Posts Tagged ‘Chapel Gate’

Posts about the track Chapel Gate in the Peak District.

Chapel Gate Maintenance 2011 – Pictures


The Chapel Gate track in Edale has been resurfaced and turned into a smooth motorway. The long and very rocky track was previously considered by many, us included, to be one of the most technically challenging (legal) tracks in the area. This is a sad day for mountain biking in the Peak District.


Last Tuesday we went up and took some pictures of the new state of the track, although we only had time for pictures from the bottom of the main section.

[Gallery Link]11-05-18 Chapel Gate Track, 11 pictures of the current and previous state of the track.

[Gallery Link]10-01-21 Chapel Gate JI+JK, 16 Pictures by Jeff & Irwin.

Whilst the smoothing out (or “sanitising” to some) of technically challenging tracks in the Peak District often results in out cry from mountain bikers in online forums and in discussions with fellow bikers out on the tracks, there are a few more complicated issues at play with this one.

  • Chapel Gate is a BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic), so walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders, horses and carts ( 😆 ), motor bikes, quad bikes and 4×4 vehicles can all legally use it.
  • Derbyshire County Council are responsible for maintenance of the track and the cost of doing so. The Peak District National Park Authority has helped with the assessment of the track.
  • They are aware that the track is popular with mountain bikers, but bikers’ enjoyment of the technical challenge of the track isn’t their priority (assuming they appreciate it to start with – how would they know?).
  • The main section of the track cuts across the hill side for 1km, with about a 0.5km² area draining onto it – that’s a lot of water in the winter. (See the map…)
  • The plastic drainage pipes, fitted some years ago, were inevitably uncovered by erosion and the pipes were crushed and shattered by the weight of vehicles (exercising their legal right to use the track). Arguably if maintenance had been done earlier a lot of damage could have been prevented.
  • The failure of drainage lead to a lot of water going down the track, causing, and greatly accelerating, a lot erosion. At the bottom of the main section, at the gate where it flattens out, all the water was draining off into a farmer’s field, carving a deep trench and spewing out soil and debris from the track.
  • Some sections (particularly the bottom of the main section) became a deep gully, down to the gritstone bedrock, this led to the grass bank being used and eroded as the main line was either impassable, difficult, or less attractive to users (walkers could legally do so as it’s Open Access land).
  • Doing nothing was not a long term option. – When assessed for Sustainability by the Peak Park it got the worst score possible.
  • It might have been possible to have done the maintenance in a way that would have left the track in state more enjoyable to mountain bikers, e.g. embedding large rocks in the top surface, but this would certainly have taken longer and cost more.
  • The estimated cost to repair it was £200,000, with a further £20,000 annually for maintenance. (Estimated some time between 2006 and 2009.)
  • In December 2010 the Peak Park launched a six week consultation on a proposal to trial banning motorised vehicles for a year and half. No decision has been announced yet.
    EDIT: On 3/6/11 it was announced that it would closed to motors for a year and half.
  • Between 1st March 2011 and 31 May 2011, the track was closed for the maintenance work.
  • Work is planned on other local BOATs, but probably (hopefully) won’t be as severe:
    • Long Causeway, Stanage – “Significant repairs” already done
    • Brough Lane, Bradwell – Maintenance imminent
    • Bamford Clough, Bamford – Maintenance and improvement to the safety of concrete parts
    • Pin Dale, Hope / Castleton – Currently has problems with vehicles going off the track
    • The Roych, Chinley / Edale – Currently has problems with vehicles going off the track
    • Hurstclough Lane, Bamford – To be assessed for maintenance
    • Shatton Lane, Shatton / Abney – probably ok, being monitored
    • There are more further afield (this the links below)

Sources and further info:
Chapel Gate Experimental Traffic Order – Peak District National Park Authority
Sensitive routes – Peak District National Park Authority
Chapel Gate Route Management Plan [PDF] – Peak District National Park Authority
Vehicles in the Countryside: March 2011 [PDF] – Peak District National Park Authority
LAF Vehicle Sub-group Meeting 5/8/2010 [PDF] – Peak District National Park Authority

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Whilst it would be easy to agree with banning vehicles from Chapel Gate, and other places they can legally drive, based on the damage they cause and subsequently cost, it’s perhaps a short-sighted view. Assuming a ban would be followed, where would they go instead? Would this increase traffic and therefore erosion and cost of maintenance on other BOATs? Would they then become like Chapel Gate and get similar bans? Would this lead to more illegal use and damage in less sustainable areas or on bridleways mountain bikers value? Another valid question is; can the council (and therefore taxpayers) continue to pay a lot of money to maintain the enjoyment of a relatively small user group?
Hard problems don’t have simple solutions.

As mountain bikers who enjoy technically challenging rocky descents and don’t enjoy smoothed out sandy motorways suitable only for family leisure cycling, we a take a certain amount of pleasure in seeing such “improvements” returned to rocky mayhem by the elements, but will this take much longer if vehicles are banned?

There are many good examples of self-sustaining rocky technical tracks, Hope Cross DH and Gores being two (bridleways). One thing most tracks will benefit from, though, is targeted maintenance; stopping water flowing down the track or draining dips where it collects and becomes a mud bath. The only question that remains is who will do this targeted maintenance, where are the fabled trail fairies?

Mountain bikers want maintenance to be carried out in a way that’s sympathetic to their use and enjoyment of the trails – that’s only going to happen if mountain bikers are involved in doing it. No one is going to come and ask us how we’d like it done if we don’t get off our back sides (or saddles more likely) and do something ourselves.

Chapel Gate Helmet Camera

The Chapel Gate track page helmet camera run is now available for download.

VidPic_08'10'05 Chapel_Gate_HeadCam.JPG

The helmet camera is shane following Irwin, let us know what you think.
Head Cam Link 08-10-05 Chapel Gate HeadCam Mid

Four Recent Evening Rides with The Four

I’ve been out riding various DH routes recently, but not really had much time to write about them (or made the effort), so heres a round up of the last four rides featuring the current four ‘usual suspects’.

21st April, Chapel Gate
Nicky and I parked at the back of Mam Tor and sessioned the bridleway there for a while before riding along Rushup Edge to reach Chapel Gate, somewhere I’d never ridden (although Nicky had probably ridden it once years ago, like everywhere else), I knew it was rocky but I was still surprised how rocky, it was still good fun tho and we got some nice shots.

Picture links 08-04-21 Chapel Gate NB+JK, 13 Pictures

6th May, Jacob’s Ladder, Edale
I got a lift over to Edale with Ben and we parked at Shane’s pub, before a fair distance of road (and ‘road’) riding to get to Jacob’s Ladder, we decided to walk and carry our bikes up the steeper but shorter footpath to the main corner. The name ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ originates from the Bible where a guy called Jacob saw in a dream a stairway (or ladder) leading from Earth up to Heaven. It certainly felt like it was going to Heaven by the time we’d got near the top, especially with all my camera gear. On the subject of which I later realised I hadn’t brought any discs for my camcorder, nuts! So this let concentrating on pictures, which worked out quite well.

Ben was on his first outing on his ‘new’ Kona Stab which had all sorts of randomly sourced parts on it, having previously been on a much lighter XC full-sus Rocky Mountain, he soon found the joys of riding the more tech rocky lines rather than taking the smoothest line. We pushed all the way to the top and got a few pictures on the first straight, and then Shane found a drop off a drainage feature. We did a helmet cam train on the way down, and all had fairly good runs. Then back to Shane’s pub (The Nag’s Head, Edale) and enjoyed a pint and review of the footage and pictures before heading home.

Picture links 08-05-06 Jacobs Ladder Shane+Ben+JK, 30 Pictures

12th May, WinHill
Nicky, Ben and I met up for some riding on WinHill, we spent the whole time riding as the tracks were riding that well, so we only took a few pictures on our last descent, and after processing they have been rationed to one per person. On the way home I had the weird experience of a bat brushing across my shoulder!, I kept my head down after that.

13th May, HopeX-DH
I met Shane as I ascended the bridleway out of Aston as he’d had time and energy to spare and rode down to meet me. We pushed up, then rode down the ridge and then into the woods at the top of HopeX-DH, no sooner than we closed the gate Nicky appeared pushing up, “I love it when a plan comes together” 😀 . We sectioned the track filming each other, moving fast to keep the light, and got pretty much the whole track. Nicky then left us and Shane and I pushed back up to the first corner where I pulled the stills camera out, and inevitably the flash too as it was too dark for natural light, and we mastered a line with a nice rock jump at the end of it. As it got dark we returned up the ridge and then down the Aston bridleway. I nearly hit a rabbit on the road down from Aston, good job it moved otherwise I would have had to bunny hop it! 😆 😀 ( …and I can’t bunny hop 🙁 ).

Picture links 08-05-13 HopeX-DH Shane+JK, 7 Pictures

Hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings, and if you ever think we’re being lazy and not putting up any content remember to check out the gallery cos we’re probably put up pictures and not written any words to go with them (the story of my education…). Anyway I’m riding tomorrow night, o and Friday night, so I need some sleep now.

In conclusion, the tracks and weather are great for evening rides at the moment, so get out there and ride!!!