Monday Morning Debrief 21

by 39

Overcooked pork

Let’s start off by getting this off our chests. We’ve had another another trail flattened into mediocrity by the gravel it over squad. This time the top of the iconic ‘Blue Pig’ as it drops out of Heptonstall.

It wasn’t the most gnar of trails at this point, but it retained sections of original cobble stones and worn flags that help make up the local character of Calderdale. And ask people to name trails in Hebden and they’re sure to mention the Blue Pig as it’s become a signature descent in the area. A trail that has pulling power, drawing in mtb’ers from outside the area complete with their ‘tourist dollar’ which help keep all the coffee shops, cafes, pubs, bearded bike guides and even the chippy going.

Which makes it all the more surprising that poor attempts at trail maintenance like this are carried out. Not only is the repair temporary (let’s face it it’s likely to wash out in the next lot of heavy rain we get), it’s buried any local character and is also bound to increase trail conflict. A fast and flat downhill with 1ft step downs built along its length encouraging a bit of speed and jumping, where previously riders were kept down to a less intimidating speed by the nature of the trail.

Lower section next?

In the past we’ve been asked by Calderdale Council to highlight local trails of importance to riders so that a dialogue over proposed trail maintenance can ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen. This time it seems to have failed. There has to be a recognition of the features and trails that make an area special, they’re the reason people travel to walk and ride here. There’s nothing inspiring about a flattened section of dumped and loose ‘quarry bottoms’; kill the character and you kill the reason people visit.

We’ve always been proud of the local riding we have here in Calderdale (in case you haven’t noticed ;o), until recently we were supportive of the Rights of Way team too. But when this sort of sanitisation is carried out it only increases speed, increases conflict and forces more riders onto footpaths.

If you want to tell the Rights of Way team how short sighted this ‘maintenance’ is email them here:

Local riders? We’re getting organised:

Sometimes we need to help each other...


Got a better example of gravel flattened trail blandisation? Show us here: 


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Comments (39)

    It’s a disgrace. More like Centre Parcs than Calderdale. I’ve sent my email of complaint.

    sad. and even worse, mad.

    Why do they insist on making trails like that, can’t be good for horses either all that gravel.

    Remarkable. Surely the aim should be sustainable high quality repair using the methods and material in line with how these bridleways and packhorse routes were constructed and maintained over the last 200-300 years. The rights of way team need to take a more considered approach.

    My guess is that consideration to the terrain and original construction wasn’t taken. They just applied the cheap & quick’ method, which seems to be standard practise in repairing any public right of way at the moment, whether it be tracks, footpaths or roads.

    Unfortunately this ridiculous “just gravel it all over” approach is also underway in East Yorkshire. Then it rains and washes it all away; complete waste of time and money. Metasequoia is bob on – sustainable maintenance in keeping with the original construction methods should be the way forward.

    (drops to knees and flings arms to the air) Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    surely just gravel is going to be quite loose and dangerous for walkers? Or is it aggregate?

    That was a great little drop down from the Heptonstall. We rode it a few weeks back. Who is it who’s making the decisions about this? Is it a case of them not consulting users? Or are comments being made then subsequently ignored?

    Sad to see this. I’d be very angry if that was happening on my patch.

    Hmm, if it only lasts a few rain storms won’t it become interesting again soon enoughj?

    I’m sure it’ll ride up with wear.

    This type of ‘fix’ does erode away pretty quickly but from my experience in the Lakes it just means there is then an eroded path but with loose gravel everywhere. It looks awful and is no fun to walk or ride.

    No, it doesn’t get better with rain erosion because they dig the bigger rocks out of the trail that gave it the original character.

    Just seems such a waste of time really, I can’t see how its an improvement for the existing user groups and I know from experience pushing a wheelchair on that surface is almost impossible.

    I don’t know or ride the area, but often this sort of thing is a blanket response to some grumpy killjoys letter stating that a path is dangerous and the council are open to legal issues if they don’t fix it – in the hope that the council don’t actually do anything so they or one of their friends can then “trip up” at a later date, and refer to the earlier letter opening the council to settlement abuse.

    Or maybe I’m being negative at the general nature of things these days….

    Is it the end of the financial year by any chance….

    As Ed-O says, they seem to remove the original sets, steps and stones, which accelerates the erosion of what remains. The methods they choose appear are best short term repairs masking the long-term damage they have unintentionally caused. To consciously take this maintenance route would seem nonsensical and counter-productive at all levels. These Bridleways are historically important and self-evidently form the basis of much of the walking and riding (horses and bikes) that is so important in Calderdale.

    It would be good to have a considered response from the responsible team.

    I think singletrackmatt may be onto something.

    As Ed says often large rocks are removed to make the ‘bed’ for the new surface, worse still is as once it starts to erode away the gravel actually speeds up erosion of soft soil by moving under feel and wheels and acting as an abrasive. Depends what’s underneath it, but it could make it worse in the long run.

    It’s nearly May which is a start of a new financial year.

    Sorry, as well into the start.

    They just applied the cheap & quick’ method, which seems to be standard practise in repairing any public right of way at the moment, whether it be tracks, footpaths or roads.

    Same round our way, flatten it and stick gravel down 🙁

    From the Calderdale RoW Improvement Plan: “but some mountain bikers prefer more challenging terrain than other users and this cannot be accommodated on bridleways”

    Did STW get in touch with the relevant department before publishing this and ask for information / an explanation?

    Might provide some useful (others might say essential) context. Not defending the “work” but understanding why will surely lead more quickly and efficiently to maybe preventing such stuff in the future.

    We’re awaiting a reply to emails sent to both the RoW improvement officer and the highways team responsible for trail maintenance. Will publish a follow up as soon as we hear anything…

    This sort of thing seems to happen a lot these days, I guess it’s been done out of ignorance rather than to control cyclists- authorities see mud, bomb- holes, tree roots in a different light to mountain bikers. As far as land access goes, I feel really lucky that we can exercise the ‘Right to Roam’ in Scotland, it just takes a little consideration from everyone.

    The improvement officer is a oxymoron.

    Will the next Ragley model now be called the Ragley Loose Gravel?
    Actually that would be a good name for a cross bike….

    That section of bridletrack was a nice little climb into Heptonstall. It looks good enough for a Sunday stroll with the Family how. Just hope anyone coming down on a bike can stop in time on the loose surface. Don’t forget the next section of Bridletrack is a driveway meeting a car headon on the blind corner will hert. Take care on bridletrack it’s not a trail in a trail center.

    Went down here for the first time last week (after seeing the old cars flying up the cobbles in Heptonstall) and thought it was indeed brilliant lower down. Local on the corner told me ‘they’ had just graveled it. I even pay my council tax to this organisation who seem to have no cash for anything else. Good idea to ask what the ‘problem’ was.

    Great to see local riders getting organised. If I lived near I’d get involved, is there plans to try do maintenance on bridleways/liaise with the council etc?

    I’m here, covering the Mary Towneley Loop,on my own except one volunteer on a Wednesday.
    I’ve got a Landy that seats 5, we’ve got tools. Come and help me please.

    Ive got a stone pitching job to do at the top of Gorple that I cant afford and I’m trying to put CMBC off graveling over that.

    Ive got half of the section between Marsh Lane and Jumble Hole Clough to try and save (the top bit is now the yellow brick road). That just needs some landscaping and IMBA style RGDs

    I’ve got a section below Pinnacle lane that needs RGDs putting in because they blasted that with gravel over the evil that is terram.

    Theres a section at Boulsworth that needs work before it gets blasted.


    Salter Rake

    Reddyshore Scout.

    Ive got Shizzle loads. Put down your laptop and pick up a spade!
    (I’ve tried so hard not to swear)

    I hope you get some help, I’m not local to you but if I’m over visiting my mate in Cragg soon I may drag him along for some trail work. Fixing stuff by hand is likely to be the only way to keep the feel of the trails and head off the gravel trucks. Also its actually quite fun! Post up some pics if you get some people helping out.

    Mag – this would make an ace follow up to this months big feature!

    Ive already been the naked centre fold in Singletrack!

    my twopenneth….


    It’s with real disappointment that I see the work that’s been done to the bridleway which runs from Heptonstall to the bridge below Pecket Well, commonly known as Blue Pig.

    As a mountain biker I’ve ridden the bridleways around Hebden Bridge for a number of years – driving up from my home town of Sheffield to meet friends who travel from across the north of England to do the same. On our last trip we had riders from Sheffield, Manchester, Nottingham and Chesterfield riding with us. Normally we will stay locally overnight, enjoy local pubs and cafes between riding the bridleways in the hills around the valley.

    The work that’s been done to Blue Pig has put me off organising any future trips to the area. I fear when I arrive other local trails will be similarly sanitised and speaking to mountain biking friends that feeling is echoed by many others.

    I accept the need to make trails accessible and safe, however experience of having seen this done with consideration to all trail users here in my home town of Sheffield, the work done to Blue Pig shows disregard to one of Calderdale’s main tourist groups – and for the trail in question, I’d say the primary user group. See the good work done by RideSheffield for examples of how work of this kind can be done well, not to mention the inspiring example set in Lancashire with the Adrenalin Gateway work.

    Was any consultation undertaken with mountain bikers prior to this work being done? At the very least a timely question in Blazing Saddles would have uncovered an appropriate group to talk to about the plans. How is this work prioritised over other highways work in the area too? Did mountain bikers get any say in the work being done?

    The numbers of people riding in the UK continues to rise, yet decisions such as this show that highways and planning departments are simply ignoring this increasingly vocal and motivated group.

    As I have stated here, this work has put me off visiting (and so spending money in) Hebden Bridge – the bridleways were the primary attraction. I have copied the local Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Information Centre into this email, as with more decisions made such as this, you’re bound to put off more like-minded mountain bikers as me in future.


    As well as posting pics of your sanitisation, let’s get them onto the stuff that really needs fixing. I wouldn’t care at all if stuff like this was gravelled over, for example. The ruts are several feet deep through soft mud and it’s way past the point of being “technically interesting”

    It’s dead easy to report things like this via Fix My Street (A website and a smartphone app that emails a picture, description and location to the relevant local authority).

    RoW budgets are tiny and are being cut further, and most local authorities only have the money to fix one or two a year, so surely we can come up with some uncontroversial alternatives for them to work on.

    It would be interesting to see the evidence that shows that terram then gravel is a sustainable way to repair a bridle way in Calderdale. Every one I have seen ends up as an eroded gravel path with sections of black terram sheet exposed. It’s treacherously slippery for foot, hoof and bike wheel- simply not fit for purpose on a steep South Pennine path or bridle way.

    Terram??!!! FFS!!!

    Someone should get done for fly-tipping for laying that stuff out in the wilds.

    Everytime somebody in a public body cocks up, we get the old lament ‘we will learn from the mistakes of the past’.
    Last year one of the worst hit parts of the country due to flooding was West Yorks, are we going to be watchng some councillor on the steps of the town hall apologising for the 5 ton of gravel that has been washed away following a bit of a downpour and the damage it has caused saying they will do things differently next time.

    Terram *shudder* dont get me started. I think its a highway engineer thing. It works well when you put a layer of tarmac over the gravel, but in the countryside with no Tarmac it just doesn’t work

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