As with everyone else Covid put life on hold for Ride Kirklees. It put a stop to our dig days, Trash Free Trails (#tft) clean-ups, social rides and such. That said lockdown gave us time to work on various proposals and we figured now’s a good time to start spreading the good news. Ride Kirklees have been asked to get involved with trail developments in:
- Oakwell Hall
- Dewsbury Country Park – Dewsbury Bike Park
- Caulms Wood
- Park Mills Colliery, Clayton West
- Fixby Woods
As you’ll soon gather, the developments range from small to huge so some parts will come to fruition sooner than others. There are all sorts of decisions to be finalised regarding funding, permissions from other landowners, fully signed off plans etc however Kirklees Council have been very positive so it’s going to be an exciting few years for mtb in Kirklees.
1. Oakwell Hall
This is a simple one, the trail’s already in place and fantastically well used, it’s more a request for help. We currently don’t have a representative that lives locally and rides it regularly. If it’s your local trail and you fancy getting involved to keep it sweet, we need a volunteer to organise TFT clean-ups (maximum two a year); getting to know the rangers so problems can be reported; keeping an eye on the state of the trail; help out the organising team for another open day. It’s not an onerous task, and there’s several of us that can help out until you know what’s what. If you’re interested please get in touch. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All the following trail developments are in various stages of discussion with Kirklees Council. The discussions were underpinned by our “Drivetrain Bike Hub Proposal” document, regarding creating off-road cycling facilities in Kirklees. If these are your local rides, keep an eye out on the Facebook page to get involved.
2. Dewsbury Country Park – Dewsbury Bike Park?
After attending the Oakwell Hall Opening Day, the ranger of Dewsbury Country Park contacted Ride Kirklees with the idea of something similar in DCP. The long-term plan for Dewsbury Country Park is to develop a bike hub and trail centre. The park has the space to build a network of safe trails for people of all abilities. This proposal includes family orientated green routes, beginner blue routes and more advanced red routes (with black options) as well as a pump track and jump line. If you’ve never ridden a trail centre before, they use colours to grade routes by difficulty so that everyone knows what to expect. Having a mixture of graded trails would mean that the park would cater for all riders and allow progression for people to develop their off-road cycling skills. Providing dedicated walking/multipurpose routes near the bike tracks would also encourage more visitors to the park and also help to reduce any user conflicts that may arise.
At present Dewsbury Country park has issues around anti-social behaviour – fly tipping, drug use and unauthorized use of motor bikes. With the development of a bike hub and on-site facilities (e.g. bike hire, café, information centre) the increase in visitor numbers is hoped to reduce the anti-social issues, much like Leeds Urban Bike Park has done in Middleton
The aim is to develop the site in stages, so the council can gauge the popularity before the next stage of development.
The 1st stage will be to create a pump track that caters for all abilities – from kids wanting to learn, to experience riders looking to progress and jump. If the pump track is successful, we should then be able to move on to developing the red and green/blue trails.
Dewsbury Bike Park plan
3. Caulms Wood
Caulms Wood needs a significant amount of management and has seen the development of a volunteer group to take on the challenge of restoring the woodland into a more welcoming and secure place to find an escape from day to day life. The woodland is used by dog walkers and is also part of the Kirklees Way.
The woodland is already used by cyclists with several unofficial trails and a bridleway that cuts through the centre of the site. The Friends Of Caulms Wood invited Ride Kirklees to assess the feasibility of introducing official bike trails into the woods with the intention of creating a recreational venue close to the centre of Dewsbury. Ride Kirklees have since then held a meeting on site with local riders and the chairman of Singletraction – a volunteer trail building group who are responsible for developing and building bike trails including the Devils Toenail in Wetherby.
With the elevation of the site and the features that have been left from past quarrying, the site would make a challenging red graded route, with black graded options. By developing an official trail in the woods, we would be able to encourage off road cyclists to stay away from the Kirklees Way footpath that is currently being resurfaced. It would also help to reduce conflict between user groups, for example dog walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
Below is the phase one suggested route that was planned during a site visit by Ride Kirklees.
The above route would start and finish at the Cliffe street carpark, which would allow for people to drive to the venue and ride from a fixed point. However, with the Dewsbury local plan, this car park may be subject to housing development, in which case an alternative would be sought. The route was planned so as not to interfere with existing official rights of way, however there are a number of desire lines that have been created over the years by walkers and cyclists. Where possible, the cycle route would avoid these desire lines and create a new trail. We’ve suggested some of the desire lines become official walking routes to further reduce any conflict between user groups.
There have been discussions relating to how much space could be used to build this facility. From discussions with local riders there is a large amount of green space North of Caulms Wood, locally known as Nursery woods, with access from High Street in Hanging Heaton. If possible, it would be ideal if the proposed trail could utilize this space further by extending the trail.
Longer term there is a potential second phase, developing a trail that utilises the space between Caulms wood and Hanging Heaton (Nursery woods). This would mean that access to the trail can be from several different access points, enabling more use of the facility. At the moment this is just a possibility as amongst other things it requires permissions from a different landowner.
The above map shows phase one highlighted in red and the possible phase 2 highlighted in blue. There would still be a need for official access from the Hanging Heaton side using the existing paths.
After the Friends of Caulms wood carried out some scrub clearance recently, an area was identified to create a kids track. This will probably be a fairly simple pump track with rollers and table tops, and will be pretty small in order to enable kids to learn to ride. The designs have been submitted and a consultation is in progress to choose the design we will build.
4. Park Mill Colliery, Clayton West
Park Mill bike track was first launched in 2009 but has since fallen into disrepair for a number of reasons. A group of residents spoke to Councilors Graham Turner and Will Simpson in 2019 about youth provision in the area. It was suggested that the bike track could be revamped to create a facility for off road cycling.
The Park Mill Bike Track group met with a trail building company but the cost of a commercially built trail is prohibitive so are looking to create a volunteer-built track. Work has begun with the clearing of the original track, and we are hoping that this winter will offer the opportunity to start the resurfacing and shaping of the track.
When the original track is made fit for purpose, there are plans to develop a short red route around the site. This will complement the existing dirt jumps and the redeveloped track.
This project came about because in recent months, local trail builders built unsanctioned timber ramps into the dirt jump line, which although are well constructed, could create issues due to the extreme nature of the ramps. Ride Kirklees was approached by Kirklees Council to assist on developing the site which will help to create a network of off-road cycling facilities in the area.
5. Fixby Woods
Hopefully everyone’s aware of this already from the discussions on the RK Facebook page. There’s been a lot of good discussion with the Council to resolve the complaints about riding/digging in Fixby Woods. The main take away is they are positive about the future of mtb in Fixby on the back of our proposal however that means there’s a load of remedial work required. As most riders won’t be aware there’s a problem, we’ve been allowed to put signs up around the woods to help increase awareness and get more riders on board with the solution. First dig day is 10am Sunday 13th Sept, look out for more on the RK Facebook page. That’s just the briefest summary, the full detail is on our website: