Surrey* hates mountain bikers too: horse riders object to new trail at Leith Hill

*Well, some people in Surrey

by John Stevenson   March 18, 2014  

Leith Hill (CC licensed image by frankdoylezw:Flickr)

 

They don't just dislike road cycling in Surrey. Objections to people having fun on bikes have kept a new mountain bike trail closed at Leith Hill while Surrey County Council waits for a formal complaint from local equestrians.

The British Horse Society said the track, which has been built on National Trust land, is too close to existing bridleways and the potential combination of horses and cyclists could be fatal.

Bob Milton, from the society, told the BBC that the path was illegal and that the authority had not carried out adequate consultation.

He said: “It has been constructed, it impedes access and it is on a common.”

He said there was clear guidance from the planning inspectorate that had not been followed.

Penny Tyson-Davies, BHS bridleways officer for Mole Valley, told Martha Terry of Horse and Hound that there had been no input rom equestrians into the building of the mountain bike trail.

“If they had consulted the BHS, they would have been told that a fast off-road cycle track alongside and crossing bridleways is out of order. Mountain bikes whizzing in and out of trees, jumping ramps above horses’ heads, around an established sunken horse track, is an accident waiting to happen.”

In a statement, Surrey County Council said it was waiting for Mr Milton to confirm whether he wanted it to investigate his complaint.

It added: “Should he decide to take the matter to the planning inspectorate we will co-operate fully with any inquiry.

“In the meantime we have made a request to the landowners for the trail to remain closed for the duration of any investigation.”

Julie Rand, from the national cycling charity CTC, said: “There are bridleways and tracks all over Surrey that are quite happily co-existing at the moment without too much anguish and they respect each other.

“People are anticipating problems that may not actually arise.”

Sam Bayley, National Trust head ranger, told Horse and Hound that dedicated tracks for mountain bikers will improve safety, because cyclists have been “creating unauthorised trails at Leith Hill following and crossing many bridleways”.

“We aim to balance the needs of everyone,” he said. “The design will ensure cyclists naturally slow down at crossing points by appropriate turns and signage.”

Rob Fairbanks, of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Board said: “It is not feasible to ban biking in one of the most popular areas in England. We want to work with the BHS to educate cyclists about the priority that needs to be given to horse riders, so we can all share the Surrey Hills.”

45 user comments

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dafyddp wrote:
Sounds like it would be very frustrating if someone organised a mass 'slow ride' along the bridleway one Sunday morning... Wink

You could probably do that for weeks and never see a horse.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [246 posts]
18th March 2014 - 16:58

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Did you know that the horse is the most unfortunately animal in the world?
It's the only one that occasionally has two aresholes!

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [290 posts]
18th March 2014 - 16:58

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jmaccelari wrote:
I am very deferential around all animals - horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever... We have to assume that we are more intelligent than them and it is up to us to ensure there is no collision.

Big call, that. Big Grin

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posted by nowasps [246 posts]
18th March 2014 - 17:00

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Some Surrey Hills mtb-ers are the living embodiment of "nobbers". Some Surrey Hills equestrians are the living embodiment of "nobbers".

Most people from each group, and I know a couple of folk with a foot in both camps, are perfectly lovely, perfectly reasonable people.

One can only conclude that some people are "nobbers" regardless of their hobbies and will always seek to disadvantage others in order to protect their own interests.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [378 posts]
18th March 2014 - 17:41

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Notsofast wrote:
surly_by_name wrote:

We cyclists are unlikely to get startled pull a wheelie and smash our front wheel through their windscreens, so they're not scared of us. (we're likely to call them names and 'wave at them' then back down rather sharpish when confronted...)

don't back down

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Winston Churchill

Or as my old dad a Para Sgt used to say. "Never start a fight you can't finish."

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [573 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:03

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I quite like horses... they are delicious.

posted by MrGear [85 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:39

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Crumbs. When I used to inhabit and pedal in that part of the world there were no issues with road cycling, trundling up Box Hill, MTBing or horses that I encountered - although I did steer clear of Leith Hill on a weekend unless I needed cake from the tower cafe. Better riding to be had on Pitch Hill and Holmbury anyway.

But Surrey now sounds like the embodiment of overpopulated, over-entitled NIMBYist HELL. Good luck to you all.

EDIT: just looked at map of the area again and came over all nostalgic...

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posted by joemmo [796 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:47

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Its happened more than once on a club run, a car pulling a horse box with a driver spouting abuse about being held up, "%*?! bloody cyclists!" Beggars belief!

posted by lolol [117 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:51

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Quote:
Mountain bikes whizzing in and out of trees, jumping ramps above horses’ heads, around an established sunken horse track, is an accident waiting to happen.

I think I must be doing it wrong then... Worried

KalaBlinds 'cos we all need our beauty sleep.

posted by don simon [144 posts]
18th March 2014 - 19:37

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lolol wrote:
Its happened more than once on a club run, a car pulling a horse box with a driver spouting abuse about being held up, "%*?! bloody cyclists!" Beggars belief!

Are horse box "drivers" the new audi...

posted by northstar [1100 posts]
18th March 2014 - 19:50

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Maybe one solution might be a voluntary agreement, through which opposing interests restrict their activities to alternate weekends.

Nothing enforcible, of course, but any "understanding" could dramatically reduce the current conflict in popular areas.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
18th March 2014 - 20:03

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If you speak to the more sensible horse riders, you'll get familiar tales of close passes, being honked at, yells to do with "road tax" etc. They do have issues with cyclists- after all, we do approach from behind almost silently- but generally the main issues they have on the road are the same that we have.

Obviously the horsey types kicking up a stink here are arses, but they're not all bad!

posted by Al__S [525 posts]
18th March 2014 - 20:08

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Road CC trying to sensationalise a story of 'hate' between road user groups again? Well done.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
18th March 2014 - 23:34

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It's been a few years since I rode around Leith Hill so perhaps things have changed, but I can't imagine why anyone would complain about mountain bikes when there were motorcross bikers inventing routes.

posted by bikebot [498 posts]
19th March 2014 - 1:15

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700c wrote:
Road CC trying to sensationalise a story of 'hate' between road user groups again? Well done.

And ably fuelled by many of the posts above.

As a car driving, 4 x 4 owning, horse trailer pulling, motorcycling, horse riding, cyclist, it is great to know that there is no 'them and us' attitude between road users, and that it is just a storm being whipped up by the press.

posted by Grubbythumb [37 posts]
19th March 2014 - 8:15

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dafyddp wrote:
Sounds like it would be very frustrating if someone organised a mass 'slow ride' along the bridleway one Sunday morning... Wink

Actually going slower than the horses round my way would be a virtual impossibility. Some people seem to consider a horse ride is a good way to have a nice walk in the countryside without actually having to use one's own legs.

posted by JeevesBath [119 posts]
19th March 2014 - 9:07

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If horse riders are so concerned about sharing space with cyclists, how come so many of them deliberately use a certain section of the Bristol to Bath cycle path by Emersons Green that actually has a sign at the entrance saying "No horseriding"? The evidence is in small brown piles all over the tarmac surface.... Angry

posted by JeevesBath [119 posts]
19th March 2014 - 9:10

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JeevesBath wrote:
If horse riders are so concerned about sharing space with cyclists, how come so many of them deliberately use a certain section of the Bristol to Bath cycle path by Emersons Green that actually has a sign at the entrance saying "No horseriding"? The evidence is in small brown piles all over the tarmac surface.... Angry

First thing that came into my mind when I read this story. Not too bad in the summer when you can see the piles although, according to environmental health, manure isn't a hazard (unlike dog poo).
As mentioned earlier there are 'nobbers' in every group, but I do wonder why you get glared at by horseriders (on road and off road) and you haven't done anything wrong. Probably the same ones that try and mow you down with a horsebox. If there's one way to make a bridleway 'un-cycleable', send a load of horses down it.

Shades

posted by Shades [197 posts]
19th March 2014 - 10:53

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Grubbythumb wrote:
700c wrote:
Road CC trying to sensationalise a story of 'hate' between road user groups again? Well done.

And ably fuelled by many of the posts above.

As a car driving, 4 x 4 owning, horse trailer pulling, motorcycling, horse riding, cyclist, it is great to know that there is no 'them and us' attitude between road users, and that it is just a storm being whipped up by the press.


serious question...

do you do all those things in the surrey hills?

and I mean the surrey hills aonb in surrey england not surry hills sydney or somewhere else with a superabundance of motherhood and apple pie.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [378 posts]
19th March 2014 - 11:26

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Al__S wrote:
(horse riders) do have issues with cyclists- after all, we do approach from behind almost silently

I'm guessing you know, but don't do that. Say hello, so the horse knows you're there, from far enough away that you won't startle it.

For more (fairly obvious) stuff on how to behave around horses... http://www.bhs.org.uk/~/media/BHS/Files/PDF%20Documents/Safety%20leaflet...

posted by bazzargh [144 posts]
19th March 2014 - 12:22

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Horse riding involves a dumb prey animal......and a horse

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [291 posts]
19th March 2014 - 13:32

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We get horses on the chase and there is never a problem. This is because horses are mental skittish things that are dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle and we know better than to spook them. Give them space, make your self heard politely when approaching them, if it all looks dodgy and is if the horse is unhappy then simply don't go near it. Anyone doing otherwise is angling to get them self removed from the gene pool, which would be doing the species a favour IMHO.

posted by MKultra [212 posts]
19th March 2014 - 13:43

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If you can afford a horse you can afford a field to put it in, and leave it there. Smile

posted by duc888 [33 posts]
19th March 2014 - 14:01

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workhard wrote:

serious question...

do you do all those things in the surrey hills?

and I mean the surrey hills aonb in surrey england not surry hills sydney or somewhere else with a superabundance of motherhood and apple pie.

I don't do any of those things in Surrey. In fact, I'm not certain I have ever visited the county.

Why do you ask? As I am pretty sure the bigotry and misinformed Clarksonesque comments made towards horse riders throughout this thread are not confined to only those who live or ride in Surrey.

posted by Grubbythumb [37 posts]
19th March 2014 - 14:09

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Notsofast wrote:
We cyclists are unlikely to get startled pull a wheelie and smash our front wheel through their windscreens, so they're not scared of us. (we're likely to call them names and 'wave at them' then back down rather sharpish when confronted...)

Maybe we should start doing this, it might engender slightly more space and respect...

I too thought bikes could use bridleways, unless there is a local by-law preventing this.

I fail to understand though how a track could "impede access" unless it is some kind of force field that only prevents those on two wheels breaching it.

posted by Wolfshade [101 posts]
19th March 2014 - 17:41

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lolol wrote:
Its happened more than once on a club run, a car pulling a horse box with a driver spouting abuse about being held up, "%*?! bloody cyclists!" Beggars belief!

The same person will ride along and expect absolute consideration from all road users including cyclist. I was riding on a single width road in Lancashire then two horse rider came up towards me two a breast the road, they had no intention of moving si I was forced on to the mud verge. Really felt very tempted to shock the horse but had I and it would have been an evil cyclist story.

What I really don't get is that drivers seem very happy to slow down for horse riders but won't offer the same consideration to cyclists? I really don't know why?

HMCC

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posted by Beefy [113 posts]
19th March 2014 - 19:33

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I've said it before and I'll say it again;

Cyclists get more respect on the continent. They also eat horses over there. So I'd recommend all cyclists carry one of these at all times:
http://www.russums-shop.co.uk/images/products/zoom/1361802984-44480800.jpg

The other upside to doing this, other than taking away the shite hobby of wannabe gentry, inbred toffs and weak parents is that snacking on horses mid-ride will reduce the number of gel wrappers being dropped.

posted by farrell [1404 posts]
20th March 2014 - 11:14

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This is all rather bizarre. MTBers are just as legally entitled to use public bridleways as horse riders. So what's the problem with an MTB trail running near a bridleway?

One things that's baffled me for ages: Horses can be trained to charge into battle with bullets whizzing past them. Why aren't horses properly trained to deal with the "scary" things they will encounter on roads and bridleways? That said, I know they usually aren't, so I give them a lot of room and slow right down. Riders seem to be in two camps - those that appreciate your consideration, and those that still look down their nose at you like they are appalled that you even exist!

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posted by DaveE128 [60 posts]
20th March 2014 - 16:56

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Cyclists probably need a bit of information about the proper way to ride around horses. My wife is a bit of a equine psychologist so I have been made aware of their dislike of cyclists. I regularly see group rides pass horses without giving warning and space and the horse starts as a result.

My daughter competes and I ride out to her events. I even walk the bike in to the farm so as not to spook the competitors...the horses with my bike and the riders with my lycra Wink

posted by massspike [32 posts]
20th March 2014 - 17:17

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The world would be a better place if people just chill out, realise that life shouldn't be taken so seriously and learn to share with each other. If people stay courteous and friendly then there should never be a problem.

posted by Strangertothelight [6 posts]
26th March 2014 - 0:21

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