Which area of Cranham are we talking about?
Coming from Birdlip, where the road splits, taking the right turn to Painwick (Buckholt Rd), the area starts here, on your left, and continues all the way down past the Sawmill, the Little Red House and to the post box on the left where there is a turning. I've linked the start and end below.
For those familiar with the trails, this includes "The Shrine" and the twisty DH trail that comes off it and the short section from the Sawmill to the open area where there are signs for no fly tipping / dumping. There are also tracks that cut through here from when you come from the Campsite direction and cross the Slad road into it.
Update: It is with regret that I have to report that the restrictions on us are wider than I first thought. Yes we have this issue around the Shrine area as it is private land. When I heard that signs were being erected by Natural England about no MTBing, I assumed this was on this bit of land. It isn't. It affects all the remaining routes we use down to the A46, includes the Wall, UB40, down towards Coopers Hill, the works. Essentially, if it SSSI and NE are involved, we're only welcome if riding bridlepaths. This will be a major loss of the enjoyment we have here.
Why has this situation recently arisen?
This land has recently been purchased and the new land owner who is not in favour of Mountain bikes using it. This is combined with Natural England's displeasure having a duty to look after it as it forms part of the Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods SSSI.
Do cyclists have a right to access this land?
Others may have their opinions and know more on this but there are no legal rights of way for cyclists, although walkers are allowed some form of access by right (I think). Put simply, this is private land and the owners do not want us using it, although they have expained the reason for this as environmental concern.
What contact has been made with the owner / Natural England about this?
I have spoken to Mrs Tyson who now owns this land (with her Husband). She was appreciative that someone from a cycling group has made contact with them as it gave her an opportunity to explain their reasons. It appears it is the large quantity of MTBers that are using the trails that is the issue. She is concerned that track construction is uncontrolled and damaging to the woodland. The digging of some jumps there is a big concern. I have suggested that we could assist their duty to help conserve the land by assisting with work parties to clear unwanted scrub and other work they need to do. Natural England's rep Paul Hackman is also concerned about the damage to this SSSI.
The response I got from Mrs Tyson was that they were not prepared to negotiate and if we wanted to, come back to them in a couple of years when things had calmed down.
I have got the address of the Tysons for reference so we can make a formal appeal to them.
So what now??
Signs are apparenetly being put up by Natural England stating no cycling in this area.
Policing this ban will be nearly impossible by the land owner although they could try and tear up the trails / block them.
I think we have, as a responsible organisation, a duty to do our best to work as hard as possible towards an amicable solution. The Tysons will soon see over time that trying to alienate riders from tracks they have enjoyed for many many years will only cause themselves and riders hassle. The way I see it, if we can get agreement (and possibly financial backing from the club) to have a select number of tracks to ride there we make them as sustainable as possible and this might mean importing stone onto areas that traditionally "bog up" and then some signage indicating where riders are allowed to ride. We can have regular meetings with the Tysons to hear concerns thay may have and help out with some non-bike related conservation work there too.
We can't force riders to stay clear of this area until such time we have a mutually beneficial agreement in place (if we get one...) but I think we should at least make riders (club and non-club) aware of the current situation. If we as riders start getting ugly about it, it jeopardies our chances of settling this in our favour.
I will be speaking to the Club Committee about making a formal representation to the Tysons and at least getting a meeting arranged so we can argue our case.
I will be liaising with Bigfoot MTB who I know built many of the trails in this area and seeing what their opinions are on this. If anyone is aware of other "clubs" or "groups" that regularly ride this area, please let me have their contact details and I will inform them.
This is not for me to decide, but I think it would be prudent to avoid the area for the time being on club (or non club) rides. I'll leave that decision to individuals.
Felling on the Racetrack
The Racetrack is blocked in two places at the moment due to tree felling. See pics attached. I spoke to one of the contractors doing the work and he reckoned it should all be cleared in a couple of weeks. Please be careful if you try and ride this, especailly in the dark!!! This bit of land we are not faced with any opposition to our use, it's just all the rest!!!!