Updated: If you’ve ridden the Borrowdale Bash, your trail needs you!

by 37

A rider in the Lake District is seeking to have a footpath often used as part of the Borrowdale Bash route re-designated as a bridleway. If you’ve ever ridden there, you can help.

Updated Wednesday 27th April:

Thanks to everyone who sent local rider Rich Gale supporting evidence to show years of bike use of this Lake District trail, after ‘no cycling’ signs were posted by the National Trust landowner. He’s now submitted the application for it to be classified as a bridleway, so it’s now time for you to keep your support going.

The application is with the Lake District National Park Authority now. If you filled in an evidence form they will be contacting you to ask you to confirm your route. Please respond to them or it will invalidate your evidence.

I’m pleased to say that the National Trust seem on board with this and they have said they will not be putting the signs back up.The next step in the application is the rights of way committee, who decide whether to approve the order, if so it will be advertised and there will be period where people can put in valid objections in.

Rich Gale

Don’t ignore any messages you get from the Park Authority! It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.

Updated Friday 18th February to include a statement from the National Trust.

Depending on which route map you follow, the Borrowdale Bash may take you along an unpleasantly busy section of road south of Keswick. Alternatively, it may take you along a footpath over Walla Crag – far more pleasant, if not strictly allowed. However, until now the landowner – National Trust – has not objected to people riding this way and avoiding the traffic on road.

That’s all changed now. Apparently due to complaints from walkers ‘no cycling’ signs have been posted on the access to the trail, thereby removing any implication that the unofficial use of the route is tolerated.

National Trust Statement on Walla Crag route

We received the following statement from the National Trust, on Friday 18 February:

‘Due to an increase in complaints from footpath users, we have installed the signs at Walla Crag as a precautionary safety measure. We want everyone to enjoy the countryside in the Lake District and have a network of bridleways and tracks in the region that both cyclists and walkers alike are encouraged to use.’

The signs have prompted local rider, Rich Gale, to start a campaign to evidence the unopposed use of the trail by bikes for the last 20 years, and by doing so to have it re-designated as a bridleway.

The National Trust has recently (December) put no cycling signs on Walla Crag, due to complaints from walkers. This has been used as the unofficial start to the Borrowdale bash since the 90s with out problem and until now the land owner has not challenged this.

If there’s a no cycling sign any implied access is now gone as the landowner is specifically asking you not to cycle on their land (removing the sign doesn’t help!).

I would like your help to go through the process of having the definitive map changed to make this route a bridleway, this requires us to prove that there has been 20 years of unopposed use.

Rich Gale

There is plenty of evidence since the advent of Strava of the route’s use, but it’s harder to show the route being used 20 years ago. If you have photographs or some other record from the 1990s or early 2000s, this information would be especially useful. And maybe you know someone who rode it then, who might be able to support the claim?

Rich asks that you:

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Viewing 37 posts - 1 through 37 (of 37 total)
  • Updated: If you’ve ridden the Borrowdale Bash, your trail needs you!
  • anne
    Full Member

    I realise we should not point the finger at one institution but the National Trust in general are not bike friendly and in many places evidently very anti-bike. I don’t know the trail you’ve mentioned above but recent signage and fencing in my local woods partly (small part) owned by the National Trust has resulted in Mountain Bikers being singled out for the increase in trail use despite all the evidence pointing to the opposite. This attitude is despite many National Trust members also being very keen cyclists and dare I say Mountain Bikers. The trust is more interested in catering to four legs than two wheels.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I will certainly drop him an email – I rode that trail as one of my first few rides (being a Penrith boy) back in 1989 or 1990. I am not sure I have photo of that bit though 🙁

    I have since ridden the loop half a dozen times through the 1990’s.

    boco
    Full Member

    Cancelled my membership to the National Trust many years ago because they are very much anti bike, good luck!

    tenfoot
    Full Member

    We rode that in June last year. We met several walkers and they were all friendly and seemingly had no objection to our presence.

    I don’t understand the reasoning behind these complaints. Is it because of perceived erosion, or because a few walkers feel intimidated by people on bikes?

    Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

    @tenfoot I don’t really know what this issue has been. Still waiting to hear back from the National Trust – will post an update when I get one.

    jeffl
    Full Member

    I think one of the challenges with any large organisation, such as the NT, is that views and opinions will vary regionally or locally. In the Peak District the NT have opened up a number of permissive bridleways at their Longshaw Property/Land and also along Curbar / Froggat edge in conjunction with a number of other bodies.

    But pop over to Lyme Park and I hear they’re pretty anti-bike.

    What they need is an effective access lead on a national level. They review ROW across their land and make decisions. That way you ensure a consistent approach. So before banging up no cycling signs the access lead is consulted. The role could even pivot and look at opening up additional access.

    Cards on the table I’m a NT member, purely because it makes financial sense regarding car parking in the Peak District and by the coast.

    That being said my view is don’t be a dick and it’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    That being said my view is don’t be a dick and it’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

    There’s definitely an element of being aware of the risks when raising these sorts of access issues. Highlighting that a trail is being regularly used by MTBers (despite FP designation) is sometimes a way for the landowner to start putting up stiles and fencing to prevent access rather than accept its usage and upgrade it to BW…

    chrisdavids
    Full Member

    Really sad to see this. As a Keswick resident I’ve cycled this lots in recent years and never had anything but friendliness from other users.

    For those that haven’t ridden it the route is a steep and sustained but rideable climb before a cracking descent. It has seen an increase in the number of bikes using it in recent years with ebikes making light work of the climb.

    Hopefully this campaign will prove successful.

    mattkkitch
    Full Member

    @chrisdavids is it time to ban ebikes?

    My argument with more access to the Lakes is ruined by ebikes. Nobody is sat on the sofa on a weekend avoiding riding the Lake District because Walla Crag isn’t a bridleway. Increasing access would only spread out the mountain bikers, causing less impact on trails and other trail users. There’s no mountain bike logic in what is a bridleway and what isn’t so the safety argument is null, and you could implant local rules on the most popular areas like they have on Snowdon.

    Ebikes are the spanner in the works because surely they are increasing the volume of bikers riding in the Lake District. Maybe some people think that’s not a bad thing and they have the right to be there. But if mountain bikers are wanting more riding access I think it is a problem. Just as mountain bikers are building a case for more access ebikes come along and dent the chances, they haven’t used the Walla Crag trail since the 90s but they are now, they need to wait their turn!

    I’m not trying to generalise and say all ebikers are lazy and wouldn’t have been there (especially don’t want to offend anyone who rides an ebike for health reasons who would 100% have been there if they could).

    Martin B
    Full Member

    The irony will be that the walkers who complain about MTBer’s on the trail, will be the same who will complain about cyclists on the road “holding them up” in their oversized wankpanzers on their way to their walk, you can’t win 🙄 I have noticed in general that with more people riding off road, gravel, MTB, e-MTB’s that there has been an increase in a lack of ettiquette when riding. It is simple Slow Down, Be Nice & Say Hi don’t give other user groups any ammunition 😜

    Beagleboy
    Full Member

    I’ve been a regular visitor to the Lakes with my mountain bike every year, for well over 20 years. Although now I’m mostly riding an e-bike, I don’t know if MattKKitch will let me come down again. 🙁

    The Borrowdale Bash has been an integral part of these visits for me, often combined with a loop out to Skiddaw house and round the back of Blencathra (with a stop at the Quaker church for coffee and cake), for a big day out with lots of beer stops. Far and away the worst part of that ride though, is the road along the side of Derwent Water. It’s horribly busy, with loads of blind corners. I would be Cocker-a-Hoops (see what I did there), if I could ride the Bash from our regular campsite at Castlerigg Hall farm, up onto Walla Crag and along to Allness bridge. I’ve walked the route often enough, but never ridden it because as a visitor to the area I’ve always felt obliged to stick to the rules.

    In my opinion, allowing riders onto the Walla Crag path would be so much safer for them. I’m also another example of a rider who has seen very little conflict with walkers in my 30+ years of riding off-road. I’d be very surprised if this was being driven by complaints from a large number of walkers.

    C.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I’d be very surprised if this was being driven by complaints from a large number of walkers.

    All it needs is a couple of influential walkers – ones who’ve been NT Members for decades, perhaps large-scale donors and NT will fall over themselves to appease them.

    The problem is less the actual designation of the trail and more that it comes in at Ashness Bridge which is a massive honeypot so there’s invariably crowds of walkers around the place.

    …the same who will complain about cyclists on the road “holding them up” in their oversized wankpanzers…

    Ashness Bridge also has a fair number of oversized wankpanzers trying to negotiate a bridge that’s 0.4″ wider than their wing mirrors.

    jonedwards
    Free Member

    Non-local and not done the Bash (or routes based upon it) many times, but have always used Walla as part of it as otherwise its mostly a road ride. I think the first time I rode it was 2015. Never had any conflict issues. Throughly agree with the other comments about not fancying riding the main road alongside the lake.

    I also rather agree that flagging it as a “thing” is a double edged sword. We might get it upgraded to permissive b/way status, or it might engender more nimbyism and crackdowns.

    In the Peak District the NT have opened up a number of permissive bridleways at their Longshaw Property/Land and also along Curbar / Froggat edge in conjunction with a number of other bodies.

    I’m not sure how much the NT actually have to do with Curbar/Froggatt. That’s Eastern Moors/Sheffield Moors “in partnership with” NT (whatever that means). With my Ride Sheffield volunteer hat on, I’m not aware of us ever having any direct interaction with the NT, but the guys at Eastern Moors (and Sheffield Wildlife Trust etc) are brilliant and are the ones who get the permissive b/ways sorted (and are generally pretty pro-open access). Longshaw *is* NT, but the cynic in me suggests that the 2 tracks they redesignated bridleways go straight past the cafe and everyone knows cyclists spend money in cafes, right…?
    (My personal experince/bias with NT is that they want to keep all visitors in enclosed honeypot areas -eg Chatsworth – and milk them for as much cash as possible; not have them go wandering around freely on the moors)

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    (My personal experince/bias with NT is that they want to keep all visitors in enclosed honeypot areas -eg Chatsworth – and milk them for as much cash as possible; not have them go wandering around freely on the moors)

    There’s an element of that. Certainly within “estate” NT property (Chatsworth, Lyme Park, Tatton Park etc) cycling is very much tolerated if it’s on roads and forbidden elsewhere unless there’s some out of the way gravel track around the edge.

    It’s a difficult call – on the one had they have at times made some reasonably positive noises about better cycling provision and they do understand that having massive queues of cars all around their properties isn’t a great look but it’s invariably shot down by the NIMBYs who will raise concerns about people / baby robins being mown down by rampaging hordes of XTreme MTBers.

    However, cyclists do stop at the NT cafe and buy lots of food… Out on the moor though, there’s not really any benefit to the NT so they care a lot less about letting people access it by bike.

    mattkkitch
    Full Member

    @Beagleboy exactly why it’s impossible to generalize. I guess my concern is an acceleration in rider volume undoing long term attempts to improve access. But equally you cant shut the door on new riders and I’m sure encouraging more tourists to spend money in the Lakes is used as a positive too.

    stevedoc
    Free Member

    Im not a resident of the Lakes but im there once a month riding as a treat from Saddleworth . Ive ridden the Bash far to many times including Walla, Warnscale RiggBeck and almost everything in between. In the last 8 years I can safely say only once I have I ever been greeted but the “you shouldn’t be up here with a bike ” That was on the top of Old Man after a 60 minutes shoulder on a mild Tuesday morning and after the a smile and wave good bye alas well in the world again. Apart from that, over the 1000+ miles ive done up there Im almost always met with “hellos mornings how dos and yaa reet ”
    I think with most things in life adhere to rule one Dont be a dick.

    Bruce
    Full Member

    Chatsworth isn’t NT

    TwoPintTony
    Free Member

    I’ve never ridden it (but hopefully will be this year) so I can’t really help. But I do have two questions on the this:

    1. Is that route that Hannah put up an actual official footpath? Reason I say this, is when I look on the OS map App, that solid red line to show the route is not following any marked route on the OS map in the 1:50k scale, which looks like the scale shown in the picture Hannah put up. Then when I zoom in to the 1:25k scale it appears to be following one of the black dashed lines on the OS map. Which when you read the legend, a black dashed line indicates a path but not necessarily a right of way. So is there even a right of way for it to be a footpath? So this could be one angle to go at to get it reclassified.

    2. This may seem an unpopular point. But just because for over 20 years cyclists have ridden on it, why should it be reclassified as a bridleway? All that proves is for over 20 years cyclists have failed to respect the access. It doesn’t prove they have a right to ride there.

    Now before I get flamed for this point, I often ride on the odd footpath and I would like to see all footpaths become reclassified as bridleways to allow cycling on them all.

    But my concern is not the cycling, but what if this proving use for over 20 years principle is used for other things (it might already and I just don’t know of it). Such as:
    •dirt bikes riders proving they have ridden a particular bridleway/footpath/playing field etc. for over 20 years, do they have a right to get access rights reclassified to allow them to ride around and destroy areas where they currently shouldn’t be riding?
    •cars parking illegally, if motorists proved they have always parked illegally on double yellow lines for over 20 years in the same spot, could they have double yellow lines removed?

    Thats just two examples and I’m sure there are many more things it could be applied to. I’m sure someone will tell me a reason why this is not the same as the footpath-bridleway reclassification, but in theory it could be used on many more things, and not always for the better. Just a thought.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    2. This may seem an unpopular point. But just because for over 20 years cyclists have ridden on it, why should it be reclassified as a bridleway? All that proves is for over 20 years cyclists have failed to respect the access. It doesn’t prove they have a right to ride there.

    This is the two sides of the same coin.

    There is precedent in access laws for historic access and proof of it, can lead to embedding that access in law. Otherwise all you ever have is erosion of rights.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Thats just two examples and I’m sure there are many more things it could be applied to. I’m sure someone will tell me a reason why this is not the same as the footpath-bridleway reclassification, but in theory it could be used on many more things, and not always for the better. Just a thought.

    It’s not dissimilar to squatters’ rights.
    Basically if a trail is classified as FP but cyclists have been riding it for 20 years without much (if any) issue, you’ve got a fair argument to say that if it hasn’t caused any problems for 20 years, why the hell are you complaining about it being an issue now?!

    Of course there’s the other side that says well cyclists only ever used it occasionally or there were only very few but now there are hundreds of the buggers.

    Your dirt bikes / illegal parking arguments fall down because those activities are ILLEGAL. Riding a bicycle on a FP is not technically illegal – it could constitute trespass but that is a civil offence not a criminal one – it’s just that trail classification in England and Wales is an outdated system that doesn’t actually prohibit higher rights of access, it just doesn’t necessarily recognise them.

    There’s a thread here related to that:

    Pushing your bike along a footpath clarification

    droplinked
    Full Member

    Land access rights in England and Wales are proper daft. The Scots have the right idea, and this wouldn’t be an issue if the same system applied to the rest of the UK.

    Hetheringtongavgas
    Free Member

    knowing how long winded the upgrade (reclassification) to the Borowdale bash at Manesty was I think its very unlikely the walla cragg path will see a upgrade.I really hope a permissive route can be agreed to though, simply because its much safer than the road along Derwentwater to the climb up Ashness Bridge.The No cycling sign on the gate looks suspicious to me, and I feel its unlikely to be from a official source, simply because there is no other information on it.

    robertajobb
    Full Member

    I think the NT seems most interested in pandering to 4 wheel driven not 4 paws (chelsea tractor owners who pay for their NT car parking and high priced tea shop fayre)

    Edward
    Free Member

    On a side note, the NTs annual report shows the organisation donates money to itself so it can claim gift aid off the government. Some charity

    nobbingsford
    Full Member

    As it seems we don’t yet know the reason behind the installation of the no cycling signs (hopefully @stwhannah will get a reply from NT soon), I think I might ask them myself.

    As a paying member, surely I have a right to ask why they’ve changed access to part of their offering?

    lowey
    Full Member

    As a paying member, surely I have a right to ask why they’ve changed access to part of their offering?

    They havent “changed” it. They have just put signs up to remind bikers that its a footpath.

    b33k34
    Full Member

    @edward2000

    On a side note, the NTs annual report shows the organisation donates money to itself so it can claim gift aid off the government. Some charity

    how does that work then? I thought gift aid was a personal income tax thing. And as an individual you have to confirm you are a tax payer?

    Edward
    Free Member

    @b33k34 The trading arm of the National Trust is the National Trust Enterprise Ltd, which is owned by the National Trust. One donates profit to the other and gift aid is claimed.

    The National Trust Renewable Energy Limited is another subsidiary, which would be claiming Feed in Tariffs from the Government for the renewable energy schemes they have in place (i worked for a supplier of materials for these schemes). ”It transfers its taxable profits to the Trust and Gift Aid is added to this.” So the government gives the trust money, and the trust claim gift aid on this.

    See page 45 https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/annual-report-202021.pdf

    nobbingsford
    Full Member

    lowey
    Full Member
    As a paying member, surely I have a right to ask why they’ve changed access to part of their offering?

    They havent “changed” it. They have just put signs up to remind bikers that its a footpath.

    Yeah, sorry – bad wording on my part. I’d still like to ask them what prompted the addition of the signs though.

    grum
    Free Member

    Land access rights in England and Wales are proper daft. The Scots have the right idea, and this wouldn’t be an issue if the same system applied to the rest of the UK.

    Whilst I agree in principle and think Scottish access laws are fantastic they are unfortunately finding out that having very liberal access laws near to large centres of population is problematic. See the Loch Lomond area camping bans for instance.

    With the much more concentrated population we have in England and arguably a generally less socially conscious/more NIMBYish DM-reading population, I think it would cause no end of trouble, sadly.

    They havent “changed” it. They have just put signs up to remind bikers that its a footpath.

    It sort of has changed because before there was believed to be a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ type arrangement whereas now it’s been made clear that cycling isn’t welcomed by the landowner.

    I think it’s a waste of time tbh. Just ride where you want and don’t be a dick. I also don’t think we need to worry about attracting more or sustaining current levels of tourism to the LD. It’s already frequently nightmarish and despite living nearby I often avoid it.

    lowey
    Full Member

    Yeah, sorry – bad wording on my part. I’d still like to ask them what prompted the addition of the signs though.

    Complaints from walkers apparently. The guys have already engaged with the NT and LDNP and have been told.

    boxelder
    Full Member

    Having ridden it off and on for 15+ years, it’s become a lot more popular for bikes and walkers. Inevitably, some of those riders don’t behave responsibly and as bikes have become more capable, they can now rattle down the rocky descent much faster. I’ve seen groups ride the descent, at speed, not really giving much heed to walkers – who were stood still and clearly worried. Non riders often don’t realise we’re under control at speed, so assume danger. You’ve never been ‘allowed’ to ride there and the signs change little, except the potential for future claims of historical riding ‘rights’. As above, it’s not a RoW, so no classification to change.
    The obvious answer is to establish a trail share/segregation, with separate FP and ‘BW’, as the trail is wide and divided enough along most of its length.
    The NT in the Lakes have been pretty good to cycling, creating cycle paths and allowing riding elsewhere. The footpath around the back of Buttermere was ‘upgraded’ to BW, in spite of there being a BW further up the fell side. The gift aid thing mentioned is totally legit.

    rich mtbg
    Free Member

    Maybe somebody with some legal knowledge could clear this up, but I believe that on public accessible land(PRW or CROW) especially owned by an organisation like the trust its reasonable to believe we have an implied access obviously putting a sign up saying no cycling removes that. Implied access is if you go into a privately owned area like a shop or park you are not committing civil trespass until your asked to leave I would like to think this would apply to us as mountain bikers on a PRW. I believe that the law around cycling on PRW has never been tested so there is no legal president set, but its clear that that land owner has the right to stop us is they wish.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Whilst I agree in principle and think Scottish access laws are fantastic they are unfortunately finding out that having very liberal access laws near to large centres of population is problematic. See the Loch Lomond area camping bans for instance.

    You have just highlighted the exception which proves the rule.

    This is the only example anyone ever gives as to why Scottish-style access might not be the perfect solution (which it is).

    So there was a localised problem, it was fixed with byelaws, and the Land Reform Act continues to make Scotland a shining example of liberal access legislation. What’s the problem?

    Gary Biles
    Full Member

    @mattkkitch / @chrisdavids
    e-bikes could well be part of problem. Grinding up a hill on my “normally aspirated” Stumpjumper I have never had anything but encouragement, courtesy and the odd joke from passing walkers, but not sure I would get the same reaction if I effortlessly zoom past on an e-bike.

    Locally (Dorset) I am now seeing e-bikes in places where I never used to see anybody apart from the occasional dog walker. People are now able to go to places (top of hills mostly) that they would never consider going to without an e-bike to get them there.

    So is this good or bad? It’s great the more people are out riding bikes and for some no e-bike means no riding (two friends I regularly ride with definitely couldn’t do so without e-help). However this means more people on bikes where you wouldn’t have seen them 5 years ago and therefore there is more likely to be conflict with other trail users.

    One other issue for which I have absolutely no hard evidence. I learnt about MTB’ing over a long period of time (been doing it for 30ish years) going from short local rides to much longer and more adventurous ones as fitness and bikes improved. Reading a map (way before Garmin and smart phones), understanding where you could go and more importantly where you couldn’t, taking the right food and drink, having tools/spare parts and the knowledge to use them was all part of that learning process. Now I see people on the trail with an e-bike, a phone and bottle of Evian and I wonder what their plan B is when it all goes horribly wrong? Ok I am exaggerating a little, but it does now seem that the instant E-Bike Weekend Warrior is just the swipe of a credit card away. Someone will probably say that it was the same when I started, but the difference is back then I had to build up the fitness to go further afield, now that can be bought by just splashing some cash.

    rickon
    Free Member

    That being said my view is don’t be a dick and it’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

    This doesn’t make sense. If you do something that requires forgiveness, then you’re likely being a dick. If you’re not being a dick then it’s better to seek permission to do something than ask for forgiveness.

    If you asked to walk through our land, I’d be cool with it. If you appeared in my land randomly, I’d not be impressed.

    robertajobb
    Full Member

    I also find it incredibly hypocritical of walkers (rablers are worst) whinging about bikers needing to be banned, when in turn 100 years ago trespass was necessary to access land to walk on.

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