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  • Interesting vid about Forestry England and unofficial trails
  • nickjb
    Free Member

    Neil Donoghue from GMBN talks to Dawn Thompson from Forestry England. She is Head of Recreation & Engagement and a mountain biker. A mix of don’t do that and pragmatism. Not too bad all things considered (although a bit of a clickbait title)

    Full Member

    I only watched the first half as although the idea is good, it seems to be suggesting that all bikers are now using bike parks, trail centres of building illegal trails – which isn’t the case.

    Was also interesting to hear that the Forestry have had to work closer with community/volunteer groups – it sounded almost like it was forced upon them as they weren’t keen – and yet in a number of cases it has had a positive impact and benefit.

    I do think Forestry are still stuck in some very old ways but some parts are slowly starting to embrace a more open way of working with others rather than keeping everything controlled by them.

    Free Member

    As a local to the area in where this was filmed, the irony of GMBN (and in the past, EMBN) putting out a discussion piece on illegal trails, whilst also filming a bulk of videos on said trails, is not lost on me.

    Also, I could probably write chapter and verse about Forestry England & their total lack of interest in building/maintaining trails in the FoD. Claiming they are build & maintained to a standard? Is that some kind of joke? The official stuff is some of the worst maintained in the entire forest & their authorised ‘jumps’ are some of the worst built examples I’ve ever seen & ridden 🙄

    The fact that most of the official trails are maintained by a volunteer group, says it all. There is a new official descent going in at the moment. So far it’s taken them 9 months to build about 500m of track, with a small army of people. It was opened for a week, then promptly shut again as it was built so badly & two months later it’s still shut.

    That’s why there is a thriving network of unauthorised trails. Involving FE in anything is like trying to push water up a hill.

    Full Member

    Involving FE in anything is like trying to push water up a hill

    This is the main problem – but it’s not going to get easier if ‘we’ don’t engage with them. I’m not criticising anyone that trail builds – it’s hard work and I’ve never gotten involved. But if we want FE to be better at this then ‘we’ have got to do the donkey-work. That’s simply because they are a large organisation with no conscience – which is disappointing but a simple enough fact.

    Full Member

    That is art of the problem though – ‘we’ are trying to engage with Forestry but they have no interest in engaging. The video makes it sound like they are very engaging/encouraging but reality isn’t…

    My first post was trying to be ‘polite’

    Full Member

    They should take a trip north and talk to FLS in Scotland and see how to do it properly. I cant watch anything from GMBN has I am older than 12 so its not aimed at me

    Free Member

    Forestry England & their total lack of interest in building/maintaining trails in the FOD

    Funny because FOD is lauded as highly progressive and engaging by folk moaning about our local trails (cannock chase)
    Ive been involved a bit in the ‘volunteer’ side, the politics and red tape involved is ridiculous and it seems to have recently gotten alot worse.

    Free Member

    I hate the idea of “official” trails. Not for me.

    Full Member

    It’s a tricky one. The lady on there says they’re happy to engage where resource allows on natural style trails – but they aren’t really up for huge built jumps or drops.

    In Bristol there are quite a few reps to relatively sensible natural style off piste trails but FE / Natural Trust just don’t want to engage on legitimising any of the off piste stuff it seems. There is an element of SSI – but even avoiding those areas aren’t on the cards.

    Ride Bristol are doing really good work on the Ashton court trails nearby – the here’s not much hills to work with legally there but they’ve done a really nice job to be fair. They’re now doing maintenance on 50 acre wood which is a legally adopted trail – it sounds like perhaps they can get some steeper trails there agreed and built in a natural way – but again there isn’t much hill to work with.

    There are examples of co-operation like Rowberrow on the mendips. The agreed trails are quite good I think – quite a few options there and have been left pretty natural (no trail surfacing). Not sure that’s FE though.

    Full Member

    BIt of a pointless video really. Anyone building ‘unofficial’ trails know they shouldn’t really be dloing it.

    I’ve no problem with official trails as they’re fun and easy to navigate and also don;t generally have other people and dogs to avoid. I’m also not bothered if people build trails, as long as they don’t damage to natural habitat and anyone using them takes responsibilty for them selves and doesn’t start trying to sue builders.

    Full Member

    Forestry England don’t seem very interested in opening / maintaining trails if the very long closure of the once highly popular Aston Hill bike park near Wendover is anything to go by.

    Free Member

    The inevitable consequence of involving FE is loads of effort for little practical gain IME

    There are examples of co-operation like Rowberrow on the mendips.

    Not all of us locals are especially happy about the Rowberrow trails.

    Prior to FE and Ridemendip’s agreements being made, there was a wider and arguably better network of un-authorised trails present throughout Rowberrow. Enforcing against the trails was impossible for the land owner or FE.

    The formation of Ridemendip just before covid provided a nucleation point for pissed off locals, the local bird shoot and anyone with an anti mtb view to form up on, and there was some nasty stuff that went on through the first couple of lock downs.

    We’ve now lost all but 2 lines that have become official and those 2 have had all of the traffic focussed on land that can’t handle the numbers and has eroded and been blown out, requiring loads of maintenance that Ridemendip is struggling to resource and has fundamentally changed the trails from unique, local tight tree lined singletrack speeder-bike tracks into generic, wide, just another trail centre track without the decent surface.

    We’d never had it so good until ride Mendip and the FE agreed to formalise.

    *Sighs, sits back in rocking chair and sucks on pipe, muttering about back in my day*

    Full Member

    Forestry in Scotland is great – if you are only based in Tweed Valley, rest of the country is a constant fight…so depending on where in Scotland you come for a look, you may get a different outlook.

    Full Member

    Forestry England don’t seem very interested in opening / maintaining trails if the very long closure of the once highly popular Aston Hill bike park near Wendover is anything to go by.

    Aston is a bit of an odd one, everyone was screwed over by a contractor taking the money then running, but it has taken ages to get the ash trees cut

    Free Member

    Not too sure about that video a lot of the trails in the Forest of Dean are maintain much better
    by the locals who built them not the Forestry ones by the Pedalway centre sounds a lot more like lets control people tell them where they can go in the Forest HMMM.

    Free Member

    Kids building trails and messing about on bikes is good. The people moaning about this would be the first to tut and gripe if they saw a gang of hoodies occupying the swings at their local park.

    Free Member

    This article doesn’t represent reality in my experience with regard to FE working with the community. Up until covid our group had a long term agreement (12 years) with FE where a ten mile red graded trail was created, way-marked and maintained to a good standard. Since then we haven’t been allowed to do any work. They have increased their public liability insurance requirement to £10,000,000 which even if you can find someone to insure you the premium is prohibitive. We can no longer work independently and they want us to become official “Forest Volunteers” working under their direction but they have no personnel available to direct us, plus the fact that the “supervisors” have absolutely no experience of trail building/repair. I predict that the trail will be eventually close due to lack of maintenance despite there being several riders and an established group willing to continue working in a similar way to that done previously.

    Free Member

    If you know somewhere good but cheeky, do all you can to keep it that way.

    That means only sharing by word of mouth, preferably face to face. No sick edits. No Strava. No Trailforks. If you injure yourself there, crawl out unless you absolutely can’t.

    If you don’t, the fun police will show up and ruin it. It is what they do.

    If this sounds like a load of childish sneaking around, it is. But then the rules are childish too.

    Full Member

    Providing balance by talking to ‘the other side’ often gets a bit of a kicking as a concept, i appreciate it rather depends on who/what the ‘other side’ is, but would have made it much more interesting in this instance.

    Comments ^above rather proving that.

    Full Member

    My impression of a lot of the larger land owners i.e. FE, CE & DIO (who I think would like to ban EVERYONE) are quite happy to have trails as long as they are bimbletastic blue ones. Now, I’m all in favour of getting as many as possible folks on bikes as can be BUT if you only engage with the building of low level trails then don’t be surprised if more advanced riders go off & build stuff that does entertain them. There is, though, a way to avoid that happening….

    Full Member

    Given the squeeze on national budgets I wouldn’t be surprised if FE gets privatised. Then it will only be a few money making centres, with very low risk that are left open 😔. I wonder what all the bike distributors will do when their income dries up because folk move away from the sport?

    Full Member

    To be fair, FoD has had ‘natural’ trails throughout it for generations, as she says, it’s when you start adding features that are slightly dangerous that it gets their attention, especially as when someone does have a bad one on it, it garners a lot of attention and the FE have to combat that.

    As @HobNob says though, they are slow with trailbuilding, trail management, etc, you go over Dowies or Mallards, after they’ve destroyed the area with harvesting the locals have a fair few trails up and running quickly, you have some work done at the centre and trails can be out of commission for weeks or months!

    But again, it’s about how smart folk are at putting the unofficial trails in, most are those well trodden paths that take in natural features, FoD is great for them, but yes, when you get someone sticking a ramp across a path in a well used area, it will have the locals whinging, and FE on the case, which will then have them checking the area, all because one daft ramp being stuck in to do a little road gap.

    My local stuff is even weirder than FoD though, it’s Nibley/Dursley, which has full on tracks with some big scary features, located behind a well used area with big local features, it doesn’t seem to cause too many issues thankfully, bar a couple of years ago when the wooden drop off feature was chainsawed twice, god knows why someone would be so annoyed with something out of their way they’d actually carry a chainsaw up a hill, to then destroy it.

Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)

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