Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack

  • This topic has 336 replies, 90 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by  AntM.
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  • Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack
  • Premier Icon funkynick
    Subscriber

    But surely all riding should be responsible riding wherever you are…

    In some respects I think making a very big thing about responsible riding in a single location could tend to make people less worried about it everywhere else. It shouldn’t just be something which is highlighted in certain areas, it should be all pervasive.

    For my two-penneth, while I would not want to see hoards of people riding the Cairngorm plateau, I see no problem with responsible access. Likewise I don’t want to see hoards of walkers up there either.

    CaptJon
    Member

    trailmonkey – Member

    What we see here is the authorised heritage discourse. This is the interpretation and implementation of heritage resources as dictated by the thoughts of ususally unelected, white, middle class science and history professionals. It ultimately leads to exclusion and seperation of people from the landscape as was the case in Yellowstone and at Uluru.
    Luckily, UNESCO are starting to drift away from this and are designating heritage areas as cultural landscapes which recognise the need and value of human interaction with the landscape.
    Sadly the influence of the AHD is so pervasive that most of us just accept the so called ‘importance’ of tags like SSSI, without thinking to question them.

    You are Laura-Jane Smith and i claim my Β£5.

    Part of my thesis examined the AHD, small world.

    +1 Sanny
    This was sounding like a Daily Mail type anti-cycling, pro-rambler thread.
    I really don’t see how the thousands of walkers do any less damage than the relatively few cyclists.
    As said, it is about responsible use by all groups.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    many folk south of the border

    If I wasn’t trying to be a nicer person I’d tell you to folk off for being so sanctimonious.

    messiah
    Member

    Sanny, I thought it was a good example of aspirational journalism as it made me want to ride my bike.

    I will get worried though if groups plan to head of and ride such routes… but I’m sure the Scottish weather will do it’s utmost to upset such plans, and then you have the midges to contend with, then the climbs themselves, the hike-a-bike sections, the map-work, the exposure, the rocky paths, and the general constant nagging feeling of “what if it all goes wrong”.

    yunki
    Member

    but I’m sure the Scottish weather will do it’s utmost to upset such plans, and then you have the midges to contend with, then the climbs themselves, the hike-a-bike sections, the map-work, the exposure, the rocky paths, and the general constant nagging feeling of “what if it all goes wrong”.

    mountain biking by definition..

    Thanks for all the traffic and particular thanks to Sanny for the detailed reply.
    It comes down to responsible access and whether you believe bikes do more damage than feet. I think the clear consensus here is the plateau is the wrong place for mb’s. These rights were hard won – don’t help to create the context for them to be rolled back.
    How about some mention of this deabte in Singletrack sometime soon – you owe it to all those wee ptarmigans metioned way back at the start.
    Now I am off to TGO to give McPish a hard time about pacerpoles – they are the work of Satan.

    7hz
    Member

    Why don’t mountain bikers have a body that represents us and looks after the trails and such? Or do we, and I just don’t know about it? Surely such a thing would be worth Β£10, Β£20, Β£40 of our money a year?

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Messiah

    You hit the nail on the head. I had to wait several months before I was able to get up there then got very lucky two weekends in a row. I fully expect there will be a posting at some point saying how awful a route it is / too hard / too much carrying / too many midges / awful weather. πŸ˜€

    The Cairngorms will always be a choice for a fairly select band of riders who I suspect already have many years of experience of being in the hills. The remoteness of the route and the lack of easy bail points will continue to ensure that it is never a popular ride destination. After all, who in their right mind would go on a ride with almost 7,000 feet of climbing in it? You’d have to be crackers! Wouldn’t catch me doing that, no siree! πŸ˜†

    As for the journalist bit, steady on there! I’ve been called many things but never that. Ha! Ha!

    Cheers

    Sanny

    we do, just no one joins it

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    I think the clear consensus here is the plateau is the wrong place for mb’s

    The clear consensus is that there is no consensus.

    πŸ˜‰ @ capt.john

    at least you’ll understand the cut of my post

    Premier Icon bedmaker
    Subscriber

    From the N tional park website:

    A very large area. The Park is 4528 sq kilometres in area, over twice the size the Lake District and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
    A mountainous area. 5 of Scotland’s 6 highest mountains are within the Park, there are 55 summits over 900 metres. 36% of the land area is over 800 metres and 2% is over 1000 metres.
    An arctic wilderness. The land above 600 metres – known as the ‘montane zone’ – is the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in the British isles.

    So, taking the bit above 800m, that is 1630 sq K. A path is say, 600mm wide, so 100 K of path take up an area of 0.06 sq K.

    Assuming MTBers stick to established paths (does anybody really ride up tto the top of Carn ban mhor then bomb back down over the heather??) the area affected by their manic skidding is so minute it is really a non issue imo.

    Still, I do agree that publicising it in a mag with such a wide circulation does wind up some people so it’s maybe not the best idea.

    Premier Icon DaRC_L
    Subscriber

    Sanny I enjoyed the article, I could read it and think that it sounds interesting but like other places needs some respect. As the Messiah said it looks like a fair bit of working it out for yourself to get there and you might get crucified by the weather/midges.

    I could enjoy the article vicariously as living a few miles north of the south coast the Alps are closer than the Cairngorms.

    Assuming MTBers stick to established paths

    ‘established paths’ become established motorways with heavy traffic, one of the advantages of Scotland’s access laws is that open access causes a reduction in the development of massive ‘highway’ footpaths like those evident in more populous and restricted areas. the means of erosion control necessary on very popular routes are very expensive.

    I’m not sure any of that would apply on Cairngorm though, as has been said it’s unlikely it’ll end up with a massive increase in traffic.

    geoffj – Member

    “I think the clear consensus here is the plateau is the wrong place for mb’s”

    The clear consensus is that there is no consensus.

    I agree with Geoff – there is no clear consensus just a debate. I have discussed this one with many folk mountaineers and mountain bikers and there is no clear consensus at all – its about a 50 / 50 split IME

    I’ve not read the article but I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve also ridden with Sanny a few times and know first hand how seriously he takes erosion issues and responsible riding. In fact the constant, No Skidding, Keep to the Path can be a bit boring… especially when he comes here and tells me off for skidding on my own trails! πŸ˜‰ Did Sanny not also write an article a few months ago where he strongly criticised some guy for riding off the path on Ben Lomond?

    The access issues are so complex and there are arguments on both sides. I can find very little evidence of MTB erosion here, however what I see here is the damage that irresponsible MX’rs can do, stuff that I know has been ridden for decades can be ruined in a week when some idiot puts it on Wikiloc and MX’rs ride it on a wet weekend.

    My mag should be here this week so I’m looking forward to reading the article then.

    irc
    Member

    The plateaux is Kms wide, the paths yards wide. Riding the existing paths? No problem. Seems Ok for the northside of Cairngorm to have ski facilities visible from the moon but a few MTBs use the paths on the tops and the treehuggers are up in arms.

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Doug

    Ssshussh! You’ll spoil my reputation as eco terrorist with that posting!

    I’m glad you remember just as I told you, skids are for kids! πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Beagleboy

    There is a definite irony to your post. You say you spent two months on the plateau working on a project that facilitated the construction of a hulking great lump of a funicular? I’d be interested to compare the impact of my tyres on two rides with the impact of your walking boots for the two months you spent on the plateau. πŸ˜‰

    Cheers

    Sanny

    I’ve not read the article but because if this thread I’m off up there to shred it to bits on my Orange Five. Yes I live south of the border so i’ll be pulling loads of skids too.

    fergal
    Member

    Sanny +1
    Way too snowy for bicycle eco terrorism, i’m off to Sneachda to send “The Magic Crack” for a winter climbers version, the crack now stripped of pesky lichen and turf, is now fair game for my axes and bicycling crampons.

    There needs to be perspective, a few mtbrs is a drop in the ocean compared to the numbers of skiers, ramblers and winter climbers.

    Premier Icon snowslave
    Subscriber

    I read the article, and found it inspirational.

    I wish the article hadn’t mentioned sticking to paths, because now I am confused with information from the tinternet. Blimey why is everything so flippin complicated?

    I note the warning that it might be difficult to get my Orange 5 up there, especially as I am a soft English type who doesn’t care about conservation issues. I guess we’ve never needed to conserve anything down here, that’s why we own Scotland. It’s a big conservation theme park, peopled entirely by offspring of David Bellamy, who learned a lot in England then emigrated to Scotland, where thankfully it is still possible to ride according to the principles of Jainism.

    jamesb
    Member

    for Sanny;
    no it is not presence of MTBs that would offend me but teh potential for damage by irresponsible riding, eg going flat out along the paths, sliding around corners, skidding down descents. This is what to me separates walking erosion from potential MTB erosion issues. Would MTBers riding up on the plateau not be tempted to treat it as some super trail centre and ride in a manner akin to trail centres rather than in a touring mode? If I recall correctly from the article reference is made to fabulous descents, don`t tell me that part of teh fun is not going as fast as you can down them leading to skidding ??

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Why do you make a direct connection between riding fast and skidding? The two are not necessarily linked. Responsible riding can involve speed AND not skidding. It could be argued that sitting on the brakes all the way down a descent would increase the likelihood of dragging the rear wheel. or do you consider riding fast as irresponsible?

    Are fell runners more irresponsible than walkers?

    Dave
    Member

    Clearly responsible access calls for a permit system to restrict numbers up there.

    First come first served, for walkers and riders. 10 a month should keep things pristine no?

    I think we should apply to the EU for a grant to put a roof up.

    “Would MTBers riding up on the plateau not be tempted to treat it as some super trail centre and ride in a manner akin to trail centres”

    Have you been up there? It feels super vast, mountainous, isolated and subject to extreme weather. An injury can be really serious. Nothing like a trail centre.

    Sanny – I am going to continue to call the decision to write and publish (particularly publish) an article that encourages riding on the Cairngorm Plateau moronic. Fair enough the article may or may not feature a route that is already eroded by walkers and it may or may not mention that the plateau is a fragile habitat. But this next bit is where I have a problem – anyone that knows how to act responsibly in a place like that doesnt need an magazine article to figure a route out for themselves. The article will only serve to get people up there who dont have a clue what they are riding over. These people will get lost up there and will end up riding all over the most fragile elements of the ecosystem.

    mmm

    Being serious for a minute I can’t see it attracting anyone that’s not a bit of a specialist to go up there.

    Not sure I could see some monster energy swiggers being arsed to put the work in to be honest.

    It does look ‘super vast’ and gnarley man

    CaptJon
    Member

    Surrounded By Zulus – Member
    Sanny – I am going to continue to call the decision to write and publish (particularly publish) an article that encourages riding on the Cairngorm Plateau moronic. Fair enough the article may or may not feature a route that is already eroded by walkers and it may or may not mention that the plateau is a fragile habitat. But this next bit is where I have a problem – anyone that knows how to act responsibly in a place like that doesnt need an magazine article to figure a route out for themselves. The article will only serve to get people up there who dont have a clue what they are riding over. These people will get lost up there and will end up riding all over the most fragile elements of the ecosystem.

    Rubbish. I work with environmental managers and physical geographers who research things like soil erosion and cold environments, and part of my thesis examined issues of conservation so I understand how to treat sensitive landscapes. I’ve walked up to the plateau twice with students and, because we understand the sensitivity of the area, we pay for local rangers to act as guides. Yet i didn’t know there was a mountain bike route of the top. A colleague and I are considering taking our bikes on the field trip this year because of this article.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Loathe to get involved in this, but it’s not really a problem if people stick to the paths, is it?

    And who’s more likely to stray from the paths? Walkers or bikers?

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    The first poster said it himself – he doesn’t have the legs to get involved with a route like this. He can join the club – 99%+ of mountain bikers don’t have the legs, inclination or proximity to get up there. So the reality of it (versus the perception) is that it’s self-regulating and completely sustainable for such a massive area and the miniscule numbers of cyclists we’re talking about. Certainly harmless in comparison to the hiking that gets done.

    If you want to argue the perception of mountain biking there then I’d have to agree that’s a more contentious issue. Guess that’s the nub of the issue with publicising the route in print.

    CaptJon – did you read what I wrote? Because if you did you seem to have totally missed my point. Also – there isnt a mountain bike route anywhere outside of a trail centre in scotland, they are merely paths used by people pursuing a number of recreational activities.

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Stick to the paths… That’s the way to be responsible.

    The article specifically states ‘stick to the paths’ and explains at various points why you should do this. I’m happy to debate the issues around access to this area but being called ‘moronic’ is stepping over the mark and frankly insulting.

    CaptJon
    Member

    Surrounded By Zulus – Member
    CaptJon – did you read what I wrote? Because if you did you seem to have totally missed my point. Also – there isnt a mountain bike route anywhere outside of a trail centre in scotland, they are merely paths used by people pursuing a number of recreational activities.

    Someone put a route together for me which i’d not be able to do because i don’t know what the local paths are like. A tried and test route ready for action; a bit more countryside opened up for mountain bikers to ride.

    Mark – do you really think its responsible to promote riding on the MacDui plateau in a national magazine

    Altho it might not generate a lot of extra traffic it might. Several people on this thread has commented on how folk are organising group rides on it as a result of the article.

    While it can be debated whether or not it is possible to have responsible access to the plateau on a bike I really don’t see how publicising it in a magazine can be anything but irresponsible. Its not as if there is not lots of other riding in the area that is perfectly acceptable.

    This is a very special and fragile landscape of international importance

    druidh
    Member

    I swing both ways on this one. I believe that it’s too easy to attract additional visitors by publishing routes. However, I also tend to think that at the moment this one is pretty-much self regulating on account of its remoteness and the challenge of getting there. I’ve often said it’s strange that thousands of walkers following the same route make a path but one cyclist causes erosion πŸ˜•

    (Gratuitous Cairngorm summit photo)

    2008-07-28 16-37-40 by druidh_dubh, on Flickr

    However, there are many who would like to see a full-on trail developed from the Ptarmigan down to either the car park or even Glen More, using the funicular for uplift. That would only ever be possible if the developers and conservationists were convinced that they’d not e encouraging wider access. It seems to me that articles like the one in question are likely to suggest otherwise.

    druidh
    Member

    TandemJeremy – Member
    Mark – do you really think its responsible to promote riding on the MacDui plateau in a national magazine

    Altho it might not generate a lot of extra traffic it might. Several people on this thread has commented on how folk are organising group rides on it as a result of the article.

    While it can be debated whether or not it is possible to have responsible access to the plateau on a bike I really don’t see how publicising it in a magazine can be anything but irresponsible. Its not as if there is not lots of other riding in the area that is perfectly acceptable.

    This is a very special and fragile landscape of international importanceAnd yet TJ, I can look to the bookshelf on my left and see at least seven guide-books aimed at walkers, all promoting access to the same paths. Do you have none?

    CaptJon
    Member

    Yeah but walkers deserve to enjoy the countryside and areas of intergalactic ecological significance. Mountain bikers don’t.

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