The Surrey Hills continue to be one of the top destinations in the Country to Mountain Bike. The quiet valleys, panoramic views and aerobically challenging hills as well as accessibility to London make Surrey a Mecca for cycling in the South East.
Cyclists are having a major impact on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The popularity of mountain biking through the woods and commons of the greensand hills, with new paths being carved out around the existing network of foot and bridle paths, has created some tension with landowners and other leisure users.
To proactively manage the impact and ensure that all user groups are able to enjoy the Surrey Hills without spoiling it for each other, the Surrey Hills AONB Board co-ordinated the creation of a Mountain Bike trail named ‘Summer Lightning’ on Leith Hill.
This trail offers bikers a segregated route on which to enjoy Mountain Biking in the Surrey Hills which reduces conflict with other users and protects the wildlife of the commons. The route has proved very popular, attracting high numbers of cyclists and a very noticeable reduction in the proliferation of wild trails.
The addition of the new section sees the trail extended to an 8.5km loop starting and ending at Leith Hill tower. New signage and way marks have been installed by a National Trust volunteer work party to clearly mark the route.
Dave Mir, Chairman of the Surrey Hills Mountain Bike Working Group comments;
“The Summer Lightning trail has proved so popular since it was initially installed in 2015 and we’ve seen a noticeable reduction in the number of bikers diverting off the route and establishing their own trails. We need to encourage all groups to work together to ensure that we can all enjoy this special area. A huge amount of thanks must go to all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get the new trail up and running.”
Mike Goodman, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning comments;
“The Surrey Hills are the jewel in Surrey’s Countryside, attracting millions of visitors every year. In times of severe constraints on public funding for countryside access It is great to see the partnership working with landowners, local businesses and volunteers to help manage and protect the Surrey Hills”.
For further information on the Mountain Bike Working group visit http://www.surreyhills.org/board/mountain-biking/