Mountain bikers swapped saddles for shovels last weekend as Red Kite Trails Wetherby cleared 10 tonnes of mud from a popular bridleway belonging to the Wood Hall Hotel.
It was the first clean-up for the newly established volunteer organisation who are looking to waymark, map and maintain the trails around Wetherby, Leeds and Harrogate with a 27 mile route, called the Red Kite Trail.
Richard Plummer and David Lund both from Wetherby established the group last August.
“It’s been a brilliant start,” said Richard. “Ten adults and three kids helped us fill 200 wheelbarrows of earth, clearing a 100-metre stretch in under five hours and now you can see the limestone again.”
The Red Kites are part of Singletraction, an organisation that builds trails by combining voluntary hard work - lots of digging and lifting - with good diplomacy when dealing with landowners.
They are behind some of the best mountain bike routes in Yorkshire, including at Dalby Forest and Stainburn.
“We have excellent trails on our doorstep,” said Richard.
“We’re all about doing things in the right way to maintain them and engaging with the landowner, such as this weekend.
“We had great support from Wood Hall, the trail-owners and North Yorks County Council who preserve the rights of way.
“Within a few minutes the gullies were cleared and the water and mud was draining away. So building on the success of digs like this, we want to mark out the Red Kite Trail properly, with signs and a proper map for users and all that will need fundraising.”
And the group has also had a big boost with plans to complement their routes with a skills circuit to practice on in Wetherby.
The town council is looking to take on land by the Harland Way, behind St Josephs’ RC School, to provide an important community resource.
“The area is overgrown but the generous size and some natural features, mean it has great potential,” added Richard.
The Red Kites will be out again soon promoting their cause with a litter pick on the site of the intended skills track. You can follow them on Facebook - Red Kite Trails Wetherby and Twitter @Redkitetrails
Similar mountain bike routes have been established such as at Sutton Bank National Park Centre, where the waymarked rights of way loops have been a great success and associated skills areas have proved a hit with young and old.
More than two million people across the country now cycle at least once a week, an all-time high according to British Cycling, the sport’s governing body in the UK.