New Trails For Sheffield?

A recent meeting of trail advocacy group Ride Sheffield, along with representatives from the local council and partnerships saw plans to develop cross country and downhill tracks at a site in Parkwood Springs, near to the centre of Sheffield. Interestingly for the downhilling fraternity the site, stretching from Herries Road to the Ski Village, has the possibility of using the dry ski slope at the Ski Village to provide an uplift service.

Jon Dallow, Parks and Woodlands Officer at Sheffield City Council said that Parkwood Springs, a former landfill site, has great potential.

“We have great plans for Parkwood, including a cross country skills loop, yearly events and links into other routes nearby” says Jon, “In Sheffield we have a strong mountain biking community, and events such as the Wharncliffe Weekender established by Steve Peat show just how popular the sport is here.”

The group also discussed proposed changes to the Fox Hagg Nature Reserve, which overlooks the Rivelin Valley. Currently undergoing a series of consultations, Ride Sheffield is campaigning to retain access on three separate bridleways.

An open consultation will be held to explore the Parkwood Springs plans on December 14 at the Ski Village, and discussions around Fox Hagg are now at an advanced stage between the council and interested groups, including Ride Sheffield.

Ride Sheffield’s Steven Hardcastle, “We need to get the council to see that the impact of closing off two of the three bridleways up there could cause more problems than it solves. All we’re trying to say to them is “just leave it as it is”, which will be better for us, and ultimately save them money too.”

This approach is something Singletrack’s very own Dave Anderson touched upon in response to the access situation mountain bikers find themselves in and you can read his articles here – Access All Areas. The next issue (62) of Singletrack Magazine will feature the third installment of the series.

“We want to use that enthusiasm to build momentum around the plans and in time we will be running dig days and events. At the moment we’re in the planning and consultation stages, but soon we will be beginning development of the site.”

“We’re just looking at ways to use the collective voice of the mountain bikers of Sheffield to build positive relationships with other trail users, and improve access for all”, adds Henry Norman, founder of Ride Sheffield, a group established last year to represent riders’ views.

Along with Eastern Moors Partnership’s Danny Udall, and Sheffield City Council’s Jon Dallow, the groups meeting explored bike access across the Peak District and closer to the city centre, and over fifty of the city’s mountain bikers gathered to trade parts and take part in a quiz and raffle.

“Horse riders, walkers, and other groups have been really well represented in Sheffield in the past,” says Ride Sheffield founder Henry Norman, “With Ride Sheffield, we’re giving mountain bikers a voice in the decisions that are being made about the trails and sport in the city,

“The work that’s going on in places like Parkwood Springs, and out on the moors, is fantastic for bikers, walkers and horse riders, and we want to build relationships with all the groups involved to make sure we’re all working together.”

Plans discussed included developments of the Eastern Moors, the area of upland which covers the moors above Totley and stretches southwards close to Curbar and Baslow.

Danny Udall from the Eastern Moors Partnership says, “This is a very special area that needs to be managed properly. We have a duty to protect the wildlife and ecology whilst also providing access to groups such as mountain bikers,

“We’re looking at ways to engage all the interested groups in what we’re doing with the moors, and get their input on what our next steps should be”.

Much of the Eastern Moors are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with protected status against development of the area which could affect the balance of ecology of the land. Some areas are also Scheduled Ancient Monuments, rare and important historical sites such as cairn fields and stone circles that are protected to the same level as Stonehenge.

“We’ve seen evidence of these Scheduled Ancient Monument sites being impacted by recreational activity in the area,” says Danny, “And we can’t stand by and let that happen. However by working with the groups involved we want to make sure they understand and support what we’re trying to achieve on their behalf elsewhere on the moors.”

“We’re talking to landowners, farmers and others leasing land to build a network of permissive bridleways in the area, and so far, the discussions are going well.”

The comments and plans received broad approval from the crowd of mountain bike clubs, local retailers and riders.

Ride Sheffield is an advocacy group aimed at using the collective might of Sheffield’s mountain bike community to improve, preserve and promote access interests for Sheffield’s mountain bikers.

For more information or to get involved contact ridesheffield@gmail.com, find them on Facebook at Ride Sheffield or at www.twitter.com/ridesheffield

If you’re interested in what’s going on with the local scene in Sheffield then www.thisisheffield.co.uk is a good place to start…

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