Our track network used to be on the other side of the Esk river but was
closed in 2016 when the trees were harvested. Our current location
is closing in 2 years due to safety concerns with the planned forestry
operations. Pan Pac have given the club rights to return back to the area
the tracks used to be for another 20 years. It will take at least two years
to build a new trail network, a lot of volunteer hours and funds. It therefore
became urgent to find a new location and start building, but we were being
hampered by finding a suitable access point that didn’t upset someone.
The location of the access point will determine where we start building
tracks. Without nailing down the access point we can’t start building –
the clock is ticking.
WHY ESKDALE PARK AS THE GATEWAY?
This is about families. The Park is ideal for family picnics and an area
for people to relax under shade after riding the trails. The river adds even
more to the vibe.
We are also after kid/beginner friendly access to our track network.
We don’t want the kids put off with a hard slog out of the park after they
have already burnt up their energy in the trail network. We want them
to leave the trails buzzing, not whinging.
WHERE EXACTLY DO WE WANT TO CROSS THE RIVER?
Ideally at the end of Yule Rd as this looks to be the easiest place to locate
the bridge. It also has the advantage of being at the underutilised end
of the Park.
WHY HAS THE IDEA GOT THE FRIENDS OF ESKDALE PARK SO FIRED UP?
We aren’t really sure. We needed to discuss our ideas with the Council
first, to see if it was actually possible. They saw the merit and presented
something to the local residents who just saw red immediately. They didn’t
want to engage with the club directly, preferring to go on the offensive
instead. The club hadn’t even got to the stage of making an application
to use the Park, which would have triggered a consultation process anyway.
It has become very clear that the Friends are not interested in working
through their issues and how other users can fit into the park, they just
want the park left as it is.
DO WE WANT TO TAKE OVER THE PARK?
No, the park is huge and half of it is underutilised by the community as it is.
We have calculated that we will need to be able to park 100 cars maximum
at peak times, but generally there will be anywhere between 0 to 35 cars
in the park at any one time.
ARE WE A BUNCH OF TROUBLEMAKERS?
Our membership is a cross section of the community, ¼ of them are under
16 and ride the trails with their parents or school groups. We have caused
no trouble to the community over the last 30 years we have been riding
in Pan Pac’s forests. We also aren’t the only ones who use the trails,
cross country runners and orienteers also use them.
DO WE WANT TO TURN THE PARK INTO A CONCRETE AND ASPHALT HUB?
Definitely not, we love the grass and trees too. Mountain bikers are
attracted to the sport because we are amongst nature. We need to be able
to park our cars somewhere, but we don’t care where, or on what surface.
Our current car park is on shingle and works great, previously we were
on grass and that worked fine too.
DO WE WANT COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES?
No, a coffee cart would be nice though and other parks have mechanics
operating from the car park on weekends, usually out of a shipping
container, but we have survived this long without these things
so it’s not a big deal if they don’t happen.