Wigley Lane no longer wiggly – UPDATED!

by singletrackjenn 26

This is probably only ‘news’ if you had your head in a social media-free black hole last week – but just in case you missed it/were on holiday/don’t do Twitface, here’s a story from Ride Sheffield about the flattening of a well-known, well-used bridleway in the Peak. We know it well, and are *quite* annoyed, too…

Wigley Lane Flattened!

Mountain bikers have been left furious once again after another Peak District trail is flattened in the name of ‘safety’. Wigley Lane runs from Longstone Edge to the village of Rowland and posed, until recently, a decent challenge. Now, exposed limestone bedrock has been covered with road-planings by Derbyshire County Council and technical singletrack has been converted into a flat, wide, all but uncontrollable descent.

Bleaklow-Rowland BW Disgrace 3
Wigley Lane – from the top…

Furthermore, many outdoor enthusiasts were left mystified as to why DCC are able to bring entirely alien surfacing materials such as road-planings into an area of outstanding beauty and great environmental significance. Wildlife Trusts, the Eastern Moors Partnership and other land managers all ensure that they use the correct materials by liaising with Natural England. Are DCC somehow exempt?

Cy Turner of Cotic Bikes is particularly incensed as the track forms part of a favourite circuit. “It was obvious that the track needed some work to make it safe for other users, particularly horse riders, but this is vandalism. DCC have managed to destroy the challenge that existed and create a trail that is actually more dangerous for all users. The surface is breaking up and the unwary may find themselves travelling too fast and unable to stop on three inches of loose gravel. Surely it is in DCC’s interests to consult with user groups to prevent this kind of ill-conceived maintenance?

Bleaklow-Rowland BW Disgrace 2
…and the bottom. Sad times.

The most depressing part of this is DCC’s high-handed attitude. The DCC website is full of fine words about consultation and involving all user groups but in this instance and recently on Stanage Causeway, there has been little if any consultation and an inevitable outcry has been the result. Ride Sheffield has made a number of overtures to DCC offering to consult at a moment’s notice when work is being considered, but they have been rebuffed at every turn. Is this any way for a public body to act?

To add your voice, chip in to the comments below, and keep an eye on Ride Sheffield for updates.


We’ve had this response from Derbyshire CC via their twitter account @derbyshirecc

@singletrackmag 1/3 You can’t always please everyone. Some people prefer a rocky route while others prefer a smoother surface”

@singletrackmag 2/3 We had complaints about the poor condition of Wigley Lane. We can’t consult every time we carry out work”

@singletrackmag 3/3 We work with Peak District NPA, Natural England & local access forums which give advice on access issues”

Of course, what the author behind the @derbyshirecc account has failed to recognise is that had they actually consulted on this work before hand they would have stood a fair chance of avoiding work that has patently made this trail more dangerous than it was originally.

Comments (26)

  1. The question over the environment impact of the planings / millings needs to be answered – granite & limestone, yes, but there’s a lot of bitumen there, and possible some tar too. Not good. I’m sure the surface finish is “fit for purpose” but it’ll quickly erode to dangerously deep ruts. In the meantime it’ll encourage crazily fast speeds by MTB’ers which can alarm and upset other users.

  2. Could stw staff as journalists approach the council and ask them to put someone up for interview to explain why the decision was taken, choice of materials etc?

  3. I think the point is that the surface is not fit for any purpose. 3 inches of loose gravel is not easy to walk on, ride a horse on, or ride a bike on.

  4. Cy hits the nail on the head.

    How can 3″ deep loose chippings be ‘safer’ for anyone?

  5. Can someone post a google maps link please as i’m trying to work out if i’ve ridden around the area

  6. wwaswas – We could, and we might. Watch this space.

  7. thanks jenn 🙂 wasn’t a dig – just might make an interesting article (online or printed) about the whole process of councils and rights of way maintenance and policing. “Day with a council ROW officer’ type thing?

    twitter seems to be increasingly the best way to access these people from what I’ve seen – the South Downs Park staff all seem to be on twitter, for example.

  8. For balance you could come and look at some of the bridleway work we have been doing in lancs. 🙂

  9. An awful lot of trails around there have been resurfaced. The climb up from Black Harry Gate is already deeply rutted with a big pile of gravel at the bottom. It’s a bad fix, a temporary fix and a pointless waste of money

  10. Tony, that would make for a really good story comparing LCC’s approach vs DCC. For those of you who don’t know PMBA came up with a series of Rossendale and beyond routes that could be upgraded and publicised, Tony then got on the case and has found funding to carry out sympathetic and well thought out improvements that benefit all user groups.

  11. It was an enjoyable and challenging short downhill BW – it’s also one used regularly (and wrongly) by the MXers – hopefully they’ll soon restore it to ‘enjoyable’ 🙂
    Shameful lack of awareness by Derbyshire CC – and whose bright idea was it to tarmac the lane up from Rowland?

  12. I think the other track that continues onto Longstone Moor from Rowland has been resurfaced in asphalt – at the new landowners expense. Maybe DCC / PDNPA just want people to cycle on the “sanitised” trails

  13. TonyL – yes, we could. I’ve heard that there are very positive conversations/work going on in other places, too; the problem is that the various LAs, and the various advocacy groups, don’t talk to one another and so there is no national coherence. The blame cannot be laid entirely at the foot of the LA. Perhaps our next story should be about the failings of IMBA…? 😉

  14. @stumpyjon I agree, that would make a good article.

  15. if only local cc were as quick to resurface the roads that need it, dam potholes are everywhere round here…

  16. We have wondered about trying to put together a good practice guide gather examples of good stuff from around the uk and try to do some sort of design guide. Could also try to link it to planning guidance etc.

  17. ” it’ll quickly erode to dangerously deep ruts” let’s hope so. It needs a few hundred MX bikes trespasses to rag the trail into it’s former glory. One does wonder why they go to the efforts when the roads are so holey.

  18. That is so different to what was there I didn’t actually recognise it……..

  19. “the problem is that the various LAs, and the various advocacy groups, don’t talk to one another and so there is no national coherence. The blame cannot be laid entirely at the foot of the LA”

    The local access forums are there for that purpose, these are funded by and “controlled” by the LA’s some of which currently don’t fulfil this statutory requirement.

    LAF’s are populated in the main by people who volunteer their time in a working week and can be bothered to read the volumes of stuff put out. This means there is a historic weighting towards some user groups and they function slowly

    Who is on the Derbyshire LAF?
    Membership of Derby and Derbyshire Local Access Forum

    Representing Other Interests
    Chris Allen Cycling Volunteering, nature conservation and walking
    Robert Aspey Access to water Outdoor swimming
    David Blackburn Walking interests
    Cllr Michael Carr Derby City Council Climbing and walking
    John Clarke General rights of way interests Historical routes, walking
    Geof Cole Walking interests Cycling
    Hon Richard Curzon Land use (farming) Local History, Parish councils
    John Disney Small business and sustainable transport Walking
    Joan Dryburgh Community/volunteering Walking
    Ian Else Land use (estate management)
    Richard Felton Community/disability Volunteering
    David Giles Recreational motor vehicles interests Mountain leadership and canoeing
    Marilyn Hambly Disability issues Health and social care
    Edward Hicklin Land use (farming)
    Robert Johnson Countryside Crafts/Equalities Health
    Lyndsay Jones Equestrian interests Walking, cycling, education & environmental issues
    Howard Langley Countryside management Health walks
    Barbara Robinson Land use (equestrian/ canine business) Disadvantaged groups
    Paul Tame Land use and Land Management Walking
    Appointment to be confirmed Derbyshire County Council Environmental issues & Sustainable communities
    Vacancy Outdoor pursuits
    Vacancy Landowning/Land Management issues

    or you can bash IMBA

  20. What a bunch of fuds DCC are. Why don’t they just tarmac everything.

    That loose surface is more dangerous. Lulls people into a false sense of security (especially inexperienced). Little to no traction at speed.

  21. Been a regular Peaks rider its sad to see another classic challenging piece of trail sanitised for the perceived greater good of the public. The new tarmac ribbon that has been laid over the nice off road trail at the bottom of Wigley is the cherry on the cake 🙁 Any one notice there is a space on the Derbyshire LAF for outdoor pursuits rep on the panel, Anyone?

  22. All personal bias aside surely everyone, councillors included, must feel something die inside them when they see that horrid material dumped in the countryside? It saddens me that this happens anywhere, and yet I’ve seen it in Bath, in Essex where ancient rights of way have been permanently changed/damaged*, and now this.
    Sad and wrong.

  23. Just adding my voice to the saddened and disapproving masses. There are so many things wrong here:
    – waste of time / effort / money
    – worse than before
    – unnatural materials and appearance
    – refusal from DCC to consult
    they should be taken to court for fly-tipping in my view.

  24. Thanks for all the comments. We (Ride Sheffield) are trying to put more pressure on DCC to explain themselves. They claimed there was some kind of legal threat about the state of the trail, which is the excuse the hid behind for Stanage Causeway. I’m going to look into making a complaint on legal grounds about the work done and see what that does, by them getting a legal threat on a counter arguement. If anyone has any environmental or planning law experience or does that for profession, drop me a line. My solicitor is a good guy, but he’s commercial and contracts so not really his bag. Happy to pay proper rates for proper work, no freebies required. Drop me an email if you can help, or know of someone good.

    Related, the thing that’s pissed me off most about this is that DCC seem to think that this whole thing is about whether the work should have been done at all. Totally missing the point that it’s the NATURE of the work that’s the issue. As a regular user of the trail (it’s part of our test loop and we (used to) take our demo rides down it as it’s just up the hill from our warehouse) I don’t disagree that some work needed doing. As someone who’s shepherded Peak virgins down there on demo rides the middle section in particular did need some clearing out and filling in. However, it was a gem of a limestone descent; one of the very few in the area as it’s right on the change in geology from Dark to White Peak. Limestone and sandstone have been used to great effect at the insistence of Natural England just up the road by Eastern Moors partnership. Even Black Harry’s Gate mentioned above – regardless of what you think of the quality of the work – was done in sympathetic stone, and that’s not even 1km away from Wigley Lane.

    So sad…..

    Genuinely, I want some proper legal advice on this. I want to take them on. Get in touch if you can help.

  25. Cy,

    first of all, good on you for talking this on!

    A non-premium mate made this suggestion and asked that I post it on his behalf:
    “I would suggest an FOI request to the CC for copies of all the meeting minutes, notes and emails relating to the work, the risk assessment for before and after, the environmental impact report and so on. If you know how they came to the decision it makes it easier to take them to task over it as rather than saying they got it wrong you can tell them how they got it wrong”

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