Trail maintenance. Dig days. Shovel-wielding. Often called different things, our volunteers are working hard across the Peak District to make sure the trails you ride are kept in good condition. Why?
The rights of way network we ride doesn’t maintain itself. Drains get blocked, rarely-used trails get overgrown, popular trails get worn out. If no maintenance is done, the network of routes we enjoy can soon get into a state of disrepair.
“I enjoy riding bumpy trails – why do we need maintenance?”
It’s a fair question. As mountain bikers we enjoy a pastime that has largely grown out of riding rough trails. Indeed the Rough-Stuff Fellowship have been “traversing the rougher ways” for over 60 years. Whilst those ‘rougher ways’ may not need the same level of maintenance as a smooth tarmac road, they can and do suffer from the worst the elements can throw at them, and of course the passage of wheels, hooves and feet. Without maintenance we’d soon be riding through more-and-more trails with axle-deep puddles, slogging through gloopy mud, cursing up baby-head-boulder-strewn hike-a-bikes* and – frankly – not enjoying our beloved pastime as much as we’d like (*OK, so I confess to knowing at least one person who enjoys baby-head-boulder-strewn hike-a-bike!).
As a great example, the permissive bridleway above Gradbach Woods on the Roaches Estate in the Staffordshire Moorlands has been a 70m long puddle for huge parts of the year. The photo below was taken in December 2016 before our volunteers started working on the Roaches and has meant that – for years – walkers, horse riders and cyclists have been forging new, unsightly paths through the higher moorland.
Our volunteers have done a huge amount of work with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to reinstate this original line, including removing the rushes, building numerous drains, carting up tonnes of local material to build up the levels and even a spot of drystone walling! After this weekend’s heavy rains I went to have a look how this renovated permissive bridleway was holding up and was really pleased – and proud – of what our volunteers have achieved. Whilst many of the other paths in the area had cascades of run-off water and deep puddles, the permissive bridleway we’ve been working on was remarkably dry.
It’s not all digging drains. Our trail maintenance crew also get creative with building new and better lines as they’ve done on the Peak District MTB line on Whinstone Lee Tor. This great piece of work reinstated the original right of way to protect the moorland, but in a way that made the trail much more interesting to ride. Check out our little film here to see what goes on.
I’m sure our volunteers will agree it’s incredibly rewarding work. Until I got involved with trail maintenance I had no idea quite how much goes into keeping the rights of way network in good shape for us mountain bikers, walkers and horse riders. There’s loads of amazing volunteers making this happen across the Peak. Thanks so much to all of them.
Get in touch if you want to get involved by emailing us.