Trail Sanitisation…With Jumps!

Published on: Sep 22 2013 by Jon Swift

BoarThe Rolling Boar routes is a project PMBA is currently working on to create a sign posted and mapped series of routes starting and ending at the new trailhead in Lee Quarry. Work is ongoing on the ground with repairs taking place to various sections in a poor state, work is currently being done on the bridleway above the ski slope in Rossendale to try and alleviate some of the damage done by previous inappropriate repairs. Work is also being done to fund and produce the signage and maps, PMBA members can view some of the draft artwork here.

DeerplyThe bridleway across Deerplay Moor has been improved, but thankfully this time not by dumping tonnes of loose chippings to create a two metre wide motorway. As part PMBAs Rolling Boar routes project Tony Lund has had the contractors in to sort out the section of bridleway that runs off the Mary Towneley Loop up over Thieveley Pike and beyond.  
As a fairly important link across the top of the Rossendale valley, the Deerplay bridleway has always been a disappointing ride. This section is boggy during the winter and often most of the summer as well. As you ascend towards the trig point you slog up a muddy, eroded gully on foot before continuing the climb on a leg killing grassy slope. Not any more, the boggy section has been completely rebuilt along with proper drainage, the gully has been tamed and is now rideable (or is if you are fit enough, it’s still steep and presents a good challenge) and the grassy climb has been transformed into a much more pleasurable hard riding surface and a corking descent.

DeerplyWhen I rode this section up from the Mary Towneley I had intended to carry on over the top and down the other side. Having ridden up it I changed my mind and immediately rode back down. The trail flows very nicely and I even got air on some of the jumps (sorry drainage features – T Lund). The upper sections have been repaired very sympathetically using a technique called soil inversion. Instead of bringing tonnes of imported material in, the top soil is removed and the sub soil brought up to form the riding surface. This clay type soil is way better to ride on and much more natural in feel than other surfacing techniques. Despite only being done two months ago you’d be hard pressed to realise there had been heavy machinery here. The ditches that have been dug have been carefully re-turfed using the grass from the trail line and because there was no need for loads of stone to be brought in minimal damage was done to the surrounding landscape.

DeerplayWhilst I was up there it was good to see people actually using the route and not just mountain bikers either. A couple on horses passed me first. We chatted for a few minutes and it was good to get their reaction to the improvements. Despite a commonly held belief amongst some riders that it’s the horse riders who have pushed for some of the desecration of trails in Calderdale and the Peaks it would appear they also hate the pea gravel treatment. It’s apparently pretty dangerous to the horses who can lose their footing and end up breaking a leg. Working more closely with equestrian groups around access and quality of rights of way is something PMBA is currently looking at.

Closely following the horse riders were a group of mountain bikers who also appreciated the work that’s been done, they certainly enjoyed the descent down to the Mary Towneley Loop.

This whole section is really a bit of a master class in what can be done with natural routes, you can repair them to the mutual benefit of all users and you don’t need to trash the landscape or bring in thousands of tonnes of road scalpings to build a sustainable trail. It would be nice if some of the other local authorities came and had a look.

Trail Improvements

A new access gate has been built into the existing wall (point 1) and the bridleway gate has been improved and now opens smoothly. The horrendous boggy section (points 1 to 2) has had the most work done with significant material brought in to provide a solid riding surface. This section is already greening up nicely and should be back to singletrack width next summer. Proper drainage has been put in along this section (something that is so often missed when trails are built or repaired) so hopefully it won’t bog up again.

Rebuilt trail, New drainage and stream crossing, Upgraded bridleway gate & New access gate



The section through the gully had been getting progressively more eroded over time, with the upper section all but unrideable. The stream crossing was somewhat dicey, particularly with the loose rocks that kept appearing in the water (stepping stones?). It’s now very different.

Deerplay6 Deerplay7 Deerplay8
3 The repaired climb 3 Stream crossing 3 Top of the climb

The grassy climb / fast descent, the drainage features on the way down add an extra dimension, just scrub your speed before the gully otherwise the off camber corner will throw you into the void. Man made trail it may be, trail centre point and shoot it is not.

Deerplay14 Deerplay15 Deerplay9
4 New Trail with ‘Drainage Features’ 5 New trial with proper drainage to the right

Deerplay10 Deerplay11
6 Theiveley Pike Trig Point 7 Resurfaced and drained gateway

DEFRASubmitted Comments

Excellent work. I remember it being very boggy, so haven’t been along there for ages. Look forward to trying it. –Liam Spencer
Looks gnarly. – Ellis McCarthy
Huge improvement lets hope the crossers stay off it now. – Graham
Looks good looking forward to linking the PB with this when time permits. Also i have been very impressed with the work carried out at the back of the ski slope as being a resident on the estate below i use it quite regular and i do like Mr Lunds “drainage features” up there as well 🙂 how is progress with the ski slope route? – Steve Opie
I rode this section a few months ago linking up from brown wardle and found it an excellent add on, I have also ridden the new section at the side of ski Rossendale both up and down which was never achievable before, they have done a fantastic job which looks like it will survive a downpour or two unlike tracks in the past. Some nice jumps and rollers on the track as well which accommodate all abilities of rider. – Rob
Thanks for all the feedback, ski slope repairs should be about finished now Steve – PMBA
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