TRF:Hi Steve. You’re trying to raise £10k to fix The Old Coach Road. That’s quite some money! Maybe we could start with a bit of background. Where is The Coach Road and what’s its history?
Steve:The ‘Old Coach Road’ is approximately 8 km of unsealed county road in the parishes of St. John Castlerigg & Wythburn, Threlkeld, and Matterdale, Cumbria. It crosses the boundary of Allerdale (U2236) and Eden (U3132) Districts of Cumbria County. The road passes through an Environmentally Sensitive Area and for a short distance crosses a Site of Special Scientific Interest and reaches a maximum altitude of 437 metres (1436 ft). Its history predates the Romans. It has been used for moving both stock, mining materials and people for hundreds of years. As a green road, In the early 1900’s it formed part of a loop of Lakeland roads which drivers from all over the country used to travel north. It's long been know as a classic route through the Lakes.
TRF:It was damaged during Storm Desmond, is that right?
TRF:So it’s been a couple of years now and presumably the damage hasn’t fixed itself. Why isn’t Cumbria Council fixing it?
Steve:Cumbria is still repairing damage from Storm Desmond and the subsequent storms, there are still bridges closed, roads and buildings closed off and although things are being done, the Green Road network is not high on the priority list.
TRF:How did you end up approaching the council to undertake these works. It can be a bit difficult with permissions can’t it?
Steve:Nigel Summers and myself were talking about permissions for repairs to UCR’s and decided to make an effort to get the permissions needed. We identified and met with our local Highways Network Manager, had a pretty frank discussion and she agreed that we could have the permissions but warned she had no other resources to offer us. Apparently this was a coup, but for us, it was a door opening to a chance to repair lanes, which in turn helps to keep them open and builds relations with the authorities around the county.
TRF:What needs done?
Steve:With an estimated 15 years of no maintenance at all coupled with the damage from all the storms and water run off, there is a lot to do. We’ve split the work into two phases,
TRF:Work has already started hasn’t it?
Steve:Yes, we did a couple of multi user group volunteer days, clearing gullies with hand tools and opening surface drainage back up. This allowed us to test theories and learn more about the processes involved in repairing a mountain road, it’s certainly made me appreciate both the work and the effort that used to go into keeping these roads open and serviceable. When I ride now, I look at the lanes differently as I now know what to look for in terms of preventative maintenance stuff. What has been great is to see mixed groups of users come together to get involved in this project. We’ve had paragliders, 4x4 enthusiasts, trail bikers, even a walker or two!
TRF:So, why should trail riders contribute money to this repair work, especially if they live in other parts of the country?
TRF:Thanks Steve. We really hope you hit your target!