More paving on the packhorse road, the National Trust have now completely trashed one of the best bits of this trail, filling in what was an entertaining winding groove with rubble, and laying massive stone flags over the top. The section of path in the foreground here was a bit rough and rutted and was in need of a bit of work, but the stretch in the distance, where you can see all the stone bags, was to my mind a lovely bit of stable singletrack, and it is now gone forever.
This isn’t my biggest gripe with what they’ve done, though. By paving over the preferred line for mountain bikers instead of putting the flags off to one side, they have missed a massive opportunity to reduce conflict between users; indeed, they’ve actually increased the chance of conflict arising. To ride over these flags comfortably and avoid the sensation of having your fillings rattled loose you need to maintain a higher speed than was necessary or desirable before they were laid. Riders are now going to be covering these sections much faster, and the flags demarcate the path as a very definite single-file strip, so they’re going to be flying down the hill straight towards anyone coming up it. Walkers are going to freak out about “out of control” cyclists on these paths, and I can almost see the foam-flecked letters to the local rag already.