Swithland Wood

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  • Swithland Wood
  • aa
    Member

    i was at gracediu the other night and saw the ‘private land’ signs and fence that wasnt there last time i was there. Are they owners clamping down?
    Motorbikes do seem to be all around atm.
    My ‘quickest’ way off road is the old railway line between coalville and ellistown, theres some nice singletrack parallel to the track, but, some knob(s) drags concrete railway sleepers onto the path to stop the motorbikes.

    aa
    Member

    i was at gracediu the other night and saw the ‘private land’ signs and fence that wasnt there last time i was there. Are they owners clamping down?
    Motorbikes do seem to be all around atm.
    My ‘quickest’ way off road is the old railway line between coalville and ellistown, theres some nice singletrack parallel to the track, but, some knob(s) drags concrete railway sleepers onto the path to stop the motorbikes.

    dannyh
    Member

    I had a quick chat with one of the blokes who was putting the fence at gracedieu. It was more to do with people parking in that bit they put there a couple of years ago. This is actually a turning for logging (yipes) wagons.

    I don’t think they are anti-mtb as such, but it’s not that big an area, and one ‘bad’ bit of logging work could render it unrideable.

    These days, I’m just not that bothered about whether a trail is ‘legit’ or not. There’s a lot of unfettered destruction of countryside going on at the moment in the pursuit of profit, so if a bridleway next to swithland wood can be closed and churned up to lay some kind of water pipe, I’m not going to get all precious about riding in cheeky places.

    I’ll decide if a trail is too wet to ride, legit or not. Sorry if this seems militant, but bikes really don’t do much damage. Nothing like letting a dog crap all over the place.

    muddyfool
    Member

    if a bridleway next to swithland wood can be closed and churned up to lay some kind of water pipe

    Don’t worry, I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the deal is that afterwards they’ll “improve” it by making a nice Tarmac / gravel bridleway instead… 😉

    It’s my route home btw, and come to think of it, it’s one of the few remaining bits of bridleway singletrack in the area that I know of.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    :Waves: Another Charnwood local here… (ride a Black Ragley Blue Pig)
    Just found this thread after seaching for Hicks Lodge.

    I ride Leicestershire’s biggest inbred Deer Tourist Attaction and Staffy walking centre (Bradgate Park) and Swithland woods mainly, and get up to Beacon too.

    I live 5 mins ride fro Martinshaw but something has happened to the water table in there and it’s a bloody state and looks unlikely to get better.

    Bradgate park…The SSSI is mainly due to the Geology of Bradgate park rather the it’s flora or fauna. You’d have to be daft to think bikes would damage anything more than the Landrovers/bracken flattening/hordes of walkers/dogs off the leads etc. As someone else said it’s not the Masai Mara. It’s an artificial environment as it was all covered in trees a 1000 year ago.

    Not seen a Moto in Bradgate park but I reckon you could get one in via kissing gate from the top carpark if you really wanted to.

    I did see a lad with a Full On DH bike in there the other night though, had a wee chat with him, lad was stoned off his face.

    Not had any ranger run ins for a bit but I have been riding from 7.30pm onwards midweek and I’m out of Bradgate park by 8am-ish on the weekends.
    Swithland woods does appear to a forested dog toilet at the mo though – nice.

    I have had a bit of earache off the occasional dog walker but to be honest having headphones when I ride on my own in I pretend to not hear them, smile, say hello and carry on. Saves a possible argument. The vast majority of people I meet in the park during the evening are fine but strangely you get the odd self-entitled self-appointed protector of Park very early in the mornings.

    dannyh
    Member

    Yeah – actually not too much aggro out there at the moment – motos notwithstanding.

    I’m currently rocking the evening riding vibe as well – Tues or Wed during the week, Fri or Sat at the weekend. Not in the park before 7-30pm.

    Everywhere is running really sweetly at the moment, so the Genesis is getting a right hammering.

    Also bought an mtbbatteries lumenator last week, so I am really looking forward to giving that a good test when the nights draw in a bit.

    I do wish they’d sort out the dog issue – it’s blindingly obvious that when you have a dog off the lead, you can’t be diligently cleaning up after it!

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    dannyh – I think you saw me riding back through braggy last Wednesday night standing up because of a snapped seatpost!

    dannyh
    Member

    Ah yes – I think so!

    No ‘delicate’ injuries as a result, I hope.

    Premier Icon scandal42
    Subscriber

    Going to pop down swithy tonight for the 1st time. Any advice on where to go from the car park?

    rascal
    Member

    Scandal

    Went up Cademan this afternoon…ended up supping a few in the Rag & Mop…how come you ended up at Swithy Woods?

    Premier Icon scandal42
    Subscriber

    Actually ended up in Cademan and blackbrook but didnt get out until gone 8. Also ended with a frothy one in the mop. Got to get something sorted but im away for a week from friday and busy with work due to that, but certainly up for a pub ride after my return. How did you find it today? The summwr tyre was different in those wet patches and slippy routes 🙂

    rascal
    Member

    The ground was more ‘moist’ than it has been for a while – making 2 wheel drifts fun.
    The river was running fully making fording it further up tricky and it had actually burst its banks further down near the railway viaduct. My mate went down the steep, long run straight into the settled water sending up a huge wave – he stunk like sh*t sat in the beer garden later 😯

    How did you find Swithy Woods? Not as good as up near you is it…

    Premier Icon scandal42
    Subscriber

    Didn’t end up getting to Swithy as It was a bit late by the time I had a chance to ride. Went up to the top of the viduct with the intention of going down the steep bit but the flooded bit put me off, didn’t want to fly down into a submerged log and break my neck before going on holiday 🙂

    Was good fun, have you been off the side of the bridge? quite a steep little descent and very rooty.

    fro45
    Member

    Hi all. It’s my vision to create legitimate mountain biking opportunities in and around the Charnwood forest area. So, I’ve set up a Charnwood Forest Stakeholder Group to campaign for greater access and explore the possibility to develop dedicated mountain bike trails in the area. If anyone has a similar vision, and would like to get involved, just reply on this thread and I’ll send you my email address. Thanks 🙂

    dannyh
    Member

    Hi all. It’s my vision to create legitimate mountain biking opportunities in and around the Charnwood forest area. So, I’ve set up a Charnwood Forest Stakeholder Group to campaign for greater access and explore the possibility to develop dedicated mountain bike trails in the area. If anyone has a similar vision, and would like to get involved, just reply on this thread and I’ll send you my email address. Thanks

    Are you absolutely certain this is a good idea? I’m not being negative for the sake of it, honest. The riding in the area (cheeky and kosher) is pretty limited as it is – are we in danger of pushing ourselves onto the radar of the very people who created all the byelaws that exist on any nice hundred square metres in the area?

    I don’t have much experience of this kind of thing (so you can rightly pick me up on that) – are there examples where greater access has been officially asked for and the result has been greater restriction? I’m just asking the question before something irrevocable is done.

    This is not a troll – life has taught me that sometimes the best policy is just to keep quiet and carry on.

    Premier Icon iain1775
    Subscriber

    +1 DannyH, will just risk ending up with off the radar coming onto the radar and bikes getting banned anywhere but Hicks Lodge

    fin25
    Member

    I live in Woodhouse eaves and ride around here a bit. Given the filthy looks I get from people when riding kosher trails (let alone the cheeky stuff) I do not hold out a lot of hope. Raising the profile risks creating a target and, knowing the local Gestapo, would only embolden the anti-cycling bunch.
    I’m with dannyh, keeping a low profile, although crap, is probably the only realistic choice. I would, however, love to be proven wrong…

    fro45
    Member

    dannyh, iain1775, fin25

    I understand your concern. Currently the only the only thing I’ve done that risks putting biking ‘on the radar’ is to apply an mtb group onto the Charnwood forest stakeholder list. This means I get occasional email updates from the council about Charnwood forest and am invited to a yearly meeting. It would be great if anyone wanted to join this group. As an individual, I’m not going to do more than that- and risk annoying a lot of people by bringing riding into the spotlight and getting it banned. What I am trying to do is build a network of people who all want the same thing- more legitimate opportunities for biking in the Charnwood forest. I do believe that if there’s a whole lot of us asking for more access as a group, we’ll have a louder voice and may actually achieve something.

    I’ve currently got in contact with the Leicester Freeriders- apparently they spoke to the council about building trails on Beacon Hill, to which the council was “quite receptive”. I’ve also tried to contact the Leicestershire Quarry Vision project- they have an interest in working with quarry operators around the edges of Charnwood Forest to develop long term restoration proposals which would include provision for climbing, scrambling and mountain biking.

    There are examples where previously unofficial riding has strengthened the argument when someone has tried to legitimise riding in that area- check out this quote from Ride Sheffield, in their proposal for new mtb trails in Lady Canning’s plantation:

    “Lady Canning’s Plantation has been used by mountain bikers for many years; usage which has been largely tolerated and that has had negligible impact on the woodland. However we would like to legitimise mountain biking in the plantation as well as making an excellent resource for the city.” If you guys have been biking responsibly in the area for a while, respecting other users, not dropping litter etc, it may add credibility to our case if we apply for official trails and access.

    Finally, there are currently vacancies on the Leicestershire Local Access Forum- an independent official body set up to represent the interests of everyone concerned with public rights of way and access to the countryside. If you part of this, you might have a chance to give bikes more bridleways and access to the countryside. This is the website if your interested: http://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/laf

    dannyh
    Member

    I’d be interested to know if Lady Canning’s Plantation was previously covered by a byelaw prohibiting cycling – as most of the ‘decent’ riding in our area is.

    I can’t see the Charnwood UKIP hotspot being swayed by previous illegal use into granting legal access(?!)

    I’m sorry, but it is that age-old question of whether to stay shtum or stick your head up.

    I have always seen wise words for people to heed when thinkning about applying for a footpath to be upgraded to a bridleway, for example. A really nice bit of riding on a footpath can be decimated when the horse riders are allowed on to it and start pushing for wider, flatter trails.

    Sorry to be negative, but I’m going to declare myself out for now – but honestly I do wish you luck. I feel you might be in for a dispiriting experience, though……….

    Premier Icon Pik n Mix
    Subscriber

    +1 for keeping it as it is, great intentions on your behalf though fro45.

    fro45
    Member

    Well, I changed my mind since my last post, and emailed the Bradgate park trust to see if they’d ever be open to allowing mountain bikers into the park in the future in a controlled, legitimate way. I got a nice email back from Peter Tyldesley, saying:

    “When I first took over at Bradgate, I felt the place had great potential as a mountain biking venue based on my experience at the Brecon Beacons National Park where we did a lot of work on developing MTB routes.

    Unfortunately, my subsequent experience of the mountain biking community has been entirely negative. The unauthorised use of the Park and Swithland Wood by cyclists causes significant environmental damage and conflict with other users and my staff who intervene to stop this unauthorised activity receive abuse.

    I am therefore now of the view that it would not be possible to constrain any authorised use to designated areas or times and the last thing I want to do is to put Bradgate on the mountain biking map and attract more unauthorised, uncontrollable and abusive bikers.”

    He also said that he was “someone who was favourably disposed to mountain biking and mountain bikers until some rogue members of the community ruined it for the rest. In fact, if we ever did have MTB trails here, I would probably get my bike out and ride them myself.

    We do have concessionary horse riding trails on the Park. I personally have no interest in horses and am not a massive fan of many in the horsey community, but they do behave themselves.”

    fro45
    Member

    So for those of you who do ride in Bradgate Park and Swithland woods…please don’t! It’s not ‘cheeky’ or ‘off-piste’, it’s illegal, and it causes a lot of damage, not only ecologically but by establishing a reputation for mountain bikers as out of control rule breakers. There are many of use in the county who would like challenging places to ride their bikes closer than Cannock Chase, but we cannot do that legally because your activities contributes to keeping us banned!

    This email shows that, despite what some of you think, the Bradgate Park Trust are sympathetic to work with us if we’re willing to play by their rules. The last part of the email is also evidence against danny h’s worry that any official trails we get will be ruined by horses.

    Instead of scurrying round the park when we hope no-one’s looking, treated as a nuisance and given dirty looks by other users, I suggest heading over to Cannock Chase for decent riding, and working with the park authorities for mountain biking in the park in a way that’s beneficial for all.

    Premier Icon Pik n Mix
    Subscriber

    Sorry Fro but I will always ride braggy (especially as it was left for the people of Leicester of which I am one) I’m as polite as can be towards the rangers and other park users (not that there are any about when I ride) as for the erosion well that’s just laughable given the amount of footfall that place sees.
    I appreciate your sentiment but I’m not about to drive to your suggested alternative just to ride my bike as that completely defeats the object.

    mrbelowski
    Member

    Awesome, I get the be the first person to say “get lost”. I can also provide abuse if you like.

    Edit… Beaten to it 🙁

    Your post appears to reveal your original intention. I’m tried of being told I shouldn’t ride my bike by you and everyone else. I’ve never seen more anti bike by-laws and no cycling signs as we have round here. If these folks get their way the only thing we’ll be allowed to do is watch telly and eat ourselves to death

    mrbelowski
    Member

    Oh, and there was never any intention to open braddy as a mountain bike venue. The “it’s your own fault we hate you and if you’d done as ordered you could have had the moon on a stick” bullshit boils my piss

    Premier Icon Pik n Mix
    Subscriber

    Awesome, I get the be the first person to say “get lost”. I can also provide abuse if you like.

    Hehe Ner ner ne ner ner 😛

    I’m riding braggy at 4am tomorrow if anyone’s interested. I might even pull a deliberate skid.

    I personally don’t see the issue in swithland seen as its got a few bridleways in it, I’ve never had anyone say anything to me (ranger or otherwise) whilst riding in there, other than “that looks uncomfortable!” on the cross bike.

    I understand the desire for us to not ride in bradgate as its a bloody nice place but they would stop most of the illegal riding by putting a run or two in, in my opinion anyway.

    Seems to boil down to dont be a giant willy.

    Premier Icon scandal42
    Subscriber

    So judging by that email response from the manager of the park they should also ban all dog owners because an unpleasant minority like to leave dog shit all over the gaff.

    And obviously every walker who enters the park is pleasant and never rude to others.

    Seems like a cop out to me.

    however i am very interested in the quarry aspect of the original post and would be very interested in getting behind any organised group on that front.

    Premier Icon scandal42
    Subscriber

    Oh and jim, that bike of yours causes the equivalent of 156 hikers worth of erosion.

    Premier Icon schmiken
    Subscriber

    Got Peters email address? I’d be interested in sending him an email as a responsible bike rider interested in riding Bradgate legally.

    The damage comment is ridiculous, the damage caused to the ground in there is caused by the rangers in their land rovers.

    My wife rarely rides her horse in there anymore as the ruts they have left could cause serious injury to a horse in canter. And she has received some very obnoxious comments from the small minded old giffers who think they police the place.

    As for horse riiders behaving themselves, there’s plenty who go in out of the allotted times (ridiculous idea!) and ignore the marked horse tracks.

    I ride bikes in there, but only out of hours just to reduce the grief.

    Swithy woods is fair game anytime. Just be polite, smile and be courteous.

    Personally I think bikers and horse riders should join forces. The idea that horse riders want flat groomed wide tracks is dreamt up by some ignorant council access numpties. Riding narrow twisty trails on a horse is fun for them as well.

    There’s actually a fair bit of fun trails around here if you really start searching considering the location.

    Also there’s no way I’m getting in the car to go riding when it fancy a blast out at 9pm on an evening.

    Premier Icon Pik n Mix
    Subscriber

    The ranger that took us up to old john to scatter my grandads ashes was sliding his land rover all over the place, I did mention that the amount it cost us to do it should allow me to ride my bike there. His response was ” go for it as you will anyway”

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    mrbelowski – Member
    Oh, and there was never any intention to open braddy as a mountain bike venue. The “it’s your own fault we hate you and if you’d done as ordered you could have had the moon on a stick” bullshit boils my piss

    This x1000…

    And comparing Bradgate park with the Breacon Beacons is frankly ridiculous. One is a large National Park with existing rights of way away from large cities and the other is a relatively small country park almost bereft of ROWs on the edge of a large city.

    I actually think that if the Bradgate Park Trust could it would ban horses and the like.

    Worth noting, that Bradgate Park has an income of approx 1million pounds a year. They also have 20 employees, many of which are part time. Which means some people are doing very nicely thank you from the Park.

    Also worth noting, that when confronted riding in the park by an off duty ranger, I asked for ID, I was then called an @rsehole. So it cuts both ways.

    petert
    Member

    Hello all.

    I am Peter Tyldesley, Land Agent & Surveyor at Bradgate Park.

    Interesting comment from BillOddie: “I actually think that if the Bradgate Park Trust could it would ban horses and the like.”

    How about we turn that on its head and say: “If the Bradgate Park Trust could, it would allow mountain biking but the behaviour of bikers and the reaction of other users of the Park towards them makes that difficult.”

    How can the mountain biking community turn things around?

    Let me quickly clear up a few things:

    1. Yes, the Park was given to be managed in Trust for the benefit of the people of Leicestershire (and visitors to the county). This does not give any one group of those beneficiaries the right to use the Park in a way that inconveniences others.
    2. The Brecon Beacons are only relevant because, when I worked for the National Park Authority, we did a lot of positive work on MTB routes and cycle tourism. I just offer this information to show that I am not knee-jerk anti MTB.
    3. I have been here a little under 2 years. Anything that happened before then is ancient history so far as I am concerned.
    4. Yes, our previous practice of driving around the Park in Land Rovers has caused damage to some of the tracks on the Park. We now use ATVs almost exclusively instead of Land Rovers. You can already see how many of the tracks are greening up as a result.
    5.Please be advised that cycling in Bradgate Park off the tarmac or in Swithland Wood off the bridleways and horse tracks is not permitted. There are Byelaws in place that enable us to take legal action against people who transgress. More significantly, the Park and the Wood are Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act to damage an interest feature of a SSSI. The maximum fine is £20,000 and it would be Natural England who prosecute offenders, not us.If the community will not voluntarily comply then a high-profile prosecution may be needed.

    Now we have cleared that up,how can we work more positively together?

    mrbelowski
    Member

    ‘Ride here and you’ll be fined £20,000’. ‘We’d like to see a high profile prosecution’.

    Perhaps you should to consider how such a confrontational approach contributes to “working positively together”. Perhaps also you’d like to take your threats and shove them up your arse

    Premier Icon scandal42
    Subscriber

    Okay, so that went well 😆

    In all seriousness Peter maybe you could suggest something a bit more tangible in terms of how we can work together, as far as we can tell there is no scope or opportunity for supported riding.

    I don’t imagine the riders of the local area can ever see a way in which biking will be accepted by the up to now ‘regressive’ authorities of the local area, whether that be in the guise of the backwards looking council or the park authorities.

    I think most of the local riders who don’t go out of their way to be abusive when on the trails (the majority) feel alienated by this backwards attitude to the sport.

    I can see why these riders would rather keep their heads down rather than bring a spotlight to the issue when they are targeted with such things as a £20k fine for the heinous crime of riding a bike in the countryside.

    petert
    Member

    mrbelowski- that is not what I said. Please don’t misquote me.

    scandal42 – I can’t speak for anyone other than the Bradgate Park Trust but we would need to be convinced that, if some kind of authorised trails were introduced, we would not be over-run by riders who felt they could go anywhere they pleased. If we were to allow any form of cycling that led to damage then the Trust could be liable for that large fine for permitting damage to take place.

    mrbelowski
    Member

    You’re quite correct, you didn’t say those things and the quote marks in my post are misleading.

    The threatening nature of point 5 in your post is, however, quite clear. Such threats entirely undermine any attempts at working closely together – how do you expect to have a productive dialogue with people if you do this? As Scandal42 quite rightly points out, we’re just riding our bikes in the countryside and (believe it or not) we’re a very courteous and decent group of people.

    Premier Icon schmiken
    Subscriber

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks very much for being brave enough to stick your head out and engage in some sort of dialogue with us.

    When you say it is managed for all the people of Leicestershire you should be aware that there is a lot of great riding in the park and very little good riding out of it in the local area! As it stands, it feels like there is no provision for mountain bikers in the park at all.

    With the lack of people except on the main road, it feels silly that we are not allowed to ride. This also make riding there very appealing, regardless of potential penalties. It is also apparent that applying penalties is near enough impossible to a determined cyclist.

    I for one would welcome an opening of communication and some way of riding in the park. Especially since mountain bikers produce very little erosion, are generally accepted by the walkers we do bump into and tend to be away from most of the crowds that would take offence.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    Now we have cleared that up,how can we work more positively together?

    How about entering to a dialogue with local mountain bikers? Find out what their needs and wants are? There have been numerous success stories around the UK (and the World) where Landmanagers, once they have entered into a discourse and come up with a action plan, find mountain bikers to be a very agreeable, passionate and hard working bunch. See Chase Trails at Cannock, TimberMTB at Thetford for 2 quick examples. Maybe visit there and see the work that has been done.

    I can’t speak for anyone other than the Bradgate Park Trust but we would need to be convinced that, if some kind of authorised trails were introduced, we would not be over-run by riders who felt they could go anywhere they pleased. If we were to allow any form of cycling that led to damage then the Trust could be liable for that large fine for permitting damage to take place.

    The simple answer to this is that by providing legal trails you cannot prevent people riding other illegal trails. BUT if you make the legal trails interesting and sustainable any riding on illegal trails would be minimised.

    My gut tells me that if you provided a way marked route between the 3 car parks around the perimeter of Park using the existing narrow singletrack trails, the vast majority of Mountain Bikers would be happy.

    Lastly keep in mind that Mountain Bikers as a rule of thumb have high disposable income and like to spend money on parking , tea, coffee, beer and cake! Get the trails to go past the Cafe in the middle of the park and I’m sure the trails would increase Turnover.

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