The repairs on Swan and Limer Rakes in Hollinsclough, just over the Derbyshire-Staffordshire border to the south of Buxton, are underway but we – and the Local Access Forum – had no sight of the plans from Staffordshire County Council (SCC).
We reported last month that repairs have started on Swan Rake and Limer Rake byways. A consultation on the required repairs took place over 2 years ago and Peak District MTB submitted our views. You can read more about that here. Our key concerns with the repairs starting are that:
- Work commenced without feedback through the Local Access Forum (LAF), the SCC web site nor us directly (SSC claim “as agreed with Peak District National Park” but won’t say whom)
- No detailed plans shared (including with LAF) making objective feedback difficult
- Concerns have not been adequately addressed (e.g. wash out of unbound material)
Through our contacts on the LAF we’ve recently established that the routes are being resurfaced with gritstone aggregate, and built-up where wall footings had been undermined. We also understand that on some sections the surface is engineered with gritstone channeling and manhole covers due to the large volume of run-off water they need to handle. Preventing water from draining onto the route as well as removing any water that accumulates on the route through effective drainage and maintenance is important; all drains will clog unless cleared. Many of us have seen poor repairs across the Peak District where the loose aggregate has washed to the bottom of the trail.
Tucked in a quiet corner of the north Staffordshire Peak District, the Rakes have for years been an esoteric mountain bike challenge, with rocky descents that lay claim to being some of the hardest in the Peak District on permitted rights of way. The area is also used by horse riders and – for many years – off-road vehicles. Limer Rake was a jumble of loose rocks and ruts and Swan Rake was largely down to stepped bedrock and we can understand why some users were keen to see repairs. However, the consultation process has felt like little more than a box-ticking exercise, with the expected levels of detail and engagement missing. Our attempts to get further information our of SCC have involved a lot of chasing and not much response.
Main photo – top of Limer Rake just before the extended closure. We’ll update this article with photos from the ongoing works as soon as we can.