Many moons ago, I rode the Strines Inn Bridleway that runs up to Derwent Edge. I remember it being a rocky, rutty, technical nightmare which, true to form deposited me on my arse at one point.
Fast forward ten years and I rode it again and suffered one of those “I know I’m getting on but surely my memory hasn’t turned to mush yet” moments. Largely smooth and spongily peaty, I wondered if I’d happened upon an entirely different path.
Which, in a sense, I had.
This morning, I attended a meeting convened by Peak District National Park Access Manager and good friend of Ride Sheffield, Mike Rhodes, on the very same bridleway. It soon became obvious why the current state of the bridleway didn’t fit my memories of that original ride. Over the years, it has migrated from the original rocky, rutty horror as a variety of users have tried to find a less challenging path.
As a result the path is now close to forty feet wide in places and the original definitive line has returned to nature. The peat on the new line has been denuded of vegetation and water draining off the moors has begun to erode deep channels.
Hence the forthcoming maintenance works we were discussing, (at great length!). Mountain bikers, rightly, have a jaundiced view of what sometimes constitutes ‘bridleway maintenance’ but, on this occasion, I think there’s room for optimism. The contract is going to be carried out by Terra Firma, the same company that did excellent work on The Roych. Also, Derbyshire County Council aren’t involved.
The area that has been so badly eroded will be renovated using a variety of techniques including spreading heather brashings and using cotton grass and heather plugs to help the natural flora to re-establish.
The original line of the bridleway is pretty straight but the contractors have undertaken to make it as sinuous as possible and to use bedrock and stone wherever possible to give it a distinctive Peak character. There will also be some stone-pitching a la Roych – good news.
Keep an eye out for the contractors when work commences. They will be redirecting users onto the original line and away from the area that is to be renovated. Some are mountain bikers so make sure you have a chat as you go past. Keep ’em sweet….