Norland Moor cycling ban is no more

It’s been confirmed via our Local Access Forum that cycling (including mountain biking) is now officially permitted on Norland Moor, above Sowerby Bridge. The decision to allow cycling was made at a council meeting on 20 January and is effective immediately.

The ban on cycling on the moor  originally dated back to a bylaw from the 1980s. As an Urban Common, horse riders and walkers have full access to Norland but thanks to our convoluted legal system cycling doesn’t benefit from the same rights. Nevertheless it’s a popular inclusion on many riders’ local routes, and is also a great place for off-road family cycling due to its gentle gradient – something that’s in short supply in this part of the world.

In 2018 Calderdale Council announced a new management plan for the moor which would allow cycling, but only on a “permissive route”. We replied asking why bikes were not being given full access to the moor in the same way as similar moors in Yorkshire like Ilkley and Harden.

Apart from the obvious unfairness of restricting cycling while allowing other user groups full access, it was clear that a permissive route was likely to be unworkable: the moor is unenclosed and cyclists already use most of the tracks on it in different ways, so trying to herd them onto certain parts of it didn’t seem like a good solution for anyone.

What followed was many months of discussion with the council’s Countryside Team, who had concerns over the extra impact of more mountain bikers using the moor, then finally another round of consultation which demonstrated that a large majority of users were supportive of allowing cycling.

There is a new management plan underway for the moor and there will be new signage explaining the changes. There are also volunteer work parties on the moor and we’d recommend getting along to one of these – apart from a chance to help restore some of the moor it’s a great way to learn about it.

Details of how to get involved are on Calderdale Countryside Service’s webpage.

Ride Calderdale’s first off-road cycling survey is here

Although we’ve been engaging with other user groups, landowners and countryside managers for several years now, there’s always been a question of how representative Ride Calderdale is, and whether we’re actually reflecting the views of mountain bikers using the area.

Part of this stemmed from the fact that no-one had carried out a comprehensive piece of work to talk to people who cycle off-road and find out where and how they ride, what concerns they have, what they value about the area, and what they’d do to improve it for cycling.

Earlier in 2022 we got the opportunity to do this as part of an off-road cycling working group hosted by Blackshaw Parish Council. The group is made up of representatives of parish and town councils, rights of way volunteers and other user groups, including us. Together we designed a survey and Ride Calderdale helped promote it.

The survey ran for the first quarter of 2022 and got an incredible response, with over 400 mountain bikers joining in to have their say. We’ve finally got round to analysing all these responses and writing it up, and the finished version is now online.

We’d urge you to read the survey report in full, but safe to say it highlights many of the issues we’ve been campaigning on, from the limitations of the local rights of way network, to the lack of dedicated facilities for mountain biking. And it also sets out some great suggestions for how we can improve things.

Click here to read the report in full (PDF version)