Cut Gate

Cut Gate: How the BMC got on track with MTB advocacy

We all like to have a bit of a moan about that bit of local trail which turns into an impassable bog in the wetter months – and lord knows we have plenty of them in the UK.

However not all of us take the initiative to produce a slick-looking report on the issue before launching a £75,000 fundraising drive with other stakeholder groups to fix it.

We discussed Cut Gate in our interview with Keeper of the Peak earlier this year, but now the much-loved Peak District trail is even higher on the agenda thanks to its inclusion in the BMC’s latest “Mend Our Mountains” crowdfunding campaign.

This time Si Bowns of Ride Sheffield has given us the lowdown…

Cut Gate
Riders on Cut Gate (Pic: Sim Mainey/Radventure)

Cut Gate is now infamous for being a bogfest after a bit of rain, has that always been the case?

As long as I can remember, Cut Gate has been a route to avoid if it’s been even slightly wet. It’s a common question on the Keeper of the Peak twitter feed – “what’s Cut Gate like at the moment?”.

Much of the trail actually holds up pretty well in the wet, but the “bog of doom” section is prone to flooding as it just doesn’t drain well enough. It’s this short section that we’ve identified for work in the Mend our Mountains project.

Tell us how the report on the issue came about last year.

Chris Maloney (Peak District MTB & Keeper of the Peak) and I got together to put together a booklet outlining the issues with Cut Gate, making some suggestions and aiming to open a dialogue with other users, the National Park and other stakeholders.  (Download here – http://shop.18bikes.co.uk/smsimg/cutgatev8.pdf)

We were asked to present this idea at the Peak District Local Access Forum, alongside other projects that the two mountain bike groups have been involved in. It was very well received, with praise and support from pretty much everyone in the room!

Did that lead to the current appeal? How did the BMC get involved?

In a slightly roundabout way, yes.  Chris had heard of the BMC’s plan to run their Mend Our Mountains campaign again, so met with them to discuss.  It’s very much the sort of project they want as part of MoM, particularly with it having the involvement and support of several user groups.

Peak District National Park Authority have also been very supportive.  They’re one of only two National Parks to have two Mend Our Mountains projects, their main campaign being for repair work on Great Ridge in the Hope Valley.  They’ve concentrated their resources on that project, while helping us to focus on Cut Gate – common sense collaboration!

Do we know if it’s the first such appeal for a popular MTB route?

I’m fairly certain that it’s the first appeal of this size, yes.  The BMC were really pleased to see a project being led by a user group, I believe it’s the only MoM project that has come about in this way. Mountain bikers kicked off the discussion and so of course we’re in the video. We were really keen to include other trail users too, so having representation in the video from horse riders and hillwalkers is excellent too!

The BMC page mentions flagstones and pitched rock – is that the main changes that riders will expect to see should the scheme be implemented? Anything else to add?

The project is actually relatively small on the ground – three sections each around 20/30m long. The specification is by Moors for the Future, with input from the Peak Park Rights of Way team. Flagstones are the main plan, alongside drainage to keep the water off.  No one is looking to surface long sections of Cut Gate, that would be a long way from the character of the trail.

Previous flag works on Cut Gate have been very successful and we’re hoping for the very same here – nothing that you’d notice much, other than not getting stuck in an enormous bog, or having to divert around it.

Were the proposed fixes easily agreed among the various user groups?

Absolutely.  Flags seem to be the obvious, sympathetic option and we’ve not had any user group question that.

Has there been a good response so far? Got a running total?

The Mend our Mountains campaign has only just launched (Nov 16th) so it’s very early days.  That said, I’m pleased to say that Cut Gate has seen more support already than the other projects.

With an overall funding pot, plus separate pages for each of the sub-campaigns, it’s hard to give a running total as yet.  We’ll have a totaliser on our own project website (http://www.cutgate.org) at some point in the New Year, when we make the big push for funding from the public.

Tell us about how the MTB groups have worked together on this and are there any individuals you’d single out for a bit of credit?

This project has been mainly Chris and I, representing Peak District MTB and Ride Sheffield respectively.  Neither of us really view a separation there though, it’s great that the two groups have worked together on this – not just to support something, but to create and lead the project!

Asides that, huge thanks must go to staff at Moors for the Future, Peak District National Park Authority and of course the BMC.  All have been welcoming and supportive of our involvement.

Selfie at Westminster
MTB advocacy goes to Westminster. Si Bowns (green shirt) with Chris Maloney (left, rear) and Peak District National Park Authority staff.

I understand you’ve just been to Westminster to promote the project, what was that all about?

The Westminster event was organised by the BMC, along with the High Peak MP  Ruth George.  It was a chance to launch the Mend Our Mountains campaign properly, while bringing together the individual projects/National Parks for discussion. We also invited potential funding partners, so there were discussions with organisations and individuals who may be able to help with that.

Cut Gate appeal page

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