Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack

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  • Save the Cairngorms from Singletrack
  • Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    So that looks like if I rode it and stayed on the path I’d be having no impact on the rare vegetation, or am I reading that wrong?

    You’d think so wouldn’t you, but there seem to be far more serious and weighty [strike]egos[/strike] issues involved.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    So that looks like if I rode it and stayed on the path I’d be having no impact on the rare vegetation

    As long as you don’t breathe heavily, fart(or worse), squeal your brakes, crash off that narrow ribbon of a path and piss in a bottle if you have to, then I’m sure you wouldn’t do any harm 8)

    Ok, I can’t think of any reason why I would go off the track, perhaps walkers might step off the track to let me past maybe. What percentage of the plateau area does the track take up and if people getting out of cyclists ways doubled the width of the track, are we talking about the square root of not much difference?

    Next question; what is the plateau for? Is there any grazing, hunting etc up there. Can walkers take their dogs up there?

    Interested to know whether my nitrogen would help the tundra to grow faster now? Could be a way to ameliorate a persons impact perhaps.

    What am I missing?

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    A moron writes.

    You know I wasn’t going to respond to the postings as I thought I had probably written too much already but there are a couple of statements relating to me and what some of the posters think I have said that I take issue with.

    Yunki

    Thanks for resorting to name calling. I’ve not been called a bimbo before. The discussion is a good one as are your contentions. Please don’t weaken your case by resorting to playground tactics. 0 out of 10 on that front. And just to clarify something, the article wasn’t written for a bit of glory as you and another poster have suggested but because it was an enjoyable ride in the mountains. I thought I had struck a fair balance with the references in the article to the fragile nature of the area and the importance of sticking to existing trails. If I had wanted to write an article about responsible access or the plateau itself, I doubt anyone would have read it (though to be fair, I’m beginning to suspect from all the posts above that only 5 folk in the world have read it and more have read this thread!) The article was written with an eye to the fragile nature and makes reference to it at several points. Funnily enough, I know better than you what was in my mind when I was writing the article! I’m reminded of the classic scene in Annie Hall when Annie and Woody overhear another person in the cinema queue expounding on the work of Marshall McLuhan only for Woody to pull Marshall from behind a movie posterboard and tell him that his interpretation is wrong. 😆

    It’s also been suggested that I said that because walkers and climbers do harm, we should be allowed to do the same. Sorry but that’s not my contention. The point I want to reiterate is the question as to why it is acceptable for one large user group to cause damage on an ongoing basis (assuming you accept the notion that sticking to pre existing trails is damage – not necessarily an argument that I agree with) but exclude another minority group? If we all have the capacity for responsible access, why exclude mountain bikers? The only genuinely persuasive argument I have seen presented in this thread in favour of one group of users over another is the economic one suggested by Brown.

    In top trumps terms, the economic benefit of walkers, guides, climbers, skiers etc appear to take precedence over environmental concerns. However, as mountain bikers are a perceived low volume user group who are expected to bring considerably less money to the area, environmental concerns top trump their desire to be allowed to exercise access rights in a responsible manner. Brown, is that the gist of your argument? I’m paraphrasing but that is how I’ve interpreted it.

    If it is, what about the local mountain bike guide who wishes to take clients over the plateau on the existing trail network? He or she is another member of the community and makes a living off the land just as a Glenmore Lodge guide does. What takes precedence then – environmental or economic concerns? Who gets to make the call that one person can’t make a living but others with a demonstrably larger customer base and consequent impact can? Should we just accept that sometimes economic considerations take precedence over environmental concerns and that should be the end of the matter? 😕

    Ultimately, I return to my original point. Either access should be for all to exercise responsibly as codified by the Land Reform Act or there should be restrictions placed on all users in the name of environmental management. Try and ban one group and you are at a thin end of a very large wedge.

    Hopefully the pics above will give some context to the discussion.

    Jme – Nice picture. Walkers going where they please over the plateau. Oh the irony! Not being smug but I’m afraid I don’t recognise that bit having stuck to the paths! I would suggest that the motivation and opportunity when you are walking to do that is far greater than on a bike. I wonder who on here takes any pleasure in riding over tussocky clumps of grass, rocks and loose sandy soil when you have the option of an obvious and easy to follow path?

    j_me
    Member

    Sanny

    Sorry edited my earlier post as I thought it would end up adding to the controversy rather than being informative. The plateau itself covers a huge area, some of it is really fragile. I think people can see from the photo this area wouldn’t stand up to much off the path traffic from either walkers or bikers, even if they wore moon boots and/or rode pugsley’s 😀

    So here’s the photo complete with offending walkers

    Premier Icon Brown
    Subscriber

    Sanny – that was Duckman’s argument, not mine.

    My point was on a slightly different line – essentially, I agree with you, but I feel that if we want more access, we need to firstly address our image and to look at how responsible we as a group actually are.

    (Incidentally, I don’t think that you said that just because walkers go there so we should be allowed to also. When I said in a post that you had made this point, it was the result of bad editing – I was trying to say that you had made the opposite point… sorry about that!)

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    paulrockliffe – Member
    Next question; what is the plateau for? Is there any grazing, hunting etc up there.

    Nothing – its too high and cold. Important nesting area for dotterl (SP) and ptarmigan IIRC.

    Its only “uses” are decorative and recreation / commercialised recreation.

    Can walkers take their dogs up there?

    dogs should be under close control – not running around all over because of the aforementioned birds that are too stupid to nest anywhere more sensible

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    No worries Brown. I’ve really enjoyed this debate.

    TJ – when you say nothing, I know you meant nothing except for the small herd of reindeer and herds of your bog standard common or garden deer that can be seen mooching about chomping on the grass 😉

    As for the dogs, aye they should be under close control like you say but that’s another debate altogether. Nothing quite matches the sinking feeling of the silent footstep 😀

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    we need to firstly address our image and to look at how responsible we as a group actually are

    I don’t think ‘our image’, whatever that happens to be, is relevant to this particular case. The type of rider who will be venturing onto the plateau will not be very far removed from most of the walkers who go there anyway and I suspect that the cycling fraternity will probably be better informed and more conscious of any impact they may have than many of the walkers. Note that almost all the people who have posted as having ridden there, have also walked it. The image problem, if indeed there is one, can only have come from the more highly populated areas where there is a conflict between bikes and the red sock brigade and probably not in Scotland. I don’t live there so I stand to be corrected on that one!

    I agree with your comment that we have to be seen to be more squeeky clean (for want of a better expression) but IMO this thread seems to have stirred up a problem which essentially did not exist for bikes in that area and I seriously doubt whether Sanny’s article will have the slightest impact one way or the other compared to other factors.

    yunki
    Member

    I’m sorry Sanny..
    again I will mention that I have not read the article but am basing my arguments on the evidence supplied by yourself.. here.. in this thread..

    my argument is not one of bans.. and rights.. just of showing due care and responsibility..
    I do not believe that the article was neccesary.. or that publishing a ride account of the area shows due care and responsibility.. and.. as you have taken such great pains to display.. neither do I think that you were incapable of making an equally saleable article with less contentious subject matter.. It’s a shame that you didn’t have the same confidence in yourself..

    Sorry about the insult.. you surely must admit that the description when applied to this situation is wholly accurate..

    What’s necessary got to do with it? Mountain bike magazines aren’t necessary, mountain biking itself isn’t necessary.

    What a load of nonsense this thread is, it’s clear that the article will have no impact on the area, even if a few more people popped up there, they’re riding on already eroded paths.

    It’s a total non issue as far as I can see, similarly based on the evidence presented in this thread.

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    Both sides of the debate are valid arguments. there are a few absolutists but for most of us its about where to draw the line and what is responsible and reasonable in this instance

    yunki
    Member

    What’s necessary got to do with it

    OK.. I’ll rephrase it especially for your pleasure seeing as you asked the question Paul..

    I don’t think it was necessary for a contentious place to be used as the setting for sanny’s article.. I couldn’t have done it myself.. and sanny seems perfectly creative and capable enough of producing an article based on a ride in a less controversial place..

    hope that helps..

    Again.. whilst it’s such a gut wrenching shame that others are in disagreement.. it’s bloody brilliant that it’s caused all this debate.. every cloud and all that.. 🙂

    Premier Icon funkynick
    Subscriber

    Erosion can’t be that much of an issue up there now anyway, walkers are now allowed to take the funicular up to the top and then go for a walk on the plateau.

    Granted, they are only guided walks, and you have to book, but the plans are for upto 140 people a day to do this.

    If that is responsible access, then how is a few bikes riding on existing paths not?

    yunki… I asked in the other thread whether your opposition to this is predicated on the following:

    a) that mountain bikers by definition are a less responsible user group than all others

    b) that mountain bikers generally cause more erosion than other user groups.

    Is that correct? Are there any others?

    jonathan
    Member

    I’m sure Sanny could have written about a trip somewhere else, but then he wouldn’t have been writing about the Cairngorm Plateau. I want my journalism (which I think we can class the content of Singletrack as) to reflect what riders do, where they ride and the places that inspire them. I’d much rather Sanny wrote honestly about somewhere that has meaning for him, rather than just churn out an article about yet another riding trip.

    We are adults and it’s important that we let magazines like Singletrack treat us as adults. Of course the great benefit is that it can spark debates like this, and that Singletrack provides a place for debates like this.

    I don’t always want to agree with everything I read. If people are doing things I don’t think are right I’d much rather read a well-written article about it than simply pretend it doesn’t happen. Dave’s Access All Areas articles are the perfect example of this – they’ve allowed me to openly and constructively discuss the previously unmentionable in Local Access Forum meetings.

    If everyone just rode cheek and were never allowed to publicly discuss it there would be no debate, and it’s a similar situation here – although I don’t think it’s was Sanny’s intention to spark the debate, whereas it certainly was Dave’s. Mountain biking is what it is, there’s no point hiding bits of it from view.

    yunki
    Member

    yunki… I asked in the other thread whether your opposition to this is predicated on the following:

    a) that mountain bikers by definition are a less responsible user group than all others

    b) that mountain bikers generally cause more erosion than other user groups.

    Is that correct? Are there any others?

    I’m only against encouraging people.. on foot.. or on bikes.. or on horses or even on magic carpets.. from seeing areas of a known fragility as a tourist destination.. the place is there… and many will find their way to walk or ride there.. I was just disappointed at an (IMO) uncaring advertisment..

    I suppose damage limitation is the argument I’m presenting.. nothing more..

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    neither do I think that you were incapable of making an equally saleable article with less contentious subject matter.. It’s a shame that you didn’t have the same confidence in yourself..

    Yunki, you appear to be saying here that due to Sanny’s lack of confidence in his own creative writing ability he deliberately chose a contentious topic to write about.

    That makes absolutely no sense.. Is this where the assertion that he’s a ‘moron’ comes from? That’s the only logical thing about that statement I can surmise. Of course I strongly disagree with that too 🙂

    yunki
    Member

    I never called anyone a moron..!! 😯

    I was being a bit obtuse though.. he’s given me enough stick in this thread..

    I point you in the direction of the new rad to the power of sick thread.. a welcome antidote to this rambling discourse..

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    The smiley meant I was not being entirely serious yunki 🙂

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    I think ‘Bimbo’ was the phrase and to avoid any confusion – from Wiki

    Use of this term began in the United States as early as 1919, where it was used as a slang term for an unintelligent or brutish male

    Describes Sanny to a tee 😆

    spooky_b329
    Member

    So, as a brief overview, have the powers that be responded in this thread, and if so, which page(s)?!

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    You mean over and above the author of the article or do you me The Higher Power?

    Premier Icon duckman
    Subscriber

    Sanny you said I feel that Mountain bikers should not be allowed on the Plateau,but walkers should,as they are more important.The guides I were referring to were the rangers who now take people out and talk about the flora and fauna at £14 a head. I have not said walkers were more important.To clarify;I have no issue with groups of anybody except 4×4 clubs using the Cairngorms.To suggest otherwise for the number I times I have cycled,walked and climbed there would be hypocritical.I have no problem with anybody who shows a degree of sense being on a bike up on the plateau.However for all the self righteous chest beating about being more aware of our surroundings that some on here are making,we are PERCEIVED as causing more damage than walkers.
    As posted above,groups are talking about group rides up on the plateau. Are you certain that everyone of them will understand they are under scrutiny from other users? Likewise and this does interest me, it is common practise you give way to people coming up the hill,how will that work with somebody who feels they have earned their downhill? 1st accident with a walker will not be reported in a positive light for us,of that you can be sure,and you can also be sure there will be a first accident. Anybody posting on here who thinks we have the clout of the walkers lobby are daft.Who forced the access issue anyway? Like it or lump it we were late to the table and are still looked on as a minority.Which in sales of kit(even allowing for the price of scandal rear mech hangers these days 🙁 ),hotel bookings and spend in local shops we are.

    spooky_b329
    Member

    I mean you Mark…I missed you as I was looking for a username of singletrackworld or a variation of that 🙂

    Premier Icon dRjOn
    Subscriber

    Interesting thread…for the most part.

    I enjoyed sanny’s article. Good pics, interesting area etc. For what its worth, i’ve ridden up there a bit. i know the routes sanny was on well. i’ve been up on bike in atrocious conditions (yes, i had the correct ‘mtn craft’ /clothing/equipment and was a’ok and wasnt about to call out mtn rescue!) buuut even with appalling visibility and driving snow the path was barn door obvious. It would have to be entirely snow bound not to be, and believe me you wouldnt be up there on a bike if it was. Or if you were, you’d probably be staying awhile…

    I cant think where folk think it is possible to venture off the clearly established and wide paths up there, and from what i understand it is venturing off the paths that is likely to cause damage to the ecosystem. You would have to be entirely incompetent to not ride on the path, even in a group, there is little if any possibility of cutting corners or extending rain/meltwater erosion etc. Infact, i cant think that i saw any part of the route that would do anything but erode the rider. I hope that might give some folk some perspective of this particular route. Or if i am missing a part in my minds eye, please enlighten me.

    i think this debate is actually about 2 things.
    a) access by bike in general to areas that may have paths but are not mtb specific/trail centres
    and
    b) access by bike to areas that are either fragile or particularly sensitive politically because they are perceived to be fragile in some way.

    There are lots of interesting and strong thoughts on this thread. Good stuff. But i adhere to the ‘thin end of the wedge and responsible behaviour’ crowd. As far as i am concerned the clock is already ticking down on the sub-arctic up there due to the changes in weather over the last 10 years.

    The other thing to say is that although the route is near road access, it is far, far from what most mountain bikers would be inclined to tackle. To get past the first few hundred meters you will have needed to do some map time and some prep and you will need to have an understanding of what you are getting into. The Am Monadh Ruadh are not the local hills.

    In so doing it is almost impossible not to become aware of the sensitivity of the area.

    Anyway, as an out and back to macdui summit it would be challenging. High risk of injury and bike damage with lots of portage both up and down. Big sharp rocks: high risk of significant weather. Several hours of significant effort. As soon as you cut south east from the summit you are entering multi hour/major issue ride territory. Strath nethy (one way back) for example is almost entirely unrideable if it is even vaguely wet. This is scotland. You are looking at a 3 hour carry in heavy peat or down a river in order to get out that way. Not easy.

    I’m not trying to make this sound overly epic, but the readership of singletrack is a relatively select and narrow cohort, and it is this cohort who will read the article. Of them, precious few have the desire, ability and stamina to ride that trail. But! *many* would appreciate the article.

    Due to it being the micro-select group that demographically it is, the odds are that there will be precious little idiocy if any in that group wanted to ride it. As such i see no issue at all in writing an article about it – it is a beautiful, challenging ride in a beautiful challenging environment: sanny knows this well. No one and no part of the environment was harmed.

    (infact, i am struggling to imagine an idiot or poor rider having the wherewithal to get up there, but if they did, they certainly wouldnt have many mates with them).

    In addition to all this background info: i have met many walkers on those specific trails. and none whatsoever have had any issue with me being there. You might say ‘so what?’ and it is after all anecdotal but i take it as a heartening step forward. Further, no walkers displayed any behaviour i thought was an issue either – i suspect its just as tough a walk as it is ride and so a certain amount of sense comes with the territory. Again, this isnt the lake district.

    In a free world (ha!) there will always be those who dont use common sense (or mountain craft?). There are also those, like the neds who abide on loch lomond side any time the sun comes out, that seem to relish in abusing the environment. You can do nothing about this but try and do *your* best to behave well.

    I wonder if any of that may fill in some of the blanks i saw developing in this thread?

    pastcaring
    Member

    precious few have the desire, ability and stamina to ride that trail. But! *many* would appreciate the article.

    yes that would be me. looks far to painful, i’d need a chairlift. 😳

    probably the best thread i’ve read on here, good points from both sides! (except for a little name calling) and a good article.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    Well said dRjon.

    Even the Loch Lomond problem could be fixed by simply removing the right to wild camping from people using cars, or at least introduce a requirement that they be 5 miles from the car. Cyclists and walkers are unlikely to be contributors to the Loch Lomond problem.

    Punishing the many for the sins of the few is unjust and untenable.

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Nice post dRjOn and one which puts things rather more in perspective. I’ve been up there twice on foot and there is no way I would contemplate doing it on a bike for various reasons, none of which are due to concerns over environmental damage!

    However for all the self righteous chest beating about being more aware of our surroundings that some on here are making,we are PERCEIVED as causing more damage than walkers.

    I find that rather a defeatest attitude, when in fact there appears to be little or no conflict between the user groups and no evidence or complaints that bikes are causing damage or erosion of any kind. Scaremongering about ‘inevitable’ accidents is also going a bit far, as while I’m sure anyone riding there will undoubtedly feel they have ‘earned their downhill’ they will definitely not be on 8″ DH rigs in full body armour + anyone with an ounce of common sense will ride appropriately given the knowledge that any help is a long long way away.

    From what I can gather, this ‘issue’ only appears to be an issue on this thread, and in the actual area we are talking about there does not seem to be a problem at all.

    Maybe it should be kept that way!

    AJ
    Member

    word up Dj.
    nice one Woody

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    From what I can gather, this ‘issue’ only appears to be an issue on this thread

    Exactly! Back in 2006 we rode Stanage Edge and I was universally reamed out on here when I posted photos and the route, yet despite prima facie evidence of our infringement, no prosecution ensued, though I know for a fact at least one member of the STW collective reported us to the park authority. Only one person we met while riding it was at all antagonistic and mumbled “You shouldn’t be here!”, while all the other 70 were friendly and chatty 🙂

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    Having reread the STW thread on Stanage it’s interesting that calls for collective responsibility are still being made, and bans being mentioned with just as little justification.

    MrNutt
    Member

    it never ceases to amaze me the vast levels of hypocritical nonsense spouted in these matters, I’ve no qualms with SSI’s or such like but its the intense activism bandwagoned by certain groups who feel morally compelled to curtail others responsible access rights.

    Personally after experiencing the greed, complicit & backhanded behavior of the Ram.Ass. in their exclusion of all 4wd vehicles from all but ONE PERCENT of the national trail network any comments made to my face whilst I am bothering no-one & treading lightly will receive the contempt that they deserve.

    Premier Icon funkynick
    Subscriber

    Simon… as you know the access issues with Stanage are different to those being discussed in this thread, what with it being a breach of various laws and bye-laws to cycle along the footpath at the top of Stanage.

    So while it would be entirely possible to ride there responsibly in the same manner as riding responsibly on the Cairngorm plateau, the difference is that one of the places we are allowed to be by law, the other we are not.

    But I think everyone here is well aware of your views with regards to that!

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    as you know the access issues with Stanage are different

    do I ? I forget what’s allowed where, it’s so illogical 🙁 But I was talking about the similarities rather than the differences, and it appears that it’s still just as irresponsible even though the legality is better established.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    I’ve just read that Stanage thread.

    It’s amazing, mtbers queuing up to have ourselves banned, dobbing in other riders etc.

    Quite sanctimonious.

    Premier Icon funkynick
    Subscriber

    Now, correct me if I am wrong, but hasn’t this thread been about whether it’s responsible or not to write about a ride on the Cairngorm plateau in light of the concern from various people over the possible erosion/conservation issues. This then went on to a general discussion about the rights and wrongs of riding in such a sensitive environment.

    I’m not re-reading the whole Stanage thread, but I seem to remember the argument there was to do with the right of access and the blatant flaunting of such in a very busy part of the Peak District. I don’t recall any argument being used there on the basis of erosion/conservation.

    So no, I don’t see the similarities between them as one was about riding within the access laws, the other is about riding outside of the access laws.

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    Quite sanctimonious.

    no, I disagreed with that then and I still do. People believed what they said, that we are responsible for our image and if we don’t behave some kind sanction might be imposed. In my opinion, these beliefs are illfounded guesswork (like much of religion for example), but that’s fine so long as they don’t expect everyone else to conform to those beliefs, as if they do they will be sadly disappointed.

    simonfbarnes
    Member

    So no, I don’t see the similarities between them as one was about riding within the access laws, the other is about riding outside of the access laws.

    except that just about everything else said was the same – which kind of confirms my suspicion that the law itself doesn’t matter.

    MrNutt
    Member

    seems clear to me that the damage issue is actually that of walkers not cyclists.

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