Sunday, 5 December 2010

Rough and smooth

Conditions in this bridleway near Dinas Powys, South Wales were interesting when recently, I looked for a bit of rough-stuff cycling and found the cold early winter conditions provided some smooth going. I'd thrown the folder into the car on a recent visit in the hope of doing a little exercise. I wasn't sure what to expect but once off the tarmac, it coped amazingly well. This lane receives a lot of run-off water draining from the neighbouring fields. It had created a thick layer of ice along most of its length, which made progress slow but interesting - I was glad I was going uphill. I got some strange looks, perhaps because onlookers were amazed anyone would ride what is essentially a shopping bike on a bridleway, also because I don't think many cyclists explore bridleways around this part of South Wales.

The Vale of Glamorgan Rights Of Way Improvement Plan acknowledges that there are limited opportunities for cycling. It has only 27km of bridleways in its 550 km network of public rights of way and many are still poorly signposted or maintained. Their Local Access Forum represents all types of users of rights of way including the Cyclist Touring Club. In their survey they concur that signposting and maintenance is a problem. I didn't have to go far to find an example. This bridleway on Pen-y-turnpike road isn't signposted and has a locked gate.

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The Public Spending Review is likely to have an adverse effect on the future of public rights of way with maintenance and signposting receiving less funding as local authorities try to balance their books in the face of reduced budgets. I do hope it won't become a case of 'use 'em or lose 'em as there are many ancient ways that have been lost in the past and not all authorities treat them with equal priority.

Keep exploring - on two wheels.

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