800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

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Dave Barter
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Dave Barter » Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:44 pm

I just wish there could be some decent signage. We are so sh1te at this in the UK
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by ScotRoutes » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:42 pm

Dave Barter wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:44 pm
I just wish there could be some decent signage. We are so sh1te at this in the UK
One good reason for following existing routes (e.g. NCN75, WHW). I believe that the An Turas Mor folks are trying to get that signposted anyway.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by whitestone » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Dave Barter wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:44 pm
I just wish there could be some decent signage. We are so sh1te at this in the UK
A few years ago we did some local council/tourist board promoted routes in the Massif Central that were just signed by 6cm square stickers posted up on lamp posts and the like - not the best thing to spot as you were hurtling downhill. Last summer we came across varying levels of signage on their Voies Vertes so it's not just the UK.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by ScotRoutes » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:26 pm

There is also an argument that, if you have to follow some signs instead of reading a map, you shouldn't be there. This is particularly true of some of the more remote off-road sections.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Dave Barter » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:13 am

ScotRoutes wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:26 pm
There is also an argument that, if you have to follow some signs instead of reading a map, you shouldn't be there. This is particularly true of some of the more remote off-road sections.
Ah this old chestnut. It’s not having to follow its wanting to follow. Very different things.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by lune ranger » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:17 am

Dave Barter wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:13 am
ScotRoutes wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:26 pm
There is also an argument that, if you have to follow some signs instead of reading a map, you shouldn't be there. This is particularly true of some of the more remote off-road sections.
Ah this old chestnut. It’s not having to follow its wanting to follow. Very different things.
Quite.
It’s not like the routes aren’t way marked anyway but that they are way marked badly.
No one wins in that situation.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by whitestone » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:20 am

Gents, before we have to wake the pandas up ...

I don't believe either of you are suggesting a sign at every turn but there are occasions where signage not only indicates the route to take but helps avoid confrontation which can only be a good thing.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:18 am

helps avoid confrontation
I think that's one of the biggest plus points in favour of signage. It needn't be blatant, well executed but discreet signage can work very well. However, on the opposing side, I find even here that many people follow signs almost blindly - even when carrying a map. Should the signs stop or get missed, many people then appear to find themselves lost and with no real idea of where they are because they never thought to keep a check on where they were.

Obviously, there's also the issue of money. It's fine raising money for new signs but the potential trouble comes a few years down the line when signs fall off, get damaged or become overgrown. Money never appears to get set-aside for the maintaining and repair.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by sean_iow » Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:47 am

Signs also need to be well executed, 2 examples local to me,

Last night I went down a bridleway I've used before but on that occasion I missed a turn (in the dark) and ended up at a different destination. Last night in the light, and knowing where I should turn off, I had a proper look. There is a sign showing the bridleway branching left and the foot path going straight but it is after the turn off and about 5m down the footpath as it's on an existing post and also partially covered by vegetation. So you have to ride the wrong way to see the sign for the right way :roll:

There is a way-marked route on the Island for the Chalk Ridge Extreme, the signs are specific to the route and have the title and a little bike symbol plus an arrow to direct you. They are square and fixed with a single bolt through the middle onto brackets on existing posts/gates. Someone obviously messed up the order as in 2 locations the route goes left but the arrow would point right, so they put the signs upside down to make the arrow point the correct way.... but some kind soul keeps turning them over so they are the right way up, I guess they don't know the route and think they are doing a good deed. Plus, as they are on one bolt an it's not got a nyloc on the back now the route is a couple of years old people have unscrewed the signs and stolen them.

Both the above are funded by the Council who have a rights of way officer who check these things but that doesn't seem to make a difference. I've reported missing signs before where it's obvious the land-owner has removed them to discourage people from using the path but it takes several emails over months to get any action.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:30 am

If interested in RoW stuff the IPROW page on FB can be illuminating. Written by RoW officers / people, AFAIK, so occasionally I suspect some confirmation-bias creeps in ;-). Quite a dry, sardonic writing style which I find amusing.

Re: signage, I suspect this is a minefield (as some much in RoW seems to be). A local group tried to signpost a set of trails around Wetherby (Red Kite Trails). Generally they were successful apart form the public BW through the Harewood Estate who refused to allow it. I think the landowner can object to anything other than what is listed or specifically allowed for in the schedule for the RoW. It's a shame as the thinking behind the signage was positive, just laying on a little more guidance for folks looking to progress onto the RoW network and ride wider areas, out of their usual knowledge / comfort zone. Maybe some might baulk at the slight whiff of nanny-ism but personally, done well and in the round, I think it's a "good thing".

Pace have done something similar by signing loops on RoW around their shop at Sutton Bank. Again, intended (or at least one of the intentions) to help people bridge from trail centres to RoW.

Oh and the route in the OP was worked on by Kieran Foster at IMBA who I've worked with on various RoW and trailbuilding stuff over the years. He's a rider and a good egg so I imagine, even if there's some flaws in execution, that the intentions for the trail are coming from a good place.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by ScotRoutes » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:30 pm

Dave Barter wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:13 am
ScotRoutes wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:26 pm
There is also an argument that, if you have to follow some signs instead of reading a map, you shouldn't be there. This is particularly true of some of the more remote off-road sections.
Ah this old chestnut. It’s not having to follow its wanting to follow. Very different things.
There are those who can't navigate without signposting and those who choose not to but can when needs dictate.

Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of can'ts around, judging by listening to MRT members talking about another can't who has gone missing in the mountains without a map. At least I think that's what they're saying.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by lune ranger » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:12 pm

No Pandas needed but I don’t buy the argument that signage encourages numpties to get in the trouble in the hills.
Numpties will carry on getting themselves in trouble by whatever means they have, be that signs, maps, gps or phones. That won’t change.
When I talked about signage I mean the NCN and cycle paths in general. I often find myself riding through towns past good looking cycle routes but the signs indicating where they go just aren’t very useful very often. In your car if you have a rough idea of where you want to go road signs will most often get you there. IME if you try to do that by cycle path you come unstuck.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Dave Barter » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:10 pm

As lune ranger says: in towns 1:25000 is not good enough so map zealots can do one. The ncn suffers really badly from bad signage just when you need it, ie trying to avoid cars and find the cycle path on the right side of the road. We do not have reliable mapping at the scale required full stop.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by PaulB2 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:30 pm

In Stafford, if you follow one set of NCN signs you end up at a private road with a Cyclists dismount sign and another one that says No Cyclists with no visible clue that if you walk for a couple of hundred yards along the private road then the NCN route magically justs starts again on a rail trail just off the road. There is an alternative way through a housing estate and a park to that bit of the NCN but some dim bulbs have put a pedestrian gate on it so there’s currently no legal way to cycle on to the cycle path.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:32 pm

The ncn suffers really badly from bad signage just when you need it
Very true. I've always found it to be great on the little lanes and tracks but in built up areas, it's often quite poor. Saying that, I often choose to ignore it in built up areas as I find being taken right round the houses (quite literally) highly frustrating :wink:
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Gregsie » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:03 pm

Relying on signage is similar to relying on a GPS and not taking a map out with you (or taking one and leaving it in your bag). All fine and dandy until it goes wrong and you haven't a clue where you are.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Pirahna » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:35 pm

Gregsie wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:03 pm
Relying on signage is similar to relying on a GPS and not taking a map out with you (or taking one and leaving it in your bag). All fine and dandy until it goes wrong and you haven't a clue where you are.
A rough count says you'd need to start out with about 35 OS Explorer maps for that route. I think I'd be tempted to save £300 and go with a GPS (I have full OS maps on mine).

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by techno mail » Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:37 am

i read that as:
Pirahna wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:35 pm
A rough c*nt says...
there's no need for that sort of language :lol:
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Gregsie » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:26 am

Pirahna wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:35 pm
Gregsie wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:03 pm
Relying on signage is similar to relying on a GPS and not taking a map out with you (or taking one and leaving it in your bag). All fine and dandy until it goes wrong and you haven't a clue where you are.
A rough count says you'd need to start out with about 35 OS Explorer maps for that route. I think I'd be tempted to save £300 and go with a GPS (I have full OS maps on mine).
I'd go for the tighter option of an OS subscription and printing off the bits I needed on A4 sheets. What I normally do.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Ray Young » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:42 am

Gregsie wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:03 pm
Relying on signage is similar to relying on a GPS and not taking a map out with you (or taking one and leaving it in your bag). All fine and dandy until it goes wrong and you haven't a clue where you are.
I'm afraid I no longer take maps with me. If my GPS packs up then I have viewranger 1:50000 on my phone.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Gregsie » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:04 pm

Ray Young wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:42 am
Gregsie wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:03 pm
Relying on signage is similar to relying on a GPS and not taking a map out with you (or taking one and leaving it in your bag). All fine and dandy until it goes wrong and you haven't a clue where you are.
I'm afraid I no longer take maps with me. If my GPS packs up then I have viewranger 1:50000 on my phone.
Good way to do it.
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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone

Post by labrat » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:19 am

Cheeky Monkey wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:30 am
If interested in RoW stuff the IPROW page on FB can be illuminating. Written by RoW officers / people, AFAIK, so occasionally I suspect some confirmation-bias creeps in ;-). Quite a dry, sardonic writing style which I find amusing.

Re: signage, I suspect this is a minefield (as some much in RoW seems to be). A local group tried to signpost a set of trails around Wetherby (Red Kite Trails). Generally they were successful apart form the public BW through the Harewood Estate who refused to allow it. I think the landowner can object to anything other than what is listed or specifically allowed for in the schedule for the RoW. It's a shame as the thinking behind the signage was positive, just laying on a little more guidance for folks looking to progress onto the RoW network and ride wider areas, out of their usual knowledge / comfort zone. Maybe some might baulk at the slight whiff of nanny-ism but personally, done well and in the round, I think it's a "good thing".

Pace have done something similar by signing loops on RoW around their shop at Sutton Bank. Again, intended (or at least one of the intentions) to help people bridge from trail centres to RoW.

Oh and the route in the OP was worked on by Kieran Foster at IMBA who I've worked with on various RoW and trailbuilding stuff over the years. He's a rider and a good egg so I imagine, even if there's some flaws in execution, that the intentions for the trail are coming from a good place.
Cooeeee Tim - long time no speak, hope you’re doing well?

Been a lurker for some time but I thought I’d dip in at this point and do some explaining.

If it helps, the full route guides are now available, subject to a few tweaks, here: https://issuu.com/ctc_cyclists

Hopefully that will show more of the background and level of work involved. After initial research & consultation, along with route options,The full route has been audited and assessed on the ground by Max Darkins, who has written most of the guide.

The initial concept here was to create an interim route for the continuation of the Pennine Bridleway, for those who don’t know, the formal route for this was signed off by the Secretary of State in 2000, and has laid on the shelf ever since. Of course the main section of the PBW remains unfinished at the Glossop Gap to, and Natural England moved on to the coastal path without finishing what they started.

National Trails in E&W have a formal legal status under the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949. (Similar in Scotland under the 1967 Countryside (Scotland) Act for Scotland’s Great Trails) They are actually classified “long-distance routes” and were originally envisaged in the 1947 Hobhouse report as

“long distance paths and bridleways in and between National Parks and Conservation Areas”

and that

“There should be continuous routes which will enable walkers and riders to travel the length and breadth of the Parks, moving as little as possible on the motor roads”

- what a flipping amazing vision!

In this 70th anniversary year of the ‘49 Act, we wanted to do something that recapured this vision. As a mountain biker I saw this national trail concept as something entirely different from the NCN network, with different goals and target market - we were looking at this, and openly discussing the possibility of LEJOG as a National Trail standard route innorder to recapture that original vision and as something for Natural England to consider after the coastal path was finished,

During that, we ended up speaking to the An Turas Mor Guys, who had approached us about LEJOG, and we could all see the real potential to link the missing PBW Northern extension upwards as the first real tangible step.

At this stage, most of the published route has used existing routes - there’s a couple of reasons there, we know that on the national trails, for example, there’s ongoing maintenance funding and an agreed standard, so if you ride it chances are that it will be in good condition, well signed etc. We know you’re unlikely to end up stuck in a bog or finding a locked gate to lift your laden bike over, that would have been a real risk if we had tried to blaze our own trail. We’re as confident as we can be that you’ll make decent progress rather than end up lost in a bog, doing an impression of the quicksand scene in blazing saddles. most of the route is on Land Rover type tracks and bridleways, and there aren't really many significant sections of road or tarmac south of the border, but a few more in the highlands where traffic isn’t so much of a problem. As regards route choice, There’s always compromises to be made, one of the other issues was ensuring we took in places with enough of a tourist infrastructure to support users - a choice of B&B’s, hostels, places to eat, bike shops & train stations etc.

We’ve been in discussion both with landowners like the FC, who were somewhat shy about new promoted routes on some of their sites, but who we were able to compromise with, and a number of other stakeholders and landowners - in places we have had up to four route options to really choose between, some of them prevented by a short stretch of footpath. Some of the discussions here are still underway, and if successful, the the ‘A line’ for the route (our preferred route) will see some further improvements on the current interim line - but waiting for it to be perfect wasn’t really a solution, some of these issues have remained unresolved for 20 years, For example one of our key target future changes for the route is to go up High Cup Nick and past Cow Green reservoir - but there’s a 1.5 mile stretch of footpath in the way, that’s been a bone of contention for years - negotiations continue, but we can’t *make* the local authority push through a creation order, and in fact it may be the very attention and leverage that we gain by having the route up and running that will make changes happen - it also gives us an opportunity to go and talk to government and councils with a real world reason to tell them why the current system isn’t working and press them to deliver legislation changes (once they’ve all got over the Brexit infighting...)

As far as we’re concerned, there’s really four short sections of busier road on the route we really aren’t entirely happy with, but were really difficult to find any ‘less worse’ alternative, all of which we are really keen to solve as a priority: Glossop gap; Section round lambley viaduct; 800m on Military road North of Haltwhistle & a stretch of A road entering Contin, due to the closure to the public of the nearby dam.

Finally, on the issue of Signage. This is a complex one. In some areas there’s real push back against more signs, but actually more the issue is the legislation. With support of the local Highway Authority, signs can be erected on existing LA furniture (and Cycling UK actually carry some legal powers regards temporary signs) but new posts, or signs on gateposts etc. that do not belong to the highway authority require permission of the Landowner. Obviously that’s not practical for an 800 mile route, but concentrating on GPS also allows us to tweak the route as ongoing improvements happen. We’ve also made sure that all routes are available on the OS maps App.

I hoe that gives some more of. Happy to answer any questions.
Last edited by labrat on Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:07 am

Cooeeee Tim - long time no speak, hope you’re doing well?
Thank Christ I was nice about you :wink: All good thanks Kie, still building and a bit of advocacy. Never happier than hacking back veg, rock pitching and pushing a barrow (the last one's a lie!).

I see you can still "hold forth" on a subject with a level of detail and enthusiasm :cool:

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by labrat » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:51 am

Good to hear :cool:

Wait till someone gets me on the passage of the 1949 and ‘68 countryside acts through Parliament, and how the original aim, that these routes would be open to cyclists & horseriders (with ‘Long-distance route’ being a classification of its own , a bit like ‘special roads’ for motorways) but that this got watered down.

A few of you may be interested in this 1953 map:
0AAB332F-B9D2-4058-BF2F-0A68A66A0011.jpeg
0AAB332F-B9D2-4058-BF2F-0A68A66A0011.jpeg (212.24 KiB) Viewed 705 times
The way the existing routes (South Downs way, north Downs way, ridgeway) were proposed to connect up in the South of England is fascinating, and has fed in to part of our future planning. We know there is a potential 200 mile circular off-road route out there for the grabbing, and we have a draft route already.

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Re: 800 miles, 98% off road - anyone?

Post by whitestone » Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:10 am

It will be interesting to see if this increases usage of the PBW. We live pretty close to it (we're a little way SW of Skipton) and it's rare to see any tyre tracks on those sections away from the main MTB centres. In fact there's very little evidence of usage by the horse riding fraternity either - earlier this year we were riding above Wycoller and got chatting to a local woman out walking her dogs who reckoned that it was lack of facilities such as parking that was partly the reason. I've commented before on the overgrown nature of the section across the Craven Gap between Gisburn and Long Preston which suggests near zero usage by any group.

The above is just observation, not comment or criticism BTW.

Cheeky Monkey noted the signage around Sutton Bank - I believe that this "centre" was intended to be a stepping stone between the hand holding of trail centres and "the great outdoors", Dales Bike Centre in Swaledale acts in a similar way.

Getting landowners to agree to footpaths or bridleways on their land is fraught with difficulties, it introduces restrictions on the farmer/landowner about where they can graze stock, particularly bulls, for example. A farmer near us has a footpath (including the Pennine Way) through virtually everyone of his fields and he can't just put up a sign saying "Danger, Bull in Field" as that's acknowledging that the animal is dangerous and that it shouldn't be in the field in the first place! So it's not as easy as saying "may we route across this field?".

I grew up on a farm on the edge of the Lake District NP. My father's attitude was that he was lucky to live in such a beautiful place and that having seen them he wouldn't want to live in a terraced house next to a mill or factory so if those people living there wanted to head out into the country then he had no issues with people walking anywhere on the farm providing they didn't get in the way of him doing his job, so not leaving gates open, not walking through crops, etc. Basically following the Country Code and not being a dick.

It's a difficult job to sell improved access to the countryside but increased usage of the village shop, café, pub by "outsiders" means that those businesses stand a chance of remaining viable and so help maintain that community rather than them just becoming another satellite ghost village with increasing numbers of second homes.
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