New Forest just escapes all-out ban on cycling
Sorry for the sensationalist headline, but it boils my piss that this is even a thing.
Link to click-baity story in local rag:
You’ve been warned
Basically the Verderers have only granted a one-year continuation for cycle access in the New Forest, and that only on the premise that FE crack down on ‘out of control’ cyclists. “using GPS and other data, targeted ranger patrols will be planned at hotspots for off-track cycling”.
“However, the plans for managing cycling were described as “feeble” by Verderers’ Court member Anthony Pasmore, writing in his New Forest Notes column in the A&T last week.
He said: “We are not dealing with family parties or small urban children, innocently straying off the permitted routes through a lack of understanding, but with gangs of hardcore bikers determined to ride where they please, disturbing the peace and cutting up the Forest.”
Context: The verderers allow access to a forest track ‘network’ which is anything but, not linking up with anywhere remotely useful. There’s plenty of unauthorised haulage tracks which can’t be used – ofetn ones which pass near verderers cottages, which would help link up other tracks. 30 years of lobbying for use of just 2 or 3 of these has come to nothing.
Verderers and commoners have hugely increased the number of stock on the forest, absolutely decimating many areas which are impassable bogs now. 4,000 ponies and 3,000 head of cattle, to make use of subsidies – Brexit may well curtail some of that. But their statements that cycling is destroying habitats is nothing compared to the damage this over farming of wild areas is doing (my conjecture vs their conjecture, neither of which is based on fact, but numbers alone tell a tale).
I can’t believe in this day and age, and in a National Park, that such a self-centred organisation persists and has so much control. And its not like I can go anywhere else at the moment!Posted 1 month ago
The Verderers do appear (and always have appeared) intent on this path and I see no changes coming any time soon. Agreed that the issue of impassable bogs seems to have got worse over the previous 5years. Out of interest do you know the general areas of where these hotspots are as having ridden the New Forest on/off (south of the A31) for over 20years, I’ve never found anything of techie interest!Posted 1 month ago
When they say hotspots, I think they mean the occasional bike leaving a tyre print near a commoners house. There’s nothing you could describe as a mountaoin biking hotspot in the forest!
Th eproblem is the ‘network’ doesnt link up or get you anywhere, so people go for a ride, find themselves in the middle of nowhere, and have to use off-piste tracks to get where they want to go. The verderers are happy to perpetuate this situation as it fuels their fire. We’ve lobbied for over 30 years to add a couple of fire road tracks to teh network to link up key areas – nothing required as all existing – but continuously shut down as this would promote cycling within the forest.
The state of some of teh forest lawns now through over-grazing, trampling and comoners driving over them is shocking – just a somme-like sea of mud. Then they blame cyclists for destruction of the forest!Posted 1 month ago
Reading the article the first thing I thought was that his tyre was a bit slick and racy 🙂
Not being a local is the law of the land different in the New Forest. If so surely trespass is a civil matter rather than a criminal one and people on bikes should just carry on riding it?
Just did a quick google on Verders and Wikipedia (sorry) says; “The [Verders] Court has the same status as a Magistrates Court.” and that they manage it on behalf of the crown and to protect the commoners rights or such like.
So does that mean they can take you to their little magistrates court for riding a cheeky trail? Finally surely we’re classed as commoners and have an equal right to use it for cycling, just the same way a common farmer can let his livestock trample all over it?Posted 1 month ago
Doesn’t surprise me as it’s pretty much the capital for swivel eyed anti bike nimbys down there. Totally agree on the impact the roaming stock (and horse riders) do in loads of places, it’s churned into a quagmire most of the winter. The erosion argument is bollocks obviously when you compare it to that. I’ve also never come across anything at all exciting in many years of riding it but I’ve kinda given up exploring, because I can’t be bothered with the potential grief.
I can’t see them banning it completely as it would have a huge effect on the local industry. Brockenhurst gets rammed with hire bikes in the summer, plus lots of campers bringing bikes too. But I guess if somewhere were to go ultra militant with it, it would be the New Forest.Posted 1 month ago
Mmmm,,,Posted 1 month ago
Kinder ScoutNew ForesT Trespass anyone?
This boils my piss.
The verderers are a joke. Half of them (5) are elected by the commoners. The commoners (roughly 300 people) are those with rights (either interited or bought) to graze their animals on the forest, and of the ones I’ve met, are awful people.
Yes, the verderers *SHOULD* be protecting the forest, but they aren’t: They object to changing road junctions that kill cyclists (Ipley). They close carparks focusing visitors into increasingly overused areas, and go on to object (block) toilets and bins in those carparks due to aesthetics.
the cycle network is totally unusable outside of 3 mile loops from the overused remaining carparks.
I’ve lived here my whole life and have been all over it on my MTB since the early 90s. it’s been the same all that time.
I gave up fighting years ago, but would love to know if cyclists are actually represented in any way in the New forest now?Posted 1 month ago
Do they really expect anyone to listen to their antiquated nimbyism.Posted 1 month ago
Why anyone would travel to the New Forest to ride a bike there is beyond me – too much traffic and pretty dull scenery. Carry on driving and go for a ride in the Purbecks instead.Posted 1 month ago
Do they really expect anyone to listen to their antiquated nimbyism.
Sadly, yes a lot of people here do.Posted 1 month ago
I’m 6 months into living in Scotland after 20 years in Hampshire. It’s fair to say the absurdity of the situation in the NF through a Scottish lens is bordering on comical.
The GPS thing – do they meant Strava heat maps that they can see where people ride? Probably should be avoided having your rides public and adding to their ‘evidence’.Posted 1 month ago
Its a shame because if they gave bikes the same access as horses ie everywhere, it would be really pleasant to ride there. Some of the higher up, grassy heathland can be fun to ride. And there’s so much of it so you’d never get overcrowding. But that’s not happening.Posted 1 month ago
Or some well placed GPS ‘art’…Posted 1 month ago
WTF is this nonsense?Posted 1 month ago
I used to have to travel to / through the New Forest to see my mum in New Milton, sadly she passed away last year but before she did I spent quite a lot of time caring for her and so alternated weeks there with my brother.
Took my gravel bike down and had a few fairly nice rides, explored a bit, was ok.
Didn’t really change my mind that in all the years I have spent visiting since she moved there in about 1988 I have never been sad to leave the area, it’s too busy, there seems to be a massive wealth inequality, large numbers of expensive fast cars crawling around at 30mph, shitty down at heal places mixed in with bloody expensive hamlets, bland scenery, restrictive medieval laws, I guess millions of old daily mail reading Brexit voters, schools advertised as “bespoke education”, boring boring boring boring boring. Soon as the house is sold I will never ever have to go there again thank god.Posted 1 month ago
“Urban children” was the phrase that got me. That’s all you need to know.Posted 1 month ago
hate it, the Verderers can shove the whole forest up their small minded arsesPosted 1 month ago
Bit much Nick! You could say something similar about anywhere in England. The new forest is a lovely place to ride a bike. There are miles
of well-drained gravel tracks that take you through oak forests, heathland and down to the sea. Some days during the week in the winter you can ride 100km and hardly see another soul.
This stuff about the verderers is the same noise that I’ve heard pretty much every year my whole life. I just ignore it, there’s nothing they can do about cyclists. Ironically if a sensible proportion of the Nf was officially open to cycling I’d be more likely to follow the rules. As it is, I’ll continue to ride my bike where I like, responsibly, shutting gates, taking my litter home and leaving no trace I was there (other than supporting local independent coffee and cake shops). Consequently I’ll be doing less damage than the vast majority of visitors.Posted 1 month ago
I live right on (outside) the border of the NF and agree with Dovebiker that nobody in their right mind would travel to ride the forest. In honesty, I don’t think they do – not purely to ride and then go home again
It’s a large bog with some dry patches and in winter is ruined in large areas by passage of hooves – not boots and certainly not tyres
The verderers claim that the increased numbers aren’t all “on” the forest – oh, no, there’s thousands of animals in the little fenced fields you see dotted about (strokes chin). Course, the commoners get a grant for the stock as 40mpg said – and the verderers collect a marking fee for each one; vested interests all roundPosted 1 month ago
I have enjoyed a few gravel rides there. Mainly out of season. I suspect summer wood be harder work with more people about. My memory of the Strava heat map is that I couldn’t find any off piste hot spots. I’m not saying that there is no evidence of riding off the permitted routes. But it’s nothing like say Woburn where it stands out like a spot light at any scalePosted 1 month ago
The Verderers (and Anthony Pasmore in particular) are weapons grade *****. I’m just over the border in Dorset but regularly ride out into the Forest. I mostly stick to north of the A31 to avoid the majority of the visitors and walkers. I will be giving the Verderers and their rules a thorough ignoring and will continue to ride any of the large gravel paths anywhere in the forest. The couple of Rangers I have spoken with when out riding think that they are arseholes too.
It’s not just cyclists they hate. They have banned the Beaulieu model flying club from flying in the summer months. What is the point in having an RC model flying club that is only allowed to operate in winter when you can’t fly most of the time. Apparently this is to “protect the wildlife”.
Pricks, the lot of themPosted 1 month ago
The New Forest is a nice area only cycled in there once when I was down there for MTB bike race no hills and I have been MTBing for 33 years as said above Purbecks and Wareham forest/Puddletown forest are way better they have problem with Roadies down there let alone people going off-road.Posted 1 month ago
‘Gangs’ of ‘hardcore bikers’ eh. Crivens.
Sounds like Sons of Anarchy.Posted 1 month ago
It’s a little bit of 2020 feudalism isn’t it.Posted 1 month ago
‘Gangs’ of ‘hardcore bikers’ eh. Crivens.
Sounds like Sons of Anarchy.
Except instead of violence you are surrounded by the gang and have to listen to a Shimano vs SRAM debate until you lose the will to live and hang yourself from a nearby tree.
Joking aside its hard to believe this sort of nimbyism and control over a large tract of land is still allowedPosted 1 month ago
Except instead of violence you are surrounded by the gang and have to listen to a Shimano vs SRAM debate until you lose the will to live and hang yourself from a nearby tree.
Oi I resemble that remark 🤔. Actually that’s a good ploy, once lockdown ends we can take the nimbys to the pub and just talk about drivetrains, preferred bottom bracket standards, what tyres for intermittent bog and heathland, that sort of thing and then their heads will explode from bike talk overload like that scene at the end of Kingsman?
I only ride in the NF if it’s a ride that involves meeting friends or we’ve popped down for a quick weekend camping just find it a bit meh.
Years ago I recall one of the verderers or commoners was outed for running a bike friendly business under one name and constantly slagging off cyclists in the local paper under another.
Don’t get me wrong though… for young, generic, family friendly cycling it should be blooming fantastic, a massive network of gravel tracks, more tea shops than you can eat, some good pubs and wide open spaces with animals.
It’s not the cyclists injuring horses and cattle is it? Where is the ire for the abysmal driving I see every time I visit?Posted 1 month ago
Bit much Nick!
No. He’s right.
I’m actually from New Milton originally. I lived there until I left to go to Uni. The ‘forest’ (its not a forest but a bunch of crappy heathland bogs and plantation forestry) is pretty in a sort of plain way, but once I got out I realised how parochial it all is.
It’s relentlessly crap for what I consider quality mtb, and has bugger all elevation.
I should think gravelistas like it a great deal for exactly the same reasons.
I won’t voluntarily ever go back there, even to be buried in the family plot.Posted 1 month ago
I enjoy the odd ride there, mostly with the family. I’ve always assumed that anything gravel is perfectly fine to ride, given it’s a fire road. I take it that’s not the case? What can they actually do about it just have a right old moan at you?Posted 1 month ago
Well, I like itPosted 1 month ago
@curto80 yeah you’re right, I’m completely over reacting, its weird, it just feels so unwelcoming, plus it’s hard to find a decent pub, at least around New Milton, Brockenhurst etc, and I definitely like it more in winter, way less people, summer is awful, taking my mum to Mudeford the traffic aaaarghh.
And breath 🙂Posted 1 month ago
Yeah winter is by far the best time of year. One of those cold crisp days when the sun shines. Love a run across dearlepe on days like that.Posted 1 month ago
Sounds a bit like the 6000 acre Ashdown Forest in Sussex. Bikes are hated and despite previous battles, no progress has been made as far as I know, the board of conservators and their archaic Acts and Byelaws deem it incompatible with other users of the forest.
Probably crap riding anyway but it’s the principle that large areas can be made off limits that needs to be fought.Posted 1 month ago
gangs of hardcore bikers determined to ride where they please, disturbing the peace
Brilliant! WTF is the New Forest in post apocalyptic Australia? I’m nowhere near the new forest but now I want to go there dressed as Toecutter and ride about making motorbike noises.Posted 1 month ago
Don’t forget these are the people who for years vetoed any changes to a junction where multiple people were killed or seriously injured, in order to preserve 72 square metres of grass.
First time I rode an MTB in the Forest was 30 years ago almost to the day. The exact same vapid arguments were happening then, too.Posted 1 month ago
This is my job. I’ve been writing a presentation on this very subject today.
It’s not quite as simple as it all seems. The press article probably doesn’t accurately represent the thoughts around the issue. Papers want to sell papers so pick sensationalist views to represent local issues which doesn’t really help in finding a solution long term.
The Forest is a great place to cycle, there are loads of nice places to cycle but most of the network is gravel tracks, you’re right, the current available tracks are only a proportion of the man-made gravel track network that could be used. I moved here 20 yrs ago from Wales with a full suss, found that boring and moved onto a rigid mtb and now ride a carbon gravel rocket. It’s the best bike for the New Forest.
Grazing aside, the Forest is very important ecologically, in a European context even and it’s designations uphold this. It’s the biggest mosaic of lowland heathland, valley mire (peat reserve) and ancient pasture woodland in Western Europe. It has some of the most undisturbed catchments and cleanest streams and rivers in the country. Some of the oldest and most ecologically rich trees in Europe are here, in vast numbers. Someone once described it to me as being like the uk’s rainforest. The soils are so poor and thin it was never attractive for farming so never got dug up and “improved”, it is so boggy that nobody could build on it. It’s got pretty much every conservation designation known and is home to plants and animals that are not surviving or doing well in the rest of the uk. Some (wetland birds for example) aren’t even doing that well here now for various reasons.
Recreationally the Forest also gets 15.7 million day visits per yr. that’s a lot. The place is rammed every weekend at the moment. People come here because it’s a great place to visit, there’s plenty of access and it’s near to where they live.
Balancing those two things above isn’t easy, even without the commoning (verderers) angle. The Forest is managed by Forestry England but we need consent of Natural England, the Verderers (for some things) and the National Park Authority to get things changed or improved. Balancing meeting legislation, which we are obliged to by law, with meeting the needs of the public and also improving the ecological value of the place, on a limited budget isn’t easy.
We all want to ride our bikes everywhere we want to in the rest of England don’t we? Most places realistically we can’t. We have to stick to outdated bridleways and permissive routes officially in other places. The Forest is no different. There is no legal right to ride a bike anywhere unfortunately as there are very few bridleways etc due to access legislation dating from 1925. The permitted cycle network was an attempt to solve that and get some legitimate permissive access for cyclists.
It’s a bit of a catch 22 at the moment. The network isn’t really a network and doesn’t join up. It’s 25 yrs old, was a compromise then, and is out of date; cycling is different today, bikes are different, habits have changed etc. Gravel is the new golf. As a result of some of this, and other reasons, off network and off track cycling is widespread, particularly since the covid unlocking last summer. There are many reasons for this. The problem with it though is that because it is so widespread and visible the organisations that we need to help unlock wider access don’t believe that it can be done without encouraging further off track cycling. As a collective of cyclists we need to do our bit to convince them that we can do the right thing if we want to see change.
Theres also some work to be done putting things into context and reducing the noise around cycling. The papers don’t help, even the picture in the article of some 90’s Lycra’d up mtb’er stood up blasting up a muddy track doesn’t help. Something like only 5-6% of visitors here are cycling off rd. Most stick to the network or tracks that are not really causing any harm or damage. Some people are just going for a walk locally with their kids with their bike. Some people do end up in places that most of us (us on here) would probably think isn’t reasonable or sensible. This equally applies to walkers and horse riders, they also end up in places that aren’t appropriate at inappropriate times of the yr (bird nesting season etc). There is work being done to try to influence this activity as well.
The trick is to try to find ways of maintaining or enhancing the recreational offer as there huge value in people being able to use the Forest and understand its importance, get some fresh air and exercise and improve their physical and mental health. The aim is to be able to facilitate this whilst minimising the impact of people and activity all whilst improving the ecological value of what we know is a very special place.
Work is being done on finding a way forward on this stuff.
Take a look here
Doesn’t surprise me as it’s pretty much the capital for swivel eyed anti bike nimbys down there.
One of the worst Tory MPs (what a claim!), Desmond Swayne in seat for 20 years – check
Very high Brexit vote even though being in EU or not is even less relevant here – check
A lot of racist people even though 99.9% of people are white – check
I have lived in New Forest for 20 years and all the comments made by people above are true. However it suits my lifestyle (very peaceful in my village which is a mix of well off and very poor but we all get on well)
I actually enjoy the cycling (road and off road) but I always cycle at 08:00 so rarely see anyone so for me its is about riding a bike that makes riding the very tame off road a bit more fun/challenging.
Over the 20 years I have ridden wherever I want and have even ridden straight past forest rangers on single track I am not supposed to be riding on and we just say hello to each other so I haven’t found any problems. If I do encounter anyone walking I slow down to 3mph as I know I have no rights to be riding there but I do occasionally get shouted at by people walking but they typically have a dog off the lead in an area where dogs should be on leads so that is always a good retort!Posted 1 month ago
Not really. Just live and let live as it is not actually as big a problem as you/others make out as is always the case with these types of topics.Posted 1 month ago
WTF is this nonsense?
@squirrelking I think they’re talking about Game Of Thrones maybe? or Warhammer?Posted 1 month ago
That thin soil and fragile heathland is being grazed to **** and then trampled to oblivion. If I was a ground-nesting bird I’d be looking for some cover, not a billiard-table covering of green if I’m lucky or else a pock-marked mess that’s either boggy mud or set like concrete – either way, there’ll be no grass shoots.
The few hundred people around here with “rights” are just taking the piss out of the rest of us. That’s why they’re disliked and ignoredPosted 1 month ago
Kerley. Problem is people don’t just live and let live and not everyone subscribes to rule 1. Not everyone’s as sensible as you, that includes all users.
When you’ve got somewhere as ecologically special as the new forest and such demand for use of it you have to find some balance. Look at the new housing that’s being built within striking distance of the place. We need to find a better way, we are trying to, to make sure the place is worth coming to see, riding in, in the future.
What I should have said is it’s a tough nut to crack when the views of “either side” are so far apart and laws meant to protect the forest are difficult to navigate, for mostly good reason. I think also in reality peoples views are mostly not too far apart but that doesn’t sell papers and sensationalist “news” doesn’t help us at all.
There’s a forum that we work with, the Cycle Working Group, that are representing the views of cyclists, most of us representing the statutory bodies are also keen cyclists. I think it’s time for change and the status quo just isn’t sustainable or helpful for anyone. You can feed your views in via the waterside cycle group, Christchurch cycle club, cycling uk, either woods Cyclery or cycle experience or if you’re a local cycling club that uses the Forest you can join. It’s important to make sure your voice is heard through a productive channel.
I’m a cyclist, have been riding off rd since I was a kid in the late eighties but have the task, with others of trying to sort this out and find some progress. I have to see things from both sides of the fence in my role, I have to. My work in the past has seen me get investment in trails at Moors Valley, get agreement from our landlord at puddletown forest for cycle access and meet cyclists groups there and find resources to find a long term solution. Things are different again in the new forest due to the importance of the ecological interest but I’m keen find a decent way forward that helps us all.Posted 1 month ago
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