Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack

  • This topic has 336 replies, 90 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by  AntM.
Viewing 17 posts - 321 through 337 (of 337 total)
  • Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack
  • druidh
    Member

    TBH – that photo is a good illustration of the natural state of the place – without walkers or cyclists. It’s mostly mosses and lichen on a gravel-covered thin soil. Average wind speeds, temperatures, precipitation and sunlight are more like the Arctic than Northern Europe. Given, any disturbance called legitimately be called human erosion.

    it looks like shite to me but perhaps they’re just bad photos ?

    Premier Icon duckman
    Subscriber

    Woody you suggested I was scaremongering and had a defeatist attitude,I would suggest I have a realistic attitude.
    Bearing in mind the possibility of group rides raised above I think you are pretty blinkered to suggest that the that increased use by mtb’s will not lead to conflict otherwise.Can you honestly say you and all your riding buddies are 100% sympathetic to all other people when out on a group ride? As I said WE are the minority, not the walkers; to try and pretend that A) we will be viewed as equal partners should our numbers increase,and B) we will not be the first to get it in the neck when the question of erosion/conservation is next mentioned.Rather than being defeatist I think we need to pick our battles,

    20 years ago the Lomonds did not have the problems with neds with Ghetto blaster and slab of lager “camping” Likewise when my Dad “compleated” in the 80’s there were less than 500 baggers. As Druidh would probably be able to confirm,he will have been in the thousands. A fairly small part of the UK is busier than ever,which will raise further questions about access.

    Back to my point about preparation and suitability to be there; While I have never seen 200-250 people in one day on the plateau, I would suggest 10% of the people I see are poorly prepared and do not have the skills set to be there (is this the path to Ben McDui,while NOT having a map and being able to see it etc) I think as word spreads about it,people would be more likely to try it on a bike.

    Anyway to recap my standpoint,and I am out of this one as my views are pretty clear. I think increased use by MTB’s will lead to conflict with walkers,certainly in the medium to long term.

    A lot of trails and routes are spread by word of mouth,I think that this will lead to less responsible users than the majority of poster on here being attracted to the plateau (just as it does walkers.)

    Small person with sore tummy now asleep so I am off to grab another hour.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    duckman
    My attitude differs from yours in that I don’t see ‘ourselves’ as a persecuted minority who have to be subservient to the great all-powerful walking/hiking lobbies. I do see your point regarding preparedness but I feel that if you are picking battles, there are far more likely candidates than this one. MTB’s are a tiny fraction of the traffic on the plateau, a situation I feel is unlikely to change on the back of an article in a relatively niche mag, which was, of course, the crux of this thread and not the behaviour elsewhere of ‘neds’ (you still have neds in Scotland? 😉 ).

    The access rights are an issue which are going to affect all users and rather than prepare for conflict with walkers, it would be much better to present a united front to ensure that current freedoms remain. You are always going to get idiots on the mountains (I was aghast when I went up Lochnagar a couple of years ago, both at the sheer number of people and also how ill prepared many of them were for a change in the weather) but I would much rather the mtb side was self-policing if at all possible and let the walkers/skiers/climbers take responsibility for the 99% (if not all) damage/erosion caused so far.

    Mountain Tops are inspirational places – riding trails and looped routes are … something different, you climb to achieve a top … you ride trails to achieve flow. Different but the same.

    People use guide books to find where to flow in general and read magazines to be inspired, initially and to use the route guides.

    I suppose it is all about ethical and controlled enjoyment, the voluntary Snowdon riding limitations being an example of that. But at the end of the day, Snowdon has a stonking big railway/cafe up it and the Cairngorms has a ski lift/cafe. The UK mountainous regions have been an economic asset for some time. If snow is to be less certain, then the more bikes appear at these locations, the better for the economies that have been built up over the years. Look at Aonach Mor.

    druidh
    Member

    duckman – Member
    20 years ago the Lomonds did not have the problems with neds with Ghetto blaster and slab of lager “camping” Likewise when my Dad “compleated” in the 80’s there were less than 500 baggers. As Druidh would probably be able to confirm,he will have been in the thousands.

    Indeed – I’m number 4721, but of course that does not take account of the many hundreds of thousands of people who have been up a Munro but never compleated them all.

    A fairly small part of the UK is busier than ever,which will raise further questions about access.

    Hmm. Along with many other hillwalkers, I’ve always viewed the ski paraphernalia – and the busy hillsides associated with it – with some distaste. However, I’m also pragmatic enough to realise that we are only talking about four developments spread across the whole of the Scottish Highlands and that if I want unspoilt views and solitude that is still simple enough to find as there are thousands of other hillsides and glens which are rarely visited.

    I like to think I can see both sides of this discussion (I hate to say argument as, without many of the usual suspects it’s been very well-behaved and opinions generally well-respected) and maybe I’m also offering up the Cairngorm-Macdui route as a bit of a sacrificial lamb. However if there is ever to be any walker-cyclist conflict I would have thought that it is much more likely to transpire at lower levels, on much busier paths – the West Highland Way comes to mind, especially a section like the Devils Staircase which is a LOT more accessible to cyclists, is on a busier path, and has the steep/fast descents which are likely to result in skidding, straight-lining and walker-buzzing. Would those in favour of hushing up the plateau route support a ban on cyclists on the WHW – or even argue that such routes should not be publicised?

    druidh
    Member
    messiah
    Member

    This thread is interesting if a little long and lost in places… Thanks to dRjOn for a good balanced viewpoint yesterday and for keeping it on subject, and to Sanny for reasoned and intelligent responses. I’ve been lurking and reading but feel it time to chirp in again. In my experience there is no access conflict with walkers and bikers on the plateau anymore than there is anywhere else up in the Scottish mountains. Drawing parallels with busy places in Englandshire makes little sense, and as has been mentioned the effort involved in taking on a route like this will naturally limit the number of folk heading up. 9-1/2 hours to ride 24 miles… and all the other issues… most bikers would go nowhere near it. I can’t see the DH crowd making the effort of the climb since the doonhall would not be worth it… and I suspect Cairngorm Mountain Railway might want to have a word with them about unsuitable use of the busy paths 🙄

    I’d rather Sanny had not written the article but that’s purely for my own selfish reasons. I wonder if the next time I go up there I will get asked by someone if I read about the route in a magazine? The last time I did the full circuit when we reached the Funicular we were offered a free ride up in the train because we had cycled to the base station. When we informed the lady of our plans to head back to Braemar over the top she was aghast, as were the other folk standing about watching us water up in preparation for the next big climb. I ride the big stuff on my own or in small very select groups; there is no room to carry stragglers and the weak of either will or bike must be dropped and left for the crows so that the strong can survive. Yes, I’m an elitist snob which is the real reason I don’t want route’s like this published… I’ve earned the rites to them because I have the knowledge and the experience… and I’m keeping them all to myself (this is probably the real reason many walkers/guides/etc get antsy as they too want maximum bragging rites for there efforts… see all Munroe baggers for further proof of how hard an undertaking it is and why so few blah blah blah).

    Macdui top is actually an oddity in that you do get “punters” up there who have come up from the ski area and followed the path (not as bad as Nevis). Most other mountains in that area are frequented much less by the trainers and carrier bag brigade. I’ve had a few odd encounters up there but since I’ve normally come up from the Braemar side I’ve avoided heading up or down the hill through them. Probably the highest number of people I have seen up top is about 20, and maybe another 20 or so visible scattered along the paths – not that I hang around at the top for long counting obviously. The 250 Sanny speaks of were probably those walking up beside the Funicular and heading to the café or other trails. So what if lots of folk walk up there anyway? Yes it’s a delicate eco system but there is a path to keep to, and as has been pointed out it is a huge area. Because of the Funicular and the path network this area has been given to tourism like it or not. As long as they don’t open up full free access from the Funicular the numbers will always be limited by the effort factor… the exhibition at the top Café is worth a visit as it explains the issues rather well. The Plateau is a very beautiful and special place, obviously I’d rather it was not harmed by the passing of people and I suspect little of it is. I’ve been going up there for 20+ years and on the infrequent occasion when there is visibility it looks the same as ever (my wife tells me all my mountain photo’s look the same). Biggest risk of damage will likely be from the over population by deer and reindeer eating every green thing rather than them squished by human footfall. Since the National Trust took over the Marr estate the paths have taken a definite turn for the better and I applaud the work that they have done… I am happy to pay my membership.

    FWIW: The only times I have ever had grief in the Scottish mountains has been bizarre angry individuals, and mostly at low level while returning from being up high. The folk up high are almost universally lovely and are up there for the same reasons I am which is to enjoy the hills, the folk low down with the problems have problems… nothing I have done (or can say or do) is going to change their day. I’m always polite and considerate, I enjoy the descents but am happy to stop and let walkers up, and usually get good banter and a laugh as a reward. I try not to go off path and berate those of the group who do. I see much of the talk about conflicts and bans (voluntary or otherwise) on here as typical pub type banter where those involved actually don’t have much of a Scooby about what they are discussing, but seeing as it’s an open forum they have to have make sure others are well aware of their opinions. If you don’t like it that people take bikes up there then feel free to not take yours, and if people want to then may I suggest walking it first to be aware of what your trying to take a bike through. If you want a guide book I suggest using one of the many walkers guides… you’ll be walking most of the route anyway… 9-1/2 hours to ride 24 miles… might as well have not taken the bike 🙂

    I said I wasn’t going to add to this thread… doh!

    j_me
    Member

    I ride the big stuff on my own or in small very select groups; there is no room to carry stragglers and the weak of either will or bike must be dropped and left for the crows so that the strong can survive.

    🙄 put it away please 🙄

    Premier Icon duckman
    Subscriber

    You are surf matt in disguise and I claim my £5.I am curious as to your route back to Braemar mind.

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    j_me

    Although you may think that Messiah is blowing his own trumpet, I can safely say he’s not. As you are no doubt keenly aware yourself, any mountain in Scotland but particularly up on the plateau has the potential for the weather to change in an instant and go from tee shirt and shorts weather to very consequential. Average summit temperature in August is 6 degrees which means it can be considerably colder than that in what we like to refer to as “the summer”.

    Messiah

    Your comments about the photos made me chuckle! 😆 And I can only echo your comments about chatting to walkers. It’s rare to meet a grumpy one – most are delighted to be up there on a fine day and happy to shoot the breeze. Requests for backies and questions about how we got there are the most frequent but always make for good banter. I find that the bike has a wonderful effect of disarming folks and giving them something to talk to us about. On reflection, there may be good reason why it took us longer to ride than it would to walk! Ha! Ha! Well that and the inordinate volume of food and gear that I stuff into my bag.

    Woody and dRjon

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments. Good points, eloquently made.

    Cheers

    Sanny

    j_me
    Member

    up on the plateau has the potential for the weather to change in an instant

    …….and its responsible riding to leave an individual who is struggling and the weather conditions deteriorating ?
    No, that comment by messiah is willy waving of the worst possible kind, but lets stay on topic.

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    As a wee aside, I remember riding near Claife in the Lakes and being berated by a woman for although having said morning and excuse me as I approached her (walking pace I might add), I did not have a bell and how was her husband who was deaf meant to hear me? The fact that her husband wasn’t with her on the walk made me giggle. I’m afraid I had to stop myself coming over a bit Frankie Boyle and saying “He’s not here!!!!!! He’d have to have Spidey sense to hear me right now and even if he was, he’s DEAF!!!!!!!”

    messiah
    Member

    No, that comment by messiah is willy waving of the worst possible kind

    I was injecting a little humour to make a point… call it what you want 🙄

    PS – I’ll wave my willy at anyone for a beer and a pickled egg 😉

    PPS – I have abandoned slower riders before – being a married man I have to balance my adventures with other “priorities” and hence I have indeed ditched the stragglers to make sure and get home before pumpkin O-clock.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    As a wee aside, I remember riding near Claife in the Lakes and being berated by a woman for although having said morning and excuse me as I approached her (walking pace I might add), I did not have a bell and how was her husband who was deaf meant to hear me? The fact that her husband wasn’t with her on the walk made me giggle. I’m afraid I had to stop myself coming over a bit Frankie Boyle and saying “He’s not here!!!!!! He’d have to have Spidey sense to hear me right now and even if he was, he’s DEAF!!!!!!!”

    I had an old fart shout at me in Mugdock last week for not having a bell, despite the fact I was off and pushing the bike along as I went past him. Replying “ding ding” didn’t go down to well with him.

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    …..So has anyone read my article yet? Ha! Ha!

    Messiah

    Beer and a pickled egg eh? Changed days, it used to be that all it took was a kind word. Glad to see that you are bucking the recession and able to charge vastly inflated prices (so to speak!)

    AntM
    Member

    I’ve just read the article to find out what all the fuss is about. Before reading the thread and the article in ST (in that order) I was very much of the opinion that even though the top of Cairngorm was accessible legally I didn’t want to go up there (on my bike) with the thinking that I might do damage to the fragile nature of the terrain. I also thought that publishing details either in a mag article or guidebook would be irresponsible and shouldn’t be done. This does amount to some sort of censorship, which no one seems to have mentioned on here or perhaps that is a separate debate for another thread…. Having read the article (which I enjoyed BTW) and the lively debate which it has generated (I’m not too keen on the name calling despite the high levels of emotion) I’m left wondering about where my stance on the subject is now. Before, I knew I could go up there and ride but I reckoned I wouldn’t enjoy it as I would probably be feeling something akin to guilt for being up there on a bike- my gut instinct. Now I’m not so sure, the pics of the paths (dry weather days) seemed to indicate they are fairly rideable and pretty much contained on the plateau and assuming you aren’t ‘ragging it’ could be traversed with relatively little impact. You would have to pick your timing well of course for weather etc and plan your route well and make sure you haven’t got any numpties with you ( 😳 insult alert). Hmmm this is a thinker… 😕

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