Merry Christmas from Peak District MTB

As 2021 draws to an end we wanted to wish our members and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. As we say goodbye to another challenging year, it’s good to reflect on the positive stuff we’ve been getting up to.

As expected Covid has had a real impact on mountain biking and the activities which we have been able to undertake. Our ongoing dialogue and work with key stakeholders and landowners throughout the Peak District has continued, and we hope those discussions will lead to more access in the future. In May we had the official opening of the Elmin Pitts trail which continues to receive very positive feedback from multiple user groups. More importantly it’s an example of how our long-nurtured relationship with Severn Trent Water and Peak District National Park has resulted in more access. Further routes and areas are being explored to increase access within the Upper Derwent Valley estate in 2022.

Trail Maintenance

Trail maintenance is a key to the enjoyment of the trails within the Peak District, but was on hold for the first few months of the year due to COVID-related restrictions. We started work again in May on the Roaches estate in the Staffordshire Moorlands, with our volunteers providing 159 volunteer hours maintaining trails throughout 2021 . Our work focused on ensuring drains were cleared and working successfully, re-instating some old water bars and removing ‘desire lines’ where the trail had braided. More recently we had a good session at the top of Gradbach Woods tackling the perpetual winter boggy section.

Many thanks to the 21 mountain bikers who gave their time to undertake this work on Elmin Pitts with us, clocking up around 181 volunteer hours early on in the year. Volunteers re-started work in the Derwent and Hope Valley areas towards the back end of the year, with regular sessions lined up for 2022. We’ll soon be sharing a little video of our trail maintenance activity, and look forward to seeing our volunteers again in the New Year.

Thanks go to all volunteers who given their time and effort to support this activity.  The result of the work has received very positive feedback from different user groups and land managers. If you want to get involved, please get in touch.

Wild Trails Webinar

Peak District MTB were invited to provide a mountain bikers perspective about “wild trails” to the Institute of Chartered Foresters (IoCF).  As one can imagine there were some challenging questions around the impact of wild trails (off piste / unofficial trails).  We were very encouraged by the feedback from the IoCF and look to take part in their next webinar.  This is another great example of relationship-building which is such an important part of MTB advocacy. Check out our Wild Trails Webinar story from July here.

Macclesfield Forest

United Utilities maintain a number of areas of forestry to the western edge of the Peak District notably the Goyt Valley and the Macclesfield Forest.  The activities of a small minority in the Macclesfield Forest were shared by a small and vocal minority on social media which caused friction with locals and other forest users.  Committee member, Dave Finch, has been acting as a liaison between the groups and United Utilities to agree a common ground. This kind of work by Dave and others is hugely important in MTB advocacy. It can feel like slow progress, but it cannot be underestimated how important it is to build good relationships with land owners and land managers in order to get more – and in some cases keep – places to ride. Thanks Dave and everyone else involved.

Working with other Groups

The number of groups / organisations that we work with is increasing, we continue to work with and support the work of the Peak District National Park Authority and our thanks go to rights of ways officer Mike Rhodes and the Rangers we work with.

We have an active member, Paul Richardson, on the Board of the Peak District Local Access Forum who represents to views of mountain bikers and provides a valuable input in relation to the policies and plans of the LAF. Check out what the LAF do here.

Next year…

Trail maintenance will continue to be a big part of the work we – and our volunteers – do, and it cannot be overstated how valuable these efforts are for building good relationships with those who can help us unlock more places to ride. Bookmark our trail maintenance page and let us know if you can help out. We’re starting in the New Year on Sunday 9th January.

The Peak District is a complex web of stakeholders we need to engage with, and we’re really pleased with the progress we’ve made this year. We’ll be working ever closer with land owners and land managers to identify new places for us to ride in 2022.

…. And finally

We would like to thank all our members and social media followers for their support, comments and suggestions. Having nearly 13,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram genuinely helps us share positive news about mountain bikers and change people’s perceptions about us (in a good way!).

Thanks also to Alexander Berry who won our festive photo competition. Alexander’s amazing photo deservedly graces our 2021 digital Christmas card and this article. Thanks Alexander

Merry Christmas to you all!

23 December 2021