Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack

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  • Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack
  • Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    jonathan – Member
    …For TJ (only as an example) the conservation of an environment like this is fundamentally important… as important to his identity as the aboriginal people’s relationship with bits of Uluru is to theirs.

    Highland Scots are the aboriginal people here, and as one I don’t mind southerners and the like walking/riding on our mountains.

    The Loch Lomond issue could have been handled simply by having an alcohol ban. That would have kept the neds away. It is a dangerous precedent, and one of the reasons I’ll oppose any restrictions no matter how worthy.

    Premier Icon Brown
    Subscriber

    I love it.

    To paraphrase this thread:

    “Walkers, climbers and skiers go up there and damage stuff so we can too!”

    How is that an argument? (Clue: it isn’t…)

    j_me
    Member

    Agreed. A good thread that covers a lot of issues around the sensitivity of the Cairngorm plateau and what constitutes responsible access. Far more coverage than in the original actual article, which despite allocating several column inches to the Tesco’s Finest range of bike snacks, relegates these issues to a footnote tacked onto the end of the article like an afterthought ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Premier Icon Sanny
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    Brown

    That’s not the argument. It’s one of why are other users capable of reasonable access but bikers aren’t. If they do damage, why is there no push to restrict their access. Fundamentally, the issue is whether it is reasonable for us to ride on an existing network of trails that we also walk on.

    Premier Icon Brown
    Subscriber

    That’s not the argument. It’s one of why are other users capable of reasonable access but bikers aren’t. If they do damage, why is there no push to restrict their access. Fundamentally, the issue is whether it is reasonable for us to ride on an existing network of trails that we also walk on.

    I know it’s not the argument. That was my point. But it is the pathetic ‘argument’ that gets wheeled out again and again (and has been several times on this thread) as to why it’s ok to ride in delicate areas. It is used to justify riding in these places, rather than look at the issue of whether it’s reasonable or not – which is the debate you are trying to have. Just because someone else does something wrong doesn’t make it ok for you to as well. Just because a walking guide is published doesn’t mean it should have been. And it doesn’t mean it’s ok to write a biking guide.

    NB – I’m not trying to attack your article, just the unthoughtout arguments made here. I have written mountain bike route guides, so I am in a similar position to you.

    Premier Icon duckman
    Subscriber

    Before I get to the points raised by Sanny.

    now you betray a naive belief that we live in a democracy ?

    Not for a moment Simon,thanks for backing up my point.

    Sanny, there was a bit of chat opened by a group of staff because I was wearing a Cove t-shirt on the Saturday.The general thrust was that a) it was bad enough with the amount of traffic it already got.(they also suggested they have been avoiding the really sensitive parts of the plateau)
    b) That it would catch people out, as I am sure you are aware the weather gets really filthy,really quickly, up there.
    Now I have to declare an interest,I did my ML through the lodge.They use it,BUT when we did the ML we were even putting back the rocks we had used to stop out tents blowing away during the summer gales exactly where we got them.They also avoid new paths and push responsible access very strongly.I also feel that peoples right to earn a living outweighs our recreational rights of access. I did my presentation on historical land use ( I hate tundra plants.) So if bikes had to be banned so the guides could still take people up there and earn a living,then fair enough.I agree with you on this;

    Is the worry that our very presence there so offends and that one or several walkers may take umbrage at us being there that we shouldnโ€™t be there at all? If there is one thing this thread makes clear, it is that we are all acutely aware of our environment and our potential impact on it.

    However I feel that the people who own and manage the land are far more likely to listen to any argument from the walking community,how many people are likely to be impacted from a ban on walking? Much more than a ban on cycling.Who contributes more to the local economy? Folks can post the I am a responsible biker as much as they like,not everybody will be.

    How is that an argument? (Clue: it isn’t…)

    you must be new to this Brown. What people say during a discussion is their argument (“No it isn’t!”, “Yes it is” etc) unless it’s completely irrelevant like “My hovercraft is full of eels”, and whether you agree with it or not does not undermine the fact.

    In this case, being entitled to cause as much erosion as other users seems quite democratic even if some might consider it weak.

    Premier Icon Brown
    Subscriber

    Thanks for that Simon. Helpful as ever.

    MrNutt
    Member

    I’m gonna be driving a 4×4 over there next week, anyone want some samples of this “rare mud” five quid a jam jar? (and yes they are recycled jam jars)

    Helpful as ever.

    you don’t know the half of it. Really.

    zangolin
    Member

    I’m gonna be driving a 4×4 over there next week, anyone want some samples of this “rare mud” five quid a jam jar? (and yes they are recycled jam jars)

    I hope you have sterilised the jam jars?

    MrNutt
    Member

    yep used loads of toilet bleach

    druidh
    Member

    duckman – Member
    Playing Devil’s advocate there Druidh. With regards to Glenmore, the way that they don’t at all suggest any respect for the enviroment you are on,or have local knowledge of which tracks are being overused and should be avoided is a scandal,but then Druidh,as a compleatist you will be well aware of that. I remember you saying there had been a big gap between you starting and finishing your Munros, how much more worn/busier were the paths of any you re-visited?

    99.999% of that wear will have been via the feet of hillwalkers and yet there is no move to limit access to those on foot.

    duckman – Member
    The general thrust was that a) it was bad enough with the amount of traffic it already got.(they also suggested they have been avoiding the really sensitive parts of the plateau)

    And by sticking to the paths, so would any cyclist. And here I take issue with Sannys approach (and defence). In many ways, it would actually have been beter to have made a GPX file of the route available. Wear along one defined corridor would be better than having folk getting lost and cycling all over the place.

    b) That it would catch people out, as I am sure you are aware the weather gets really filthy,really quickly, up there.

    And cyclists are somehow more liable to get caught out? In some ways, I would argue the contrary. By moving at greater speed, a cyclist can escape quicker. this is the ethos also favoured by fell-runners.

    Now I have to declare an interest,I did my ML through the lodge.They use it,BUT when we did the ML we were even putting back the rocks we had used to stop out tents blowing away during the summer gales exactly where we got them.

    I did my winter training at Glenmore. Mixed Scottish climbing often involves the use of ice axes on thin ice and on grassy/turf-covered slopes and ledges. I don’t recall going back and polishing any scratches out of the rocks or replacing any sods levered out.

    I also feel that peoples right to earn a living outweighs our recreational rights of access.

    Really? That was an argument favoured by the landowners when the LR(S)A was going through Holyrood. I take it you;d also back access restrictions during the deer culling and grouse shooting seasons?

    I also feel that peoples right to earn a living outweighs our recreational rights of access.

    I wonder, if this were to be attempted, how many people might reasonably be excluded to enable one job ? 10 ? 1000? 1000000 ?

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Please don’t spoil this thread by responding to Simon in the way your gut wants to. I,ve already described this thread as one of the most reasoned and civilised debates on an important issue in the history of our forum. No really!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    by responding to Simon in the way your gut wants to

    yeah, try thinking with your head, you might get better results ๐Ÿ™‚

    Premier Icon duckman
    Subscriber

    Had a bad day Druidh? As you are well aware,the walkers are the biggest users and creators of erosion,they are also the biggest group contributing to the economy of eg; the Cairngorms.So who would be first banned to minimise impact on the plateau,us or them? I disagree with your suggestion about the moving faster argument. Moving faster is all very good if you can a,nav when the weather really closes in.b,are well enough equipped.One of the above posters mentioned about a group ride,will everybody in that group have extra layers,shelter between them,suitable footwear( I could list more)Also,come on; Bikes will cut corners and widen paths more than walkers currently are.
    When did you do your winter ML? When I did my winter skills course at Glenmore last winter,we were not allowed on the plateau.
    Finally comparing a guide with duct tape holding his breeks together taking small numbers of people onto the plateau is not really the same as a landowner with an estate. Would you not agree,and I am interested to hear what you think, that our responsible behaviour since the RtR has softened the stance of owners? Everybody I know who uses the hills has a bit of sense when the shooting is on.My DoE walks go down glen Tilt in August,I have had nothing but help from the factors.Of course,stalking is not really an issue on most Munros,is it? And certainly not on the top of the plateau where they are culled to keep numbers down to allow the plants a fighting chance.

    Really? That was an argument favoured by the landowners when the LR(S)A was going through Holyrood. I take it you;d also back access restrictions during the deer culling and grouse shooting seasons?

    In the spirit of this debate,rather than reply in kind..No I disagree with any restriction to access,to anywhere within the remit of the act,for any type of self powered user.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    As far as I’m concerned access rights are one of the core freedoms in Scotland, and need to be fought to the last ditch. No exclusions, no thin end of the wedges.

    If we get one area closed off, then others would follow really quickly.

    The big landowners* would be rubbing their hands if they were reading this. All they would need is some environmental excuse, and bang, Scotland is closed just like England.

    We’ve already fought this battle over proposals to reintroduce wolves and bears. Huge fences were going to enclose their areas.

    The answer is education, not exclusion. Punishment for the offenders not the rest of us. If the government wants to protect an area, then it has to provide the resources to do so.

    Another answer is to educate the public about the difference between downhill racing and mtb in general.

    *Scotland is mainly big landowners to an obscene extent.

    jamesb
    Member

    No one so far has mentioned, apart from beagleboy alluding to it, that possibly one of the larger forces of erosion on Gorm plateau is the wind itself moving around the gravel! Possibly / probably natural erosion across the whole plateau will cause considerably more longterm landscape change than walking / MTBing / ice climbing; however latter will cause localised scarring –ie path formation. Watergullies will form / change lanscapes, eg look at the Feshie river braiding at top end of teh valley, a great geological feature but if it were due to actions of man would be seen as unforgiveable erosion. Same can be seen in Lake district, contrast water course damage from flash floods with some of paths damage seen.
    I`m not condoning this path erosion but asking whether we value the landscape / environment for its own sake or for the pleasure (for want of better word) it brings us? so that we can accept natural erosion as being OK, but man created being unacceptable?

    Premier Icon Brown
    Subscriber

    For some reason last night I started another thread. Hopefully it’ll die. What I was trying to say there and thought was a seperate point was this:

    I get annoyed at early comments on this thread suggesting that because walkers and climbers already erode/promote an area, it’s fine for bikers to ride there/publish routes in an area. (Yunki, Druidh and Sanny all make this point.)

    Two wrongs don’t make a right etc. Just because other groups use/erode an area doesn’t mean we can, or more importantly, should. If others don’t take responsibility for their actions, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Maybe riders (magazines?) should stop being jealous that other people use an area, accept that it’s delicate and promote avoiding it. (This isn’t specific to the Cairngorms).

    The side issue is that a lot of bikers show little respecct for or understanding of the countryside (find my other thread for reasons why). It’s a small minority, but, compared with other groups, our erosion/litter etc is very obvious. We are, as has been pointed out, the new kids on the block and there are a lot of people who don’t want us around. Do we need to be squeaky clean?

    Maybe we should avoid some places. Maybe we shouldn’t ride much in the wet.

    Access is a constant issue and often pops up in magazines. I’ve never seen an article on responsible access.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
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    Brown – Member
    …Access is a constant issue and often pops up in magazines. I’ve never seen an article on responsible access.

    My riding is almost exclusively in the highlands. I have seen no evidence of irresponsible access by mtbers.

    If trail repairs are being done, it’s usually local mtbers who are doing it.

    Our biggest danger to the environment here is not access, but the proliferation of all those heavily subsidised altars to the green gods – the windmills.

    bullheart
    Member

    Mark is right; this has been a civilised and thoughtful debate on a subject I’ve never really though about, probably due to geographical issues rather than anything else.

    The strength of this topic is based upon the lack of mudslinging and insults. However, a little humour is always appreciated…

    “My hovercraft is full of eels”

    Mr Barnes; as ever, I salute you ๐Ÿ˜€

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    In terms of relative numbers of users when we were up there, at a conservative estimate, we must have passed between 200 and 250 walkers on the day we headed over from Cairngorm. Ironically, it was something of a challenge to get photos that didnโ€™t have walkers in the background. I also lost count of the number of walkers I saw off path whether to take a leak, take a picture, add to a cairn or eat their pieces away from other people. Perhaps I should have said something to them. Perhaps in future I will.

    That is a staggering number of people and I can’t imagine a situation where bikes would constitute any more than a tiny fraction of that number. Additionally, the type of person who would be ‘up there’ on a bike is almost certainly going to be highly aware of the nature of the environment and not your average (ignorant?) walker who needs to employ the services of a guide so they can boast of their exploits from behind their desk on a Monday morning.

    I know this has been covered already but one of the problems is the obvious nature of tyre tracks which will undoubtedly be cited at any opportunity should access/environmental issues be raised. We as ‘mountainbikers’ would would then be forced to ‘prove’ that we were not the cause or major contributor to any damage, which would be next to impossible.

    epicyclo makes a good point about the windmills which puts things into perspective (and you could include cafes and other structures in this) that when you compare the damage they cause in their construction, there is nothing a relatively tiny bunch of mtb’ers could do to compare, even if they ragged their bikes round the mountains every day for the rest of their lives

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    Woody – Member
    …I know this has been covered already but one of the problems is the obvious nature of tyre tracks which will undoubtedly be cited at any opportunity should access/environmental issues be raised.

    It’s a good reason to be riding a fat bike. Low pressure, wide tyres make far less impact on a trail than footprints.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    It’s a good reason to be riding a fat bike.

    I was going to mention that but didn’t want to give the ๐Ÿ™„ brigade an opportunity – you are absolutely right of course ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Premier Icon Beagleboy
    Subscriber

    I think I pretty much agree with Brown’s sentiments here.

    I’m happy for folk to ride wherever they want, as long as our riding has minimal impact on those trails. We are very much the minority outdoor sport here and one tyre track (yes, I’m having a go at the monocyclists now ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), can stand out a mile. A big group ride, or a large increase in rider traffic can cause carnage to a trail, with a huge visual impact that could influence folks opinion of our hobby / sport. I’ve seen this, and I have to my shame, contributed to this by riding a chicken route down a local feature which is now a 12in wide, 20ft long gouge in the landscape after just a few years. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

    I personally think we’ve all got to be aware of our impact on the trails as we ride them. Just as I grumble at the ‘mess’ a horsey makes to ‘my’ trail. We’ve got to be aware of how others will view tyre tracks on ‘their’ trails. We stand out from the norm, so we’ve always got to be on our best behaviour is what I think I’m trying to say.

    I think my only real concern about riding up on the plateau is, as I stated at the very beginning, my fear of big group rides going up there. As long as you head up there, well aware that the environment is so slow to recover from any disturbance, that one instance of bad braking could leave a longterm visual impact and have a major influence on future runoff / erosion events. If riders keep this in mind, and keep in mind that we’re all ambassadors for our minority sport, then we’ll all be practising responsible access.

    In my opinion….

    I think…

    Beagy ๐Ÿ˜›

    yunki
    Member

    it’s fine for bikers to ride there/publish routes in an area. (Yunki, Druidh and Sanny all make this point.)

    hey hey hey Brown.. I really hope that you’ve just misread and didn’t come to that conclusion from my posts on this thread otherwise I have grossly misrepresented myself..

    I started out by stating that I think it’s atrocious that these people are stamping their feet and demanding the right to publish this route..

    I have no objection to conservation minded people riding sensitively in fragile environments.. but I think to decide that you want to publish the details of your ride in a popular magazine probably is the work of a bimbo.. (thanks for the inspiration in the tags there..) I relented ever so slightly when I realised that the debate that article had triggered may have some worth as a tool for encouraging conservation issues..

    But then Sanny admitted that raising awareness of conservation had not been his intention and that he had published the route pretty much just for a bit of glory.. so I stand by my view that it’s not really Sanny’s fault.. he is truly just a bimbo..

    what annoys me about this thread is the bloody mindedness of folk that are refusing to see your point Brown..

    don’t tar me with the same brush as them please.. this thread has given me enough indigestion as it is..

    Premier Icon Brown
    Subscriber

    Hey Yunki – I meant to say that you’d (and druid and Sanny) already said what I was re-iterating! I think I over edited myself. Sorry for any misunderstanding there guys!

    Can someone post some pictures of the area, just a few of the general surroundings, and a few of the paths themselves please. Don’t post any pictures of the rad-gnarr bits as that’ll probably excite a few people one way or another.

    Cheers

    Markie
    Member

    The above (and below) in picture form:

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Lochan Buidhe

    Sorry. Try again.

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Path to Ben MacDhui

    And another one.

    j_me
    Member

    From Sanny’s link above.

    it looks like Boot Hill ๐Ÿ™

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    Thanks guys.

    Dave
    Member

    So there’s a spectrum of impact. Even staying away has an impact on the plateau thanks to climate change and aerial pollution. Is it okay for me to walk there but not ride? Both have impacts, why is one okay and one not?

    Where do we draw the line?

    So that looks like if I rode it and stayed on the path I’d be having no impact on the rare vegetation, or am I reading that wrong?

    A lot to ponder from this thread. Genuinely thought provoking stuff

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