North America Bridleway works
As part of our involvement on the Cut Gate Mend our Mountains project, we’ve been included by Moors for the Future in site meetings and discussions around repair works to the North America bridleway. Apologies for not getting updates out sooner, things haven’t quite gone to plan…
The works on North America should have run concurrently with the planned drainage work on Cut Gate, but landowner permissions didn’t happen in time for Cut Gate works to begin. We’ll update on that when we know more.
Weather delayed the start of the North America works, setting a precedent for what would prove to be a battle against both weather and time. The landowner/estate insisted on the contractor being off site mid March, so it was a bit of a battle to get done what they could.
We were invited to a couple of site visits, both early on and towards the end of the works. It may take some remembering, but back in February and March the weather was much much wetter. It didn’t make for the most pleasant site visits – I was envious of the machinery and tools, but I didn’t envy them working on a cold exposed hilltop in Winter!
The work on North America is much more intrusive than that planned for Cut Gate – with new build track for much of the section. This has been made by digging alongside the bridleway route for material, making sure that no materials need to be imported to site.
Terra Firma began work at the North end of the track, knowing that this was likely where the poorer quality material would be. Their suspicions were proved correct, with high clay content. The contrast between this first section and the next bit they worked on was quite stark – the second section had dried and begun to bed in, while the clay stayed soft. The plan was to return to the lower section with material from further up the hill, where the higher mineral content was obvious.
Further up the track towards Cut Gate, the bigger work has been on drainage – with stone lined gulleys taking water off and down the hill. Water management is absolutely vital in path repairs, so we see this making a huge difference over time. The crossings have been sensibly designed, without too much gradient either side, rather a wider/smoother dip.
Much of the reason for the repairs is moorland restoration – bringing back the natural habitat. Now we have a narrower, sustainable track, the heather should recover and hide the braiding and erosion from before. Terra Firma also spread heather brash and seed to encourage this and hide the tracks from their machinery.
Wet weather and even snow meant several missed days for the contractor, on top of the delayed start. This means that the works aren’t yet complete, so are likely to be rolled in with the start of the drainage work on Cut Gate.
The works may come as something of a shock to people, but as we mentioned before – given time for the vegatation to grow back, the track to weather a little and at least a few freeze/thaw cycles – we’ll soon have another year round option to include in our Langsett/Cut Gate rides. We now see North America as a climb option too, opening out different choices for a loop at the end of an out and back ride of Cut Gate.
The clay section in particular will need more work, we’re discussing this with Moors for the Future. Once we have more news on this and Cut Gate, we’ll update you all again.
As ever, any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org