UPDATED: Is this the UK’s biggest drop?

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Is this the biggest drop ever on a bike in the UK? Are we stoked and awed, or are we all thinking ‘you’re a very naughty boy?’.

We’re conflicted. In ordinary times we’d probably say ‘wow, that’s insane, our stoke is high!’. Maybe there’d be a bit of ‘I hope they got permission for that?’. But these aren’t ordinary times and we’re a bit ‘That’s not daily exercise! What happened to no car, not far, no gnar?’. But, 35ft! A possible British record?

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by oliver watson (@oli_wats_on)


Also, we have questions. Why is he only wearing one glove? Why did he have to rebuild the drop? Who is he? We have dropped him a line in an attempt to answer some of these questions.

What we know:

  • That is a very very big drop. Maybe it is as claimed the biggest in the UK?
  • Lake District locals have identified the spot for us and this is in a part of the country just outside the official ‘Lake District’ where riding isn’t permitted. The Forestry Commission would be liable for any activities they permitted on the land if it devalued the value of the land for shooting (the shooting rights on this land are held by someone else).
  • That is a very very big drop.
  • His Instagram story shows the landing being prepped in the last week, under cover of darkness. Which doesn’t scream ‘permission granted’ to us. But maybe they’re all just really busy during the (very few) daylight hours.
  • That is a very very big drop.
  • Young Oliver here has form – this perfect execution of the drop is not through luck. He’s already jumped the Pemberton train gap, he clearly knows what he’s doing in the air on a bike.
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by oliver watson (@oli_wats_on)

We’ll continue to see if we can find out more from Oliver. In the mean time. Don’t try this at home. Get your daily exercise. Eat your greens.

Update – Some Questions Answered

We managed to get hold of young Oliver (he’s young to us anyway, at 20 years old). Here’s what he had to say:

On building and doing the jump:

I started building the drop before lockdown, it was very slow progress as I would only build there when I went shopping in a nearby town. We went into lockdown and the drop was almost finished so I finished the drop by myself and was preparing to do it the next morning since I heard of a group of people wanted to get rid of it… this group was unrelated to the land owners or Forestry Commission. So that morning I went to do the drop but found it had been destroyed so decided I could either leave the drop or quickly rebuild it in a day and hit it early the next morning. I’m normally working full time and being furloughed gave me the opportunity to build this jump and I wasn’t prepared to see it get destroyed and never ridden.

We got it rebuilt and went the next morning when Sam the photographer came before he went to work at 10.30 – this meant we were in a bit of a rush. I realised when we got there that I was missing a glove in my bag and had no time to go back and get it. I put on a neck brace, a back and chest protector, knee pads, and my one glove. The drop went smoothly and after I removed the drop entirely as I didn’t want to take responsibility for any others trying it and didn’t want to bring more attention to the local wood.

On the size of it:

The biggest drop I had done to this previously was around 18ft vertical. But I’ve had experience with large step-downs and other jumps too. As far as measuring the drop goes it wasn’t measured using a tape, but from a photo of me stood at the bottom taken from far back I worked out the drop was somewhere between 35-40 feet in height hence why I put “around 35ft”. There is also a known climbing route at the side of this drop which backs up the height. I plan on measuring this properly in the near future.

On his experience:

I’ve been riding MTB for three years. I biked a little when I was much much younger with my brother, but we moved house and my brother went to uni so I had nowhere to ride or anyone to take me riding until I was about 17. So I rode bikes but didn’t really mountain bike until about 3 years ago. I don’t currently have any sponsors, the reason I tagged so many companies (only brands which were part of my bike or gear – no random ones!) was in hope they might recognise the video and help it gain traction.

On rules, and freeride opportunities:

I did not have permission to build the drop and we have tried many times to make some type of trail association with the Forestry Commission. We even had a petition with over 500 signatures. We are allowed to ride the trails that are already in the wood and people have been riding there for years and years. As you mentioned the estate is used for shooting however this wood which is part of the estate isn’t permitted to hold any type of shooting. I believe that it is near impossible to become recognised without as a freerider without disregarding some of the rules depending on where you live. Where I live the closest bike park with good jumps is Danny Heart’s Descend Park, which is close to a hour and a half away. I don’t even have a set of local jumps to practice on.

Update From Chipps and Forestry England

Chipps had a chat with a spokesperson from Forestry England who had some interesting things to say on the matter. The most important message from the chat is probably this:
“The jump was illegal and unsanctioned. It has now gone. Please don’t travel here to try to replicate it. In fact, please don’t travel at all… Stay home. Stay safe”

In expanding upon the stupidity of this particular stunt, the FE rep was keen to point out just how involved a rescue of a rider with, say, two broken legs, would be from that particular spot. There is no vehicular access to that track and it’s on a narrow strip of land next to the river. Any operation by Mountain Rescue would have involved either down-climbing to evacuate from the top of the cliff, or having to approach from the river itself. Needless to say, it would be a huge effort, putting many members of Mountain Rescue at risk.

Forestry England want to remind riders that such activity isn’t permitted in its woodlands (at the best of times, let alone during a ‘stay at home’ lockdown) and that such ‘pirate’ trailbuilding isn’t going to help things when legitimate mountain bike groups approach woodland managers, looking for permission to develop trails in its woods.

So, that’s a big thumbs down from Forestry England and from Mountain Rescue. And to repeat things – the jump isn’t there any more, don’t travel to have a go yourself and don’t go digging in the woods without permission or it’s not going to help the riders trying to get legit trails built.

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Comments (32)

    Bloody hell’s bells

    What he said…

    Ooooh, I know where that is…. And if you’ve bottle enough, I think a bigger one…

    Can’t see the problem with that, he nailed it..

    The thing about getting permission… if we all did that we’d all have absolutely **** all trails to ride on or footpaths to, ahem, push our bikes along whilst walking. Because it took trespass events and ignoring permission requirements to eventually force access to anything.

    That’s nuts!!
    He nailed it though.

    In fairness if that had gone wrong it would have been a clean up job not the NHS

    Credit where credit is due – but someone with less talent is going to royally spanner themselves on that.

    Now is not the time for such things..

    Looks like exercise to me.

    My knees hurt just watching that. Talented bloke

    That POV shot made me feel queezy, no idea how anyone could actually ride (drop?) that.

    Surprised there are so few negative comments about this. What happened to STW’s stance on “no car, not far, no gnar”? Ok he made it safely and it looks good, but not much different from **** taking selfies on the edge of high rise buildings. If it was in a bike park with facilities and access in 2019 I would probably say kudos, but we aren’t in that place anymore. It could have all ended so differently including a whole bunch of people who would have been involved in a what sounds like a complicated rescue in a remote location. Then again it could have been just a couple of blokes with a large black plastic bag. There’s a time and a place, this isn’t it.

    “What happened to STW’s stance on “no car, not far, no gnar?’
    This. A bit hypocritical posting this and giving him coverage now. Take it down and let post it again when the current madness has ended otherwise you are just enabling and potentially encouraging this behaviour.

    “removed the drop entirely as I didn’t want to take responsibility for any others trying it and didn’t want to bring more attention to the local wood.”

    “ the reason I tagged so many companies was in hope they might recognise the video and help it gain traction.”.

    You know he could of done this drop cleared the site up, and not publicised it.

    I think it’s a great thing to build this, ride and film it so well, then remove it. Something amazing that exists briefly.

    Doing it right now seems daft, of course. I wonder if it’s much different to me riding on the roads locally for a few hours though? I don’t think anything will go wrong, I’m confident it won’t – but it might. I still do it though since the likelihood of anything happening are so low or normalised.

    You wouldn’t do anything like this if you weren’t totally confident. Just that so few of us could relate everyday risks to the risks here.
    (yes the timing is daft and yes there’s plenty of media outlets that would be really critical of it)

    As Danny Macaskill says; I am not a big risk taker, I’m very calculating.

    “You know he could of done this drop cleared the site up, and not publicised it.”
    Yes. But he wanted ‘traction’ as i think he is hoping for sponsors. What I was criticising was Singletrack.
    You know you could have ignored it and not publicised it.
    Er. By ‘you’ I mean Singletrack.

    From the comments the Instagtam community seems to be 100% unaware that there’s a lockdown!

    As much as I admire this young man’s bravery at completing such a feat, ultimately it may only serve to piss-off a bunch of people who will ultimately make it more difficult for others to justify asking for more trail access, let alone keeping what is already available. Aside from a momentary thrill for the freerider, and those who watched his video – this really didn’t accomplish anything lasting, nor show you anything you haven’t already seen before…..

    So much negativity.

    Good on him, and good luck, I hope he gets some sponsorship after that!

    I think it’s a great thing to build this, ride and film it so well, then remove it. Something amazing that exists briefly.

    Appalled at the patronising and negative commentary from Singletrack:
    “In expanding upon the stupidity of this particular stunt,”

    I mean really. Great work STW.

    Good on him. Awesome bit of riding.

    Stw, you have used this for publicity. End of.

    Fair game, that’s your job. He is trying to do his.

    Irresponsible, given the current circumstances.

    Not as irresponsible as the many illegal gatherings though.

    Good to know that by the majority of us limiting our activities massively in order to minimise risk to others and our services it allows some to carry on as normal. Gives you a good feeling inside.

    Sounds to me like ‘young Oliver’ probably quite likes the current scenario we find ourselves in; he’s lucky enough to have a job that can furlough him, he’s therefore getting paid by us to ‘further his cycling career’, most of us chumps are sat at home and so the trails are empty and F.E./F.C. ‘policing’ is minimal. Magazines are desperate for content that will generate clicks/traffic and so are most likely to have their judgement swayed and produce a piece around his story, this will have the veneer of a balanced piece of reporting offering the views of both sides of the argument but it will actually achieve nothing except publicising a dick move by a **** (and generate some clicks).
    Sounds like wins all round for young Oliver! (I do hope that none of the brands he’s tagged pick up on the potential negative PR that could be generated by being associated with him and this story, that would be awful…)

    Have I clicked on the Daily Mail by mistake?

    “Have I clicked on the Daily Mail by mistake?”
    In what way do you think this?

    Do you know what a rant is?

    nice riding that man

    Tried to have an association with Forestry Commission? They are willing to allow people to ride their (our) land provided that you follow their (our) rules. These generally require proper planning, liaison with FC, risk mitigation and a long-term commitment to maintain what is built. I suspect that our hero wasn’t prepared to put in the extra miles to make it work.
    Nice riding, yes but neither the time nor the place.

    Ah the double standards of STW,

    Danny Mac puts out an arty-farty video in a far more remote location with just as much potential for risk and everyone loves it. This lad does one fairly sizeable drop and some people are ready to burn him at the stake.

    I have no issue with either video, fair play to them – I wouldn’t do either.

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