion about a number of issues that relate to trail maintenance – liability, access for all and the inevitable Section 56 of the Countryside Act. Fortunately, Ride Sheffield were able to give excellent examples of working with land managers on the Eastern Moors and Longshaw, and reaching solutions that suit all users. Giving these success stories more publicity may help to persuade DCC and others that there is a better way to manage our trail network.
It was recognised that the Peak District is not a trail centre and doesn’t have the signs that could direct aspirant riders to easier trails. It was suggested that such information could be made available through other means such as maps on smart phones and that keeping signs to a minimum in a national park was to be encouraged. The forthcoming Lady Canning’s trails were cited as an example of what can be achieved when local riders and local businesses pull together and there was some discussion about other relatively small sites where trails could be built. It was felt that a full trail centre with the inevitable infrastructure and parking may not be applicable to the Peak District.
The process is ongoing and further meetings are planned where specific plans and aspirations will be examined. Watch this space….