You’ve heard the expression ‘wild camping’? It’s the term applied to off piste camping away from formal camping areas. Well today I’ve been doing a bit of wild riding; exploring remote tracks which are not public rights of way. Under normal circumstances this would of course be illegal but today I had the great privilege of being shown around some very remote corners of Shropshire by my good mate Mickey, a keen trail rider and arch off-road enthusiast. Through family and business contacts Mickey is very closely connected to the local farming community and enjoys , metaphorically speaking, an access all areas, back stage pass to some of the most beautiful riding country in the region. Mickey very generously offered to show me around his manor and take me on a days trail riding most of us can only dream about.
Access all areas, Mickey fires his Beta Alp up the bank of a disused quarry.
Today we’ve ridden gnarly singletrack, explored ancient lanes long closed to motorised traffic, meandered through dense woodland, descended into deserted quarries, blasted across vast fields of stubble and picked our way along rock strewn trails wending our way through parts of the Shropshire landscape fundamentally untouched since the Iron Age. We’ve cruised along disused railway tracks , burbled quietly through peaceful farmyards and not seen a single soul or another rider the whole day. However, we did drop in for a brew on more than one occasion with various members of Mickey’s extended family and enjoyed a chinwag. All in all it was a grand day out exploring terrain which is off limits except by special invitation. To cap it all the sun shone all day and we had perfect weather for our jolly. Wild riding indeed and if there’s a more enjoyable way to spend a day on a motorcycle I’ve yet to experience it.
Deserted unused lane, once a RUPP [Road Used as a Public Path] but sadly no longer [see below].
The elation of riding these deserted roads and paths was also tinged with a sense of loss mixed in with a little bit of anger. You see a number of the routes we traveled were once perfectly legitimate vehicular rights of ways , enjoyed by motorcyclists and motorists since the advent of motorised traffic without the need for permission of the landowner. In 2006 these rights were swept away in the stroke of a bureaucrats pen when the NERC law [Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act] was passed amid much controversy and accusations of dodgy parliamentary dealing. It’s a long story and too complicated to be dealt with here…
Overnight off-road enthusiasts lost the right to use these lanes and the face of green laning in the UK was changed forever. Never has much been lost for so many by the selfish actions of so few.
Today made me appreciate how important it is to support bodies such as LARA [Land Access and Recreation Association] and of course the Trail Riders Fellowship, [www.trf.org.uk] two key players in the fight to retain legal vehicular access to these ancient roads. It’s absolutely imperative that we keep what little we’ve got left and also , where practical, fight to re-instate lanes which have been unlawfully closed. If you’ve been thinking about joining the TRF then don’t delay, the organisation needs your support to fight the good fight and ensure we off road enthusiasts don’t suffer the injustice of yet another NERC debacle.
Many thanks to Mickey for an outstanding days riding. Here’s to the next time!
Mickey fording a stream . Thankfully this particular lane is still a legal route and able to be enjoyed by anyone with a suitable vehicle