As if the current furore about the Councils plans to turn Crompton Moor into a cycle park is not aggravating enough, there has been extensive new building on the illegal cycle trails that currently exist in the woods.
The track shown here is one of the most damaging but is by no means the only new construction that is going on and all this inflames the arguments and bad feeling amongst users of the moor.
The North West Riders (NWR) club has been quick to condemn the building and destruction caused but it does serve to highlight a problem that many foresee in the future.
There are already extensive tracks through the woods but for some cyclists that is not enough.
The question many of us are asking is, even if the Council build legal tracks, who is going to stop these wildcat builders from building even more illegal trails in the future?
The Council either lack the will or seem powerless to stop them. NWR seem unable to stop them too, so who will?
NWR are at least trying to repair the situation, not least because the actions of such rogue trail builders damages their credibility as spokesmen for the mountain biking community as a whole.
They have organised a clean up day on 14th March 2009 and invite other users of the moor to help them repair the new damage.
Update 21st April 2009
True to their word, NWR removed the tracks featured above and did a pretty good job of it too. Normality was restored until Easter.
The holidays brought the predictable round of drinking camps to be cleaned up after and the usual arson causing moorland fires.
Add to that the councilís irresponsible timing of the forestry activity in Whitesides plantation and the all the ingredients were in place for a fortnight of unrest.
There has been a marked increase in clashes between riders and walkers and emotions on both sides have been running high.
Verbal abuse has been flying in both directions and in a couple of cases encounters have actually become physical. None of this is helping the situation.
Possibly one of the oddest things to occur in the holidays though was the apparently systematic destruction of parts of the existing cycle trails.
I think it started in the Black Hey plantation with some half hearted attempts to damage ramps but this damage steadily grew in scale until the large ramp in the Great Meadow plantation was heavily damaged, possibly rendering it unsafe.
This ramp and others seem to have been repaired to some extent over the weekend but a further attack was made on Monday night resulting in the destruction you can see in the pictures here.
I must admit to being somewhat mystified about this, because to me it looks more than the work of an individual. Some of the logs alone must have taken at least a couple of strong people with tools to move. This seems to be a sustained, organised attempt to render the trail unusable.
Now, NWR have an agreement with the council that they can maintain the illegally built trail in Great Meadow on the condition that no new trails are built, no stone is taken from walls and no trees are felled in the process.
As far as we can tell, NWR have abided by that agreement but they are quick to point out that they do not represent all the cyclists that use the moor and that they cannot stop non members from building unofficial trails where they want. Their actions above do show a willingness to repair damage caused though and they should be commended and supported for that.
Seeing such deliberate destruction to the trails must be extremely frustrating and disheartening to say the least.
Given the emotionally charged atmosphere on the moor at the moment such actions are akin to standing in a gunpowder factory and playing with fire.
Contact the Rangers on 0161 620 8202 (Strineside Centre) or 0161 627 2608 (Tandlehill) Other contact details
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