Cyclists using CLEEVE COMMON

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  • Cyclists using CLEEVE COMMON
  • Roger from Cheltenham & County CC. The Cleeve Common Conservators who manage the conservation on Cleeve Common, just outside Cheltenham, have come to me with regard to agreeing access to cyclists on the hill. Read this as “restriction” I’m afraid folks but be assured, I (we) aim to get a deal that maximises our access. Current guidance is that cyclists should “keep to tracks and bridleways”. http://www.cleevecommon.org.uk/200702/main.html
    Anyone who rides there will know there are hundreads of narrow tracks to ride on as well as wider double tracks. What they want us to do is agree to a limited number of these. Having visited the hill with their conservation officer the main concern is the potential to damage protected flora but these grow on the grass and not rocky or muddy tracks. Infact a walker or golfer is more likely to trample on them and they have unlimited access. I am suggesting that, yes, we agree some code of conduct for responsible riding but as long as we stick to a path or agreed grass areas, we can ride where ever we want. Same issue as Craham Woods, they can’t effectively police this anyway. So, I’m looking for feedback, questions and representatives of groups (or individual riders) who want to be consulted on this. I’ve sent out requests to Bigfoot MBC, Gloucester City CC and Winchcombe CC. CC-CC obviously represented by me. Not a militant but, together we stand a better chance of a better deal.

    Why don’t we just ban mountain biking from Gloucestershire and have done with it. Oh wait hang on I love riding my bike around here. Seriously WTF is going on around here. First it was Lecky, then Cranham and now Cleeve. Aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!

    In the last 20 years of riding in these areas why now….? Why do I suddenly have to tip toe around the countryside in case I happen to affend a buttercup; that incidentally has been growing where it does for the last 20 years just fine while I and many other cyclists have been riding there. Why do I seem to require a Doctorate in botany to be able to ride off road. No wonder road cycling is enjoying a 50% increase in riders yet mtb is declining or leveled out for the last 3-5 years..

    I do stay put to the tracks and I can’t say I’ve ever seen any cyclist riding anything other then the tracks as the grass is a foot thick and lord knows what rabbit holes etc lurk under there. Plus the thought of being twated by a golf ball isn’t something that relaxes me on a ride so I stay away from those areas too. Theres no digging at all in these areas and I cover pretty much every nook and cranny of this area when riding as thers already that many tracks up there from the previous ice age. Any chance these same “save my buttercup” people are going up there at night or in the day and removing the motocross bikes, mountain boarders, kite surfers, horse riders, mini crossers off the backend/top of the common? or the people camping and making fires???? No? oh that’s becauses theyd be told to hhhmmmm, how do i put this? “%%**€$~€~^#>#€~ off” But because we have a community as cyclists and clubs we can therefore have a fingure pointed at us, Makes my blood boil. I’m sick of this constant battering we receive for “Well we can’t stop them walking or doing any of the above mentioned things as we cant get in touch with any of them, but we can ban them from riding so they must be the cause of this utter devastation to the poor buttercups”

    So yes you’ve got my interest and backing 100% and although I doubt many people will vote for my help. I could do with a good laugh as to why I can’t ride in certain areas. Oooo while I remember pass my apologises to the bats and rabbits up there. I’m sure I disturbed their sleep last time a rode past with my getoblaster strapped to my back cranked upto 11 and screaming the words faster, faster, faster wwweeeeeeeeeeeee….

    My ending statement: as always I do and will abide to what is settled and agreed. I want to use the areas just as much as the next person and even I with my opinions will stick to what is agreed by the majority. Even if I don’t personally agree with it.

    mrmo
    Member

    To repeat the email i sent to roger earlier

    The following may or may not be what you want to hear. I no longer care, about where i am and am not meant to ride. Common sense applies, if it is a track and not muddy it is fair game.

    One thing is clear from this “summer” there are very few all weather tracks in the Cotswolds and the top of Cleeve is one of the only places where you have any chance of avoiding mud. I consider avoiding mud and the resultant erosion, direct and through path enlargement more of an issue than riding on the defined tracks/sheep tracks etc found on Cleeve.

    Out of interest when is the golf club being closed? i assume the treatment of the greens is environmentally far more damaging than any number of bikes?

    Oldspkoolfool. Yeap it,s getting silly buggers nowadays. It,s the toffs in fancy houses who vote conserv jam wrho persist to be killjoys.

    Freester
    Member

    Grr. I love riding Cleeve Hill and the general area.

    I think the really annoying thing about this is

    1) I stick to the Bridleways
    2) If I don’t I’m not riding across heathland but following single / doubletrack.

    Have you seen the damage done by the cattle down at the ‘sheepdip’ near Postlip Hall this summer on the un-summery wet ground?

    HOW CAN MTBers get all the blame FFS?

    project
    Member

    Getting all cyclists to aggree to follow rules imposed by nimbys is like herding sheep with a blind and deaf sheepdog, called kevin.

    Appreciate the feedback and thoughts so far. Just a bit of background, this is not being steamrollered through and I am here to assist in this consultation process. I could walk (pedal) away rom this process anytime, but experience has shown that ignorance of what other interested parties interested does us no favours. It usually ends up in unnecessary conflict. What I want to ensure is that we put forward a strong enough case so that we can continue in a way that maximises our enjoyment but takes account of the Conservators legal requirements. I, and all responding so far, believe our current use is not detrimental to the environment so far.
    Our riding is limited by the fact that the bridleway network is pretty limited on the common. If riding a horse though, pay £20 and you can “hack” anywhere it seems.

    v666ern
    Member

    keep up the good work Rog

    IHN
    Member

    Ranting is not going to help anyone. Calm, open, informed discussion is the way forward, as these things are often resolved by simply making the effort to understand the situation from all perspectives. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, as the man once said.

    It’s worked on Lecky, it’s worked (pretty much) in Cranham, there’s no reason it won’t work here

    The chances are that what needs to happen (bikes staying off the grassland bits, if that’s what it is) is happening already, as we generally ride the tracks/paths/gullies.

    Good work Rog for getting involved (again). If I can be any help from a non-affiliated but fairly ‘representative’ standpoint of your typical Cleeve biker, let me know.

    alfabus
    Member

    Rodger for mayor 😉

    Trimix
    Member

    Either you end up riding in “prescribed” areas, or you ride anywhere with common sence.

    Once you enter into an agreement, common sence will leave and you will end up being restricted for ever more.

    Who is going to decide what “tracks” we can use ?
    When some ignore this how will those who sign up to the agreeent be treated / further restricted ?
    Why bother at all, other persuits have an impact as well, are they to be restricted ?
    How do they think they can enforce this restriction ?

    Personally I agree with Mrmo and OldSkoolFool.

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Wouldn’t agreeing to promote responsible use amongst cyclists* be better than agreeing to restrictions on sensitive paths that walkers have carte blanche to trample all over?

    Agreeing restricted access sounds ominous and likely to end up in more and more restrictions (and more conflict on the few trails you are allowed to ride)

    *I suppose expecting similar from walking groups would be hopelessly naive

    Kieran
    Member

    old.skool.fool. & mrmo +1

    Sorry, I’m fed up of all of this, I’ve been riding round the Cotswolds for nearly 15 years without any issues and suddenly we’re having restrictions placed on us.

    Although the discussions over both Leckampton and Cranham ended with us having access, we lost quite a few tracks in the process. Our access is slowly being erroded.

    I stuck to the ban on Cranham whilst discussions were on going but it wasn’t easy and many times I felt like breaking them.

    This time, I for one will not be following any requests to stop using Cleeve. It’s just about the only place to ride round Cheltenham at the moment.

    “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. And then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

    ndthornton
    Member

    I used to have a conservator bloke whine at me all the time for damaging the local environment by riding on paths in the Malvern Hills. I tried to explain to him that the path itself was essentially “damage” to the local environment and that said path was certainly not created by a cyclist. He didn’t understand so I ran over him and then built him into a berm. He rides great now!!

    dobiejessmo
    Member

    Yet the horses will charge all over the place.Not to mention the hunts then they let sleep and cattle on there at certain times of the year.
    How things have changed 30 years ago we use to ride motorbikes all over there and no one ever batted an eyelid now you cant have a piss by the side of a bush in case you kill a plant or 2.Hay Ho.I wonder why road cycles are selling so well these days???????????????

    Premier Icon bratty
    Subscriber

    My view is:

    1. There are not that many mtbers using it. I can.not see many areas away from the few established tracks where you even see where people have ridden.

    2. mtbers generally stick to the paths anyway as they ride better than grass.

    3. golfers create divots on there and have greens/tees etc, horses canter where they like, even if they pay for the privilege does this mean we have to aswell? I thought it was a common, not a private members club.

    4. would forcing use to be restricted to bridleways risk these becoming over used?

    I do not think there is an overriding need for control at present. We should be looking for a situation as in scotland where access is broader and impact is spread out a little.

    dobiejessmo
    Member

    There is a sign in the Quarry carpark that says Cleeve Common is privately owned! I thought it was common land too.

    Roger, I don’t suppose you by any chance have any map details as to where this “get orrrf my land” is. Just wondering where exactly they are planning this “agreed access” on Cleeve.

    Thanks.

    mrmo
    Member

    There is a sign in the Quarry carpark that says Cleeve Common is privately owned! I thought it was common land too.

    a common isn’t what most think. Just means that commoners have rights, you or i aren’t a commoner.

    Freester
    Member

    Anyone got Roger’s email? Now I’ve got my rant out the way I want to send him something constructive. Thought I had it but can’t find it or the original Cranham access thread.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    So either participate in the discussion with the people managing the area or whinge in a forum ride everywhere and p*ss people off.

    Which will bring about a better solution?

    Trimix
    Member

    The discussion will lead to us being restricted – irrationally. The only people who will be pissed off are the irrational people wanting a restriction, not the normal people who are happy to share the land.

    Ending up being restricted will not be a better solution. Those who want to manage it are not going to see it from our point of view even if we try to explain it to them.

    Golf / Horses will still be riding about there doing more damage than a few bikes being ridden about. As has been the case for the 20+ years Ive ridden about up there.

    Ignoring it will be better.

    The more you get restricted the more concentrated the riding will be in the few areas that are left. Then you will be waiting for them to build a trail center you can ride on several years later.

    IHN
    Member

    The discussion will lead to us being restricted

    The discussion should (hopefully) lead to a proper understanding, on our part, of what the percieved problem is, and a proper understanding, on their part, of our use of the hill. From that, there can be a common understanding of whether we are having an adverse impact on anything or not.

    If we are, the discussion could (hopefully) lead to an understanding of any reasonable measure that we can take to reduce that impact.

    If their demands are unreasonable, then all bets are off, but why not just listen to what they have to say and have them do the same of us? For the sake of an hour over a a pint in the Rising Sun, I’d be happy to sit with them and just see what the score is.

    mrmo
    Member

    I seem to remember there was a bylaw that said no bikes on cleeve, it was on the back of the sign when you climbed up from Mill lane, for the record there was also such a sign on the back of the boards that used to be on Leckhampton, but that was 20years ago they too were ignored. The only way any access was gained was by ignoring the signs.

    Sorry but i no longer care. I will stick to the paths that exist, be it through the quarries, or across the top. Going off piste such as the scree slopes and the like has never interested me. As i see it alot of the issues that have arisen recently have been because rather than riding too many seem to have taken to building trails.

    All of those except the last are solved by riding on the trails that exist and not going off piste. So what is there to talk about?

    Compare Lecky to Cleeve, Leckhampton basically trashed by the building of a huge number of trails in the last 5 or so years, Cleeve, nothing. so maybe the Conservators are trying to get ahead of the curve, or maybe they are trying to find an income stream, or maybe they want to return to how it used to be?

    All of those issues, except the last, are solved by sticking to existing trails and not going off piste, so what is there to gain by talking?

    Trimix
    Member

    Im with Mrmo on the topic, sadly Ive yet to see a good outcome from this type of thing.

    But, if others want to go and put forward a rational case over a pint, thats fine. It will be great if it works out well, Im not holding my breath or expecting it to do so however.

    Often its the perception of the problem that is the issue – we will be perceived as damaging the countryside, ignoring the fact that so do other users to a more or less degree. Farming / Horses / weather etc.

    You will end up being restricted to a selection of bridleways and not allowed anywhere else. Whereas at the moment you can go about your business with common sence and politly ride pretty much anywhere

    Thanks to all for the input so far. Trust me I am on the side of maintaining the status quo. Presenting opposition from individuals and clubs will demonstrate the feeling on this but there will be things we can offer to help the CCCs feel that we are helping them. Codes of conduct / best practice guidance is an easy one to agree forinstance. We have Cheltenham and Winchcombe on the outskirts of the hill and people are encouraged to get out and exercise and enjoy the outdoors. We nned to convince them that most of us can be trusted to be responsible on the hill and if we need to do this though a liaison contact (I can do this), promoting through the clubs / shops / leaflets then no problem. My email is corrective AT blueyonder dot co dot uk if you want to be an email contact group.

    Trimix
    Member

    How will you convince them that the minority who do ride without common sence should not spoil it for the majority of us ?

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    I’d recommend entering discussion, put your point across state the case, disagree with any restrictions they try to impose (especially if no other user group has to abide by any) and state, truthfully, that even if you did agree with the restrictions you wouldn’t be able to stop a significant number of riders some of whom will ride with a **** you attitude if you try to ban them increasing conflict and pissing off the legit trail users confined to a couple of no doubt busy trails.

    monsteryeti
    Member

    On the basis they cannot police it, I say JUST RIDE

    Cranham riding has been ruined (come on, we can kid ourselves what we have been left with is great, it’s not really (the route no longer flows from Racetrack to Wall as it should) and when you ride Leki you are treated like a poo in a swimming pool, I live at the foot of Cleeve Hill and this is my home ride, the horses destroy the trails when it’s wet not bikes or walkers, the area around the sheep dip is screwed and as for Postlip…

    I know saying ‘sod it’ is not a common approach but enough is enough, we are compromising without benefit. We live in the countryside because it allows us to get out, the walls feel like they are closing in. No wonder road bikes seem to be flooding Cheltenham’s shops.

    mrmo
    Member

    (come on, we can kid ourselves what we have been left with is great, it’s not really (the route no longer flows from Racetrack to Wall as it should)

    Can’t disagree, although to be honest the weather has been crap which hasn’t helped. Personnally i could happily of lost teachers and the wall, just so long as there was a route offroad between the Birdlip and Cranham Corner, something that no longer exists.

    Trimix
    Member

    Keep us posted, Im interested in the outcome. Although it wont change my riding habits. My experience makes me agree with most of the posters on this thread that say much the same as Monsteryeti / Mrmo / Donk etc.

    Premier Icon grtdkad
    Subscriber

    IMBA have collated a number of academic studies (attached) reinforcing the point made above that those paths/trails/bridleways that we all use are in fact ‘erosion’ and non-natural … and there is little or no evidence to show bikes cause more damage than a walker.

    http://www.imba.com/resources/research/trail-science/natural-resource-impacts-mountain-biking

    Most significant damage is noted from horseshoes and rainfall.

    On the last point – there is certainly evidence of notable rainfall damage around here (the Malverns) from run-off. But the same weathering often results in self-repair too.

    The Cleeve access issue needs support.

    IHN
    Member

    we are compromising without benefit.

    No-one’s talking about compromising anything on Cleeve. I just think that, if asked to a discussion about access on the hill then we should enter that discussion in order to understand the problem and explain our position.

    These ‘issues’ usually arise because misunderstanding and assumption, on all sides, leads to mutual finger-pointing and accusation. There’s every chance that threads about this very subject on ramblertrackworld.com and horseytrackworld.com and kiteboardertrackworld.com are appearing right now.

    This is the first whiff that I think any of us have had about access issues on the hill and the chances that with some early intervention in the form of calm, measured discussion it’ll come to nothing. Without it, there’s every chance it’ll blow out of all proportion.

    Markie
    Member

    Kieran:

    “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. And then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

    Really? Lol.

    You’re not being persecuted. You’re being asked to alter your riding habits while access issues are discussed.

    mrmo
    Member

    IHN, i have been using Cleeve for over 20 years and there is a history. This isn’t the first time i have heard of access questions being raised.

    The only discussion point is stick to the existing tracks and keep off the iron age ramparts. Things that make sense anyway. So on the basis that common sense applies there is nothing to talk about other than dig yourself into a hole.

    Unless the conservators are willing to address ALL users, ie horses, walkers and golfers then game over as far as i am concerned.

    mrmo
    Member

    You’re not being persecuted. You’re being asked to alter your riding habits while access issues are discussed.

    Just feels like it, after the events of the last few years.

    Bike thefts the police seem to ignore,
    access issues in Cranham, Standish, Leckhampton, Cleeve, etc.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    Not local here, but I’d come down on the side of engaging with the powers that be, just because it gives a greater chance of stuff like this being averted:

    http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/pipehouse-lane-nr-bath-improved

    “Ride where you want” is always there as a fall-back option, but showing them that there’s a large group of users who don’t fit the stereotype of kids building jumps can only be a positive thing.

    mrmo
    Member

    Cleeve Hill

    It is an area not any one track and the image shows the number of tracks that exist now.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    Yeah I’m vaguely familiar with Cleeve from the HONC. My point is that if they only hear the viewpoint of one user group, or worse still just try and guess what people want (as seems to have been the case with the Pipehouse Lane example above) then it’s unlikely to end up being a better result for local riders than if you get the opportunity to state your case.

    It may also be worth trying to get your Local Access Forum involved, if you haven’t already. They may well be a bunch of blue-rinsed Daily Mailers but I was pleasantly surprised by ours. They came across as very passionate about maintaining access to the countryside and very sceptical of any attempts by landowners to restrict this.

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