An unfortunate encounter reminds me how precious are our Downs

We are lucky here in Worthing. We have miles and miles of bridleways, footpaths and access land. This is a precious resource. We must respect it. I have spent time and resource trying to make sure that it stays precious and that we can all continue to enjoy it.

I rode this morning and this afternoon I was walking on Cissbury Ring. A rider came down the main rampart and passed us. I said exactly the same thing that the landowner of the Sheep Track said to me, “You know you are not really allowed to ride here”. The mountain biker, in flouro orange, didn’t like that and passed negative comment. It is a real shame that he did want to discuss the issue. I guess that he is new to riding and in Britain all cyclists feel persecuted but if he had stopped he would have let me explain.

Cissbury Ring is nearly 3,000 years old, It is the best preserved and largest Iron Age fort in Britain and is owned by the National Trust. The NT has been kind enough to let us ride through it, there is no public right of way. The route is an arc from the South Gate to the East Gate passing South of and also by the triangulation station. The Ring has a real erosion problem due to its popularity.

I’ve riding round here for 25 years and work with various access bodies including the South Downs National Park Authority representing mountain bikers. I want us to be able to enjoy this beautiful and free natural resource for ever. However, the times they are a changing and our Downs are heavily used now. Many new users don’t seem to be aware of the country code and our Rights of Way systems. The land around Cissbury Ring is criss-crossed with unofficial trails, cut down fences and pile upon pile of canine faeces. The last thing that I want is for mountain bikes to be lumped in with and considered as selfish as the doggie brigade. There are considerate dog walkers but because the problem is so great all are considered at fault. So whilst matey riding round the Ring doesn’t warrant too much excitement it is a bit like riding down the golf course, just too damned obvious and the last thing that I want is for all mountain bikers to be tarred with the same brush.

I’ll contact the NT to ensure that there is improved signage. Enjoy your rides and walks!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jes says:

    Hi JP
    Ha ha…’The Run Out’ why did we call it that? I seem to remember you legging it ‘sans bike’ though stinging nettles?
    And of course there is the ‘ Blue Run’ named after our good chum WC as he likes to be known.
    I guess I spend too much time on my road bike these days but will be out on the MTB this weekend

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