Chapel Gate closed to motorised vehicles for 18 months to give respite from erosion problems.
The Peak District National Park Authority has banned motorised recreational vehicles from a popular track near Edale for 18-months as what it says is 'a last resort to halt further severe environmental damage' to the track.
The 3km lane in question, Chapel Gate, drops down from near Rushup Edge – the ridge opposite Edale – onto the road between Edale and Mam Nick and is classified as a Byway Open To All Traffic.
However severe damage, with deep ruts and water is causing walkers, cyclists and horse riders to deviate from the route spreading erosion outwards into a sensitive environmental area, which is a designated SSIS.
As a result and despite opposition from groups representing 4x4 drivers and trail riders, the authority took the decision to close the route to give it some respite from motorised use, with the 18-month closure taking effect after the completion of work on the trail now being undertaken.
It's the first time the Peak Park Authority has used an experimental Traffic Regulation Order in this way and given the state of several other tracks in the area, it's not unreasonable to assume that it won't be the last either.
The vulnerable steep section of Chapel Gate has already been restored with mixed reactions from users. Over the past ten years or so, the surface had deteriorated from a concrete track, into an eroded rocky trech, thanks to a combination of water damage and erosion from use both by 4x4s and walker and bikers.
The erosion had gone down to the bedrock underpinning the track in places with the result being that walker and bikers were then using the grassy bank to the side and causing further erosion.
That said, the repairs so far seem to consist of a simple infill over the exposed rock and without armouring it's hard to see how it's going to survive the Peak District weather, even without use by motorised vehicles.
It'll be interesting to see how long it lasts and whether the vehicle ban is extended to protect the track in 18 months time. Sadly the current work – you can see some images at www.monkeyspoon.com – seems to have markedly changed the character of the track for now.
In a wider context, the Peak Park Authority is just one of the National Parks working to reduce damage caused by recreational vehicles with the Lakes and Dales also introducing bans on 4x4s on certain trails.