Peak District mountain bikers are preparing themselves for the next stage in a long-running battle with Derbyshire County Council over the maintenance of Rushup Edge, formally known as Chapel-en-le-Frith Byway Open to All Traffic 144.
The sorry saga began in 2014, when DCC started surfacing the byway with aggregate. Rushup has always been an extremely hard-wearing trail and most of it is bedrock, so the works weren’t well received. An outcry from various user groups followed, the work was paused, and a series of consultations began. In the meantime the trail has been officially closed, and parts of it are still covered in loose stone from the first repair attempt.
Derbyshire County Council’s latest proposal is for the route to be “repaired” using a mix of stone pitching, stone pavers, cement and Type 1 (the crushed limestone used in road building). The consultation page on DCC’s website states that:
“The route is in poor condition… We have taken the decision to remove sections of the route that we believe limit opportunities for less able users to negotiate the route and enjoy access to the higher sections of moorland. These sections will be reconstructed to provide a route that is easier to negotiate by all users.”
Local trail advocates Peak District MTB and Keeper of the Peak have pointed out a number of issues with this approach, including the cost of the work, the suitability of the material, and whether any work done to the trail will actually improve it in the long term. In the words of Esther Hobson from Peak District MTB:
“The works DCC want to do are pretty pointless. They’ll cost a huge amount and with no plans for maintenance will quickly be destroyed making it worse. Using techniques suitable for highways is completely flawed: this is a rural byway, people go there because it’s beautiful and challenging, not because it’s smooth and urbanised. I’d much rather see the cash spent on services for children or people with disabilities.
“If they want to spend money on access do it properly: choose a proper contractor, do minimal repairs and look after it, and fix places in need of fixing like Cut Gate, or use it to deal with barriers to access in areas that are key for people with disabilities like Langsett Reservoir or around the Monsal Trail.”
PDMTB member and bike shop owner James Irvine has produced a video which gives a good idea of the current state of the trail (click here if you can’t see it below).
The latest round of consultation is open until 10 July and Peak District MTB are urging all mountain bikers to respond. It doesn’t matter if you’re local or not, given that the trails in the High Peak are good enough to draw riders from around the UK and even further afield.
However you can’t just copy and paste a response as DCC have said they will discard these, so if you’d like a classic trail to stay that way, we’d recommend having a nose through the links above and watching the video to inform yourself of the issues.
Remember, the consultation closes on 10th July!