Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

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CREPELLO
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Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby CREPELLO » 3 Apr 2011, 3:51pm

So what is acceptable regarding the use of a MTB on footpaths? It's not legal - I know, but is there a the level of tolerance/understanding from other users in certain areas?

I'd like to do more upland cycling, but all too often the legal routes (bridleways etc) are very deeply rutted or badly mashed by CX motorcyclists or 4x4's.

In addition I've noticed on the OS maps there are certain paths marked by black dashes, described as 'paths' but not necessarily of a legal right of way. Would the the legal position of using these paths differ from public footpaths?

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Si
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Si » 3 Apr 2011, 4:06pm

I think that it very much depends on where you are. Where I do (did) most of my upland offroading no one cared if it was a BW or FP, indeed, all the paths were used by off road motor cycles so the walkers cared little about a few slow and quiet MTBers.

In other places (the tourist trap, honey spots) I'd guess that people would be a little less tolerant.

As for the black dashes - they just mark paths or roads (that in many cases aren't visible any more) across the land. Their legal status should be no different to the land surrounding them unless there is a BW, FP, etc marked on top of them.

drossall
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby drossall » 3 Apr 2011, 5:31pm

You're asking about other users, but the land-owner's view is likely to be important too. On the whole, if there isn't a bridle-way or other right of way, you're on someone else's land without the right to be there.

irc
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby irc » 3 Apr 2011, 6:32pm

CREPELLO wrote:So what is acceptable regarding the use of a MTB on footpaths? It's not legal - I know, but is there a the level of tolerance/understanding from other users in certain areas?


Just to clarify - in Scotland you can cycle any footpath. With a few exceptions you can walk or cycle anywhere, on or off road.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

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CREPELLO
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby CREPELLO » 3 Apr 2011, 8:54pm

drossall wrote:You're asking about other users, but the land-owner's view is likely to be important too. On the whole, if there isn't a bridle-way or other right of way, you're on someone else's land without the right to be there.
Accepted. It's also unlikely that I would be cycling across fenced pasture land, but more the upland terrain. The paths marked by black dashes still leave me a little confused. Take the ridge path that goes across the length of the Berwyns. Apparently it's not a public right of way, but looking on google earth there are styles over fences and photo's, demonstrating popularity with walkers. Are they trespassing too, so that we're equally culpable.

I do feel uneasy about adopting a gung-ho approach to using paths, if it's causing affront. I guess it's a matter of how many people are doing it. After all, the hills and valleys near me will often echo to the sound of motor cross bikes at weekend and those riders certainly unnerve me as they roar past me on the lanes. Then I'll have to give way to a convoy of 4x4's at other times. I don't want to have a similar effect on walkers. Having said that, as I don't use a car, but would still like to access remote landscapes, I'd say my using the MTB to actually get there is having less impact on the environment than the masses descending on it by car.

Any Rough Stuff folks care to comment?

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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby iviehoff » 7 Apr 2011, 11:39am

CREPELLO wrote:Any Rough Stuff folks care to comment?

The Rough-Stuff Fellowship has a code of practice http://www.rsf.org.uk/codeprac.htm which, in the relevant part, reads as follows.

Ride only bridleways, byways, designated cycleways and some forestry tracks, or towpaths where permissible. There is no legal right to ride on public footpaths.

Avoid confrontation over rights of way and seek to achieve conciliation, or back down. In cases of dispute, seek to follow up on a legal basis subsequently, either individually, or through an organisation. Waymark colour coding: byways red, bridleways blue, footpaths yellow.
(NOTE Rights of Way may differ in Scotland)

The RSF in advocating that members should use only those routes as described above, recognises that members may from time to time elect to use a route, either wheeling or walking with a cycle, that is not a designated way. In such cases it is recommended that extreme caution and care be exercised; particularly so in sensitive areas.


In England and Wales, there are some paths shown on maps which are not designated rights of way. It is in general impossible to know what the situation in relation to them without specific investigation. In some cases, it marks where actual paths go when the right of way on the map has become disused, or is irrational, impassible, etc. But the path down your garden to the shed is an example of a path which is not a right of way, which, if mapped, would be marked as such, and if you had a large enough garden the OS might choose to show it on a map. Clearly you would be unhappy about people walking around your garden on your paths without permission, so you cannot rely that a path so marked is even accessible to you. On the other hand, there are paths and cycleways you are permitted to use which are not even marked on the map in any form.

Sometimes new rights of way are created but don't find their way onto OS maps, or at least not for a very long time. For example, there are rights of way local to me which have been there for over 10 years, but have still not appear on OS maps, despite several more recent revisions. The OS does not tend to revise maps for "minor" changes such as footpaths, except at relatively infrequent full revisions.

The Berwyn is a popular area for the RSF, and I am aware of the path along the top of the Berwyn, and that it appears to be regularly used to the extent of having stiles, etc. I confess to having taken a bicycle along it, maybe more than once, and know quite a lot of others have done so. Why does it have stiles? I don't know. Perhaps a thoughtful landowner recognises longstanding use of the route and preferred to preserve his fences and walls. Perhaps once some access arrangements were negotiated. It is one of those things that are hard to say even in Britain's relatively well-mapped countryside, without specific local research.

In 25 years of RSF membership, I can only recall three occasions when a farmer expressed some dissatisfaction to my riding group about RoW issues. Once we had got lost and were off the RoW, and were heading to the nearest way out by the shortest route. Another occasion a route signpost as a bridleway at the end we set off on turned into a footpath at an administrative boundary in the middle of nowhere, but the farmer picking us up let us proceed on foot. Another occasion we had just embarked on a bridleway, but the farmer just denied it was a RoW at all, regardless of the map in our hands, and insisted we take a different route. I am sure I have used that bridleway on other occasions without problems.

RSF members are mostly the kind of cyclist that do walk with their bikes on tricky surfaces. Whilst the law gives you no explicit right to walk on a public footpath while wheeling a bike, it is something that has exceedingly rarely been prevented.

Ivan Viehoff
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CREPELLO
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby CREPELLO » 11 Apr 2011, 8:21pm

Many thanks Ivan for that comprehnsive advice.

How long till England get's parity with Scotland on footpath access? And I wonder if there have been any issues between walkers and cyclists sharing as there are on the urban paths?

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Steve Kish
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby Steve Kish » 11 Apr 2011, 9:58pm

My MTB lot tend to give maximum consideration to other users on both footpaths and bridleways as we sometimes can't tell which one we are on. :shock:
Old enough to know better but too young to care.

burstleg
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby burstleg » 19 Aug 2011, 5:42pm

Si wrote:I think that it very much depends on where you are. Where I do (did) most of my upland offroading no one cared if it was a BW or FP, indeed, all the paths were used by off road motor cycles so the walkers cared little about a few slow and quiet MTBers.

In other places (the tourist trap, honey spots) I'd guess that people would be a little less tolerant.

As for the black dashes - they just mark paths or roads (that in many cases aren't visible any more) across the land. Their legal status should be no different to the land surrounding them unless there is a BW, FP, etc marked on top of them.


This is the correct answer, it all depends on "the laws of the land" essentially. Some places are very accepting and hikers, etc are welcoming, but there are other spots where people get possessive of their trails. Just kind of ask around and do some research before you head out. Usually, I am more worried about having inexpensive health insurance in case I get run over by an unruly mountain biker than whether or not I am actually allowed to go.
Last edited by burstleg on 29 Aug 2011, 11:13pm, edited 1 time in total.

tramponabike
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby tramponabike » 20 Aug 2011, 3:09pm

Despite my own general agreement with the sentiment, "this land is our land", I would personally follow the RSF guidelines as posted by Ivan above.

I am not only a touring cyclist who likes to get away from motors, but also a regular hill walker and I also enjoy MTB'ing. Even as a walker I have concerns about the damage we are doing, and that I inevitably contribute to, on popular hills and routes. Unfortunately, even reasonable and otherwise perfectly acceptable demands for access must be managed if we are to protect the very places we all want to visit.

On the topic of allowing increased access for cycling on designated footpaths, I would have to allow the walker in me to disappoint the cyclist. A walker or group of walkers affect the immediate atmosphere and the future ecology with far less impact than a comparable group of MTB's. In fact, apart from getting in the way, walkers do not generally impinge on the pleasures of MTB'ing. Unfortunately though, and without any deliberate intent or malice, the regular appearance of mtb's on a footpath would totaly deny many of the pleasures that hill walkers are seeking.

TonyR
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby TonyR » 20 Aug 2011, 3:48pm

Wasn't the whole Three Peaks (Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent) caused by mountain bikers using footpaths? Now the only cycling is cyclo-cross bikes only on the day of the race.

reohn2
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby reohn2 » 21 Aug 2011, 12:09pm

Just my 2d's worth as someone who likes to take to tracks, bridleways and if theres a particular footpath connecting two permitted riding paths,will use it(but its a rare occurance)with care and consideration for walkers which is shown by dismounting and walking or standing off the path in their presence.

The only time I've been annoyed by a cyclist riding on footpaths is whilst out hillwalking with someone suffering from anxiety problems,when the walking was part of her recouperation, only for a moron riding an MTB to shoot past us at close quarters and at quite a lick and shout "HI" over his shoulder,he gave me a start, the lady I was with jumped out of her skin and needed some calming down even to continue the walk.
Yesterday I was riding a local towpath where an angling match was taking place,one angler had his pole across the tow path and said as I approached "I'll only be a minute","thats OK"I replied "thats as much you're pleasure as cycling is mine" there then followed a discussion about how some cyclists won't wait a few moments and become abusive toward anglers who they come across.
Two instances that that can potentially alienate cyclists to all and sundry,the problem is one of a lack of repect for others and aknowledgement of coexistence by some IMO.
I also find if I'm approaching someone from behind whilst cycling offroad if speak to them by saying "just coming bye on you're left" etc when a few metres away and slow down, most aknowledge it with a "thankyou". I much prefere to speak rather than use a bell.
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jb
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby jb » 21 Aug 2011, 2:22pm

Ordnance survey maps are a plan of the ground so they will mark any feature including old abandoned walls or tracks regardless of their legal status, providing it is large enough for the scale being used. The red dotted or dashed lines (or green on 1:25 maps) mark that there is a right of way along a particular piece of terrain. They do not mean that there is necessarily a visible track though there usually is. They also do not mean that other vehicles cannot use them, just that walkers or horse riders etc can. A track is designated as to what can and can't use it by the definitive map held by the council, and will often be signed 'Footpath only' or whatever.

Hence you will often see on a map the public footpath /Bridle way going across a fell side using one route but the black dotted line marking the actual existing path that walkers use in reality going on a slightly different course. This can be caused by people simply finding a better route across bog-land for instance.

A well used path or track that is not a right of way can become concessional this simply means the land owner does not mind the path being used but wishes to retain the right to close it should the need arise and prevents it from becoming a public right of way under the 20yr rule.
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reason
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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby reason » 6 Oct 2013, 11:30am

Is the route between Harter Fell and Nan Bield Pass designated for MTBs or is it a footpath?

I passed about a dozen MTBs descending there yesterday whilst walking.

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Re: Mountain biking on upland footpaths.

Postby DDW » 9 Oct 2013, 11:36am

I have looked into this after being confronted by an angry man!

I live near national trust, woodland trust and Dartmoor. I have walked many places with my dogs and had started to cycle my regular haunts extending my range and the dogs fun. After the angry confrontation I had a look online myself and found the following site

http://www.openaccess.naturalengland.or ... MapSearch/

It is a site that will show you an area and indicate whether the area is Access land, it is not legal to cycle on access land unless on a defined and permitted cycle path. It surprised me that much of Dartmoor was access land. I now check before I go anywhere new.
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