Hi Hugh. A lot of people know that the Peak District has become a hot issue in the Green Road debate. Can you give a little background to the current access that trail riders have and how it has changed over the years.
Hugh:I started riding 'green lanes' back in 1973, after my wife and I moved to Stockport in 1972. I bought a BSA 250 Starfire as a rebuild hobby and started to ride around the lanes of Derbyshire. I kept seeing little grassed over lanes and started to wonder to where they led. The BSA would make progress but it had too low a frame so I bought an old road registered Sprite trials bike and then a brand new Yamaha DT175. This new bike was the start of my love of the lanes. There were very few people riding lanes then but I met a chap who was one of the original TRF members. Together we rode the lanes and I started to get a feel for the Derbyshire countryside. As I said there were few riders and we simply checked a possible route by looking at maps.
TRF:With many lanes being closed through permanent TROs, it's worth celebrating any that we save as Green Roads. Bamford Clough has recently been confirmed as a Byway Open To All Traffic. How did it happen?
Bamford Clough of old... and today
Hugh:Bamford Clough has been used by motor vehicles for far longer than I have been around. I know that it was used for reliability trials in the 1930s, that sport declined as vehicles got more reliable and sanitised. Folk earned better wages and seemed to go off for more trips to the seaside or the Peak Dales, taking their young families out to places like Dovestones or Chatsworth. We did the same with our two sons. Back then the Highway Authorities had more money too and so they used to maintain the drainage of such county lanes but over the past twenty years or so their budgets have shrunk and so cheap quick repairs were carried out, if any were done at all. Less maintenance meant harsher road conditions which modern cars are not designed for so fewer folk used the lanes and they started to get over grown again and fall from favour.
TRF:Who was involved in the process? I heard that you had to go out and measure the lane…
Hugh:My involvement was quite small in that I with one of DCC’s Highway team measured the width of the lane and objectively recorded its condition at appropriate places along its route.
TRF:Are decisions such as this just down to luck or can trail riders influence the outcome?
Hugh:The only luck is in finding the historical records. This simply requires time and patience for trawling through ledgers and maps to prove that the route was intended for public use and that motor vehicles are an inclusion of that use.
TRF:Finally, what does the future look like for trail riding in the Peak District?
Hugh:Positive. I think that the various demands upon the countryside will increase but only in line with the financial aspirations of those users. People will come to and go from motorcycling just as they always have in the past. Really education and tolerance are the key issues here. It would help if the anti motorists groups would stop peddling mistruths and come to the table to seek a genuine consensus solution.
Sometimes saving a Green Road really is just about putting in a bit of time and effort, occasionally with a tape measure...