Cycling on MOD land

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  • Cycling on MOD land
  • wheelz
    Member

    Interesting article in The Guardian about the possibility of existing byelaws related to MOD land being more rigorously enforced in the future.

    Military land mountain bikers: stand and be counted

    rideallday77
    Member

    This seems to be the key bit:

    The rise in popularity of “North Shore” style riding in recent years has inspired some riders to modify the landscape in ever more dramatic ways. The discipline, which originates from the north shores of Canada, involves incorporating elaborate man-made obstacles into the trails – a trend which the MoD says is a step too far:

    “We have found that a number of biking ‘courses’ have been created on the estate without our knowledge or approval,” continued the MoD spokesman. “This not only increases our risk under our duty of care, but will almost always be an offence under the habitat regulations, which protect the SSSI and SPA status of the training areas.

    Premier Icon Simwit
    Subscriber

    Now I’ve never had the chance to ask this of someone in the military or indeed local government but surely as the MOD/armed forces are paid for by the taxpayer i.e us, then we pay for the land they ‘own’ which in turn makes it our land-or am I (most probably) missing something here? 😈 P.S I ride on the land refered to in the linked article & have never been challenged in over 20 years.

    phinw
    Member

    We often ride the army training areas around Colchester. It was interesting to see from the above article that every bit of MOD land has slightly different byelaws: MOD Byelaws.

    The bits in Colchester do not specifically mention bicycles just vehicles as being excluded. The land is regularly used by horse riders. Occasionally people try to build jumps, eventually they get levelled but I’ve never heard of anyone being warned off or having any trouble.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I saw this yesterday and I think it’s true everywhere that the more ‘construction’ that mtbers do the more there is pressure to exclude all cyclists from an area.

    The MOD have clearly tolerated a level of cycle access to it’s land for years but there’s a responsibility on riders not to, franly, take the pee and some are unable to see that.

    There was a spate of shore building around Brighton a while back which caused problems. New trails are still being built but they tend to be a little less ‘obviously for bikes’ now.

    Premier Icon Gee-Jay
    Subscriber

    I ride the land around Aldershot a lot, its certainly true that more and more “improvements” had been made to the trails and about 6 months ago all jumps and drops were removed over the space of a couple of days.

    Having said that there are ample tracks around and some built by The Army Cycling Union – ie the Brass Monkey course at the weekend where existing bridges were upgraded and added to with other trails cut.

    I have never been questioned while riding up there but know they do stop trials riders. So far it seems to be a case of be polite don’t take the pi55 and all carries on harmoniously – I hope that continues

    TooTall
    Member

    which in turn makes it our land

    It might be, but when they have the responsibility of maintaining the SSSI’s there etc, they will do that.

    The MoD also has a habit of lobbing whizzy banging things around on that land and driving large heavy things around at speed. If you wish to exercise your ‘ownership’ right, crack on – but make sure you have a helmet cam on at the time. It might survive longer than you do!

    soobalias
    Member

    is tunnel hill on mod land?

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Given I’ve taken part in MTBO events on the land around Aldershot – in which you can ride wherever you want to, ROW or not – I have to assume that they’re not against all MTB riding (or at least they didn’t used to be). They must have had permission for that – then again, it was organised by BAOC (British Army Orienteering Club) I think.

    scu98rkr
    Member

    yes most of tunnel hill is MOD and the see-saw/etc are all stamped Army Cycling Union.

    Surely alot of the trails are built by squaddies in that area any how ?

    anjs
    Member

    What see saw?

    Premier Icon Simwit
    Subscriber

    TooTall, I was being a bit sarcastic but it is a question I’ve said to myself I’d ask if ever stopped. As I said I’ve ridden on MOD land for over 20 years on & off and never been stopped or told to go. As stated above the Army cycling union are actually responsible for a lot of structures dotted about that land and are actively involved in opening up new trails along with local clubs for races as I understand it

    ANJS, there’s a mini skills course type thing including a seesaw somewhere over Tunnel Hill area although I only found it once by accident

    anjs
    Member

    I think you will find a lot of the those structures have disapperered over the last couple of weeks.

    scu98rkr
    Member

    why dont you just answer the question in stead of being cyptic has the see-saw gone ?

    Premier Icon thepurist
    Subscriber

    @anjs – what about the bridges & boardwalk en-route to the see-saw?

    anjs
    Member

    I believe all removed at the request of the MOD but have not been over the check

    Premier Icon roger_mellie
    Subscriber

    The MoD land between Church Crookham and Aldershot is where I first started mountain biking. This makes me wonder whether it’ll be worth my while moving back from the Highlands later this year… 😕

    Premier Icon Gee-Jay
    Subscriber

    There appears to be a distinction (so far) between bridges which appear to be left to jumps, drops and dangerous things which have been removed.

    Re the whizzy bangy things last Tuesday night we got stopped by a lnadrover full of squaddies who asked if we had seen a rocket pack because they had mislaid one

    Premier Icon davetrave
    Subscriber

    The difference is, what we the ACU built, we had gained permission for first to ensure it was not in any sensitive areas, including structures and race courses. As far as going off-piste, there’s another good reason for that – it won’t be cleared regularly of any UXO…

    That said, I’ll mention this to the committe as it’s something we might be able to exert a bit of influence over or, at the very least, give voice to the concerns and interests of reasonable MTBers.

    scu98rkr
    Member

    Hey Dave sounds good 🙂

    Premier Icon shortcut
    Subscriber

    As I understand it the bridges and seesaw have been removed because the Land Owner requested they be moved. One of the bridges was also becoming dangerous.

    I would imagine a lot of the stuff that gets taken down or flattened is removed because it is dangerous for a large number of rides and or has “surprises” part way through such as jumps with holes which can easily cause real injury something that sensibly we should all avoid.

    Premier Icon Gee-Jay
    Subscriber

    scu98rkt +1

    Dave, say what you can to the commitee :-), I am sure the vast majority of users follow whats there rather than build new bits – perhaps something could be put in the MTB press to stop the craze of Northshoring / jump building

    Premier Icon Gee-Jay
    Subscriber

    Have just looked up UXO – will now ensure my wheels are only on well used trails!

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    Pentland Hills have a large area owned by MOD. They levelled the north shore and jumps in Dreghorn woods repeatedly too.

    PeterPoddy
    Member

    As I understand it the bridges and seesaw have been removed because the Land Owner requested they be moved. One of the bridges was also becoming dangerous.

    I also believe the trail they were on was becoming rather cut up, and ‘the removal crew’ 😉 were quite happy to get rid of them hoping it would attract less riders to that particular trail, to let it rest. I certainly haven’t been on it on any local ride since the woodwork has been removed.

    A wise decision I believe. 🙂

    (They could do with an approach like this at Swinley)

    pants
    Member

    Pretty much all of the MOD land around Aldershot is SSSI or SPA and the Army don’t get hassled or restricted by it at all, that’s why you see vehicles and digging all over the place! It’s only a problem when a Civi is doing it on MOD Land!!!!!!!!

    The ACU work hard with the Land Agents to allow MTBing on the areas and yes they do build, maintain trails, that are all authorised, it’s the jumps, hole digging, north shore and trail building that is silly and deemed dangerous that is causing the problem, if it did not go ahead, their would no problem!

    A plan is in the making to try and approach it like Swinley as at the end of day, it’s more or less owned by the same firm and is on SSSI.

    Follow link and zoom in on Swinley and other areas

    Natural England SSSI

    Premier Icon davetrave
    Subscriber

    First response from the ACU’s inquiries with the power-that-be. The situation with MoD land, in particular Aldershot, is apparently to do with the designation of the ‘Shot as a super-garrison. As troops are withdrawn from places such as Germany they will be concentrated in super-garrisons, the demand for training areas is therefore going to be under increasing pressure. This seems to be the general reasoning behind the tightening in the byelaws – the Government’s decision to withdraw troops back to permanent bases in the UK is quite simply going to have an impact in the number of users for a given area of land.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    I think it’s all our responsibility to avoid conflict with the military over use of this land – always has been. I’ve been riding in those areas for 15 years and the number of times I’ve encountered troops working is still relatively low, and it’s never been an issue to move off to another location. If they will be using it more in future as mentioned above, we’ll have more conflict to avoid, but I don’t think it necessarily needs blanket bans / legislation when the areas are not being used.

    My concern with the Guardian piece is the usual one about landowner liability, etc. Hence I’m glad to hear Pants suggest a Swinley like scheme might be in consideration.

    All I think I’d like is to know that the MOD will speak to local groups like the ACU / Gorrick / Trolls rather than adopt a ‘baby out with the bathwater’ approach to access / liability.

    Premier Icon Gee-Jay
    Subscriber

    Quite happy with a permit type solution and an onus on local riders to pass on any info about use/abuse, bad constructions, forest fires etc etc.

    We come across training much more on night rides, most rides we see soldiers about but as soon as we do then head off to a different bit of the land, doesnt seem to benefit anybody if we crash into each other

    The MOD say “If the current level of infringements, damage and disruption continues it is likely additional resources will be found to manage access in a more appropriate fashion”.

    I hope thay do only mean the constructions and digging (not for me that stuff).

    But they also benefit from us lot, and that didn’t get a mention. On balance IMO their own activities are greatly more disrupting and damaging than MB’ers. I’ve reported a number of fires to them over the years. (And I have clearly observed their own soldiers causing fires with their spent fag ends). What’s a small cut-through a wood compared to 10M+ wide swathes of compressed sand and mud the big trucks leave behind? An aerial photo of the Aldershot area, and it looks like there has been a war on, – thankfully from our ground level mostly what we see are the nice trees.

    A number of my routes are often freshly cut up by army trucks unnecessarily driving around puddles, and just widening their already huge cuttings into the woods.

    Soliers I meet are friendly. I always say hello, often they do, and sometimes they don’t: It’s normally the trainees who don’t seem to know if they are allowed to speak!

    Zulu-Eleven
    Member

    what is the country coming to when ‘activity undertaken at your own risk’ doesn’t provide the necessary cover

    Thing is, for 99% of trails it does – the problem becomes the additional burden caused by “built obstacles” and this seems to be what the MOD have the greatest problem with. whoever builds it, the landowner becomes liable as soon as they are aware of its presence, and many “built obstacles” are of inherently poor design, on line rather than off line, no chicken run, poor sight lines and fall zones etc – so that somebody “unknowingly” riding down the trail could be taken by surprise by a three foot drop, rather than them having consciously “opted in”.

    allthepies
    Member

    With a bit of luck Natural England will get their plug pulled. They seem nothing but trouble when it comes to MTB access.

    pants
    Member

    Mountain Bikers are not helping themselves on MOD Land as there has been some incidents over the past week which has resulted in written complaints to the Land Agents. Mountain Bikers swearing at Military personnel and riding through exercises and harbour areas.

    What do we expect? be mindful of troops training whilst riding on MOD Land.
    Tips, Be polite and try an avoid.

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