You may be aware there is currently a bit of a thing ongoing with Lyme Park, a disaster which many hope can be averted. In the meantime, here’s two positive new moves from the National Trust property.
I’ve always loved this parkland near Disley, perhaps begun by that memorable school trip orienteering in a big thunderstorm. Now barely a week goes by that I don’t walk or cycle there.
More recently, it’s also been welcome to see the National Trust start to tell a fuller history of its places (and sad to see these initiatives attacked by some). Likewise, I always strive to give credit where it’s due, so here’s the good news…
New gateway signage – including “cycling permitted”
For too long Lyme has only ever been sticking up very unfriendly “No Cycling” signs of the angry red circle variety, pinning people on bikes as a purely damaging presence to everyone else. Meanwhile, there were never any positive reinforcements to say you were allowed on a certain path.
Well, only a whole four years since I suggested this very thing to them — look what’s appeared.
Little signs have been installed on each side of every single gateway, making clear at last where cycling is permitted on the path ahead and where it’s not.
The new waymarker signs also include “Dogs on leads” and “Keep to paths” for those on foot. Nice, simple, friendly!
This is a really positive move, both for newcomers and regular visitors. Maybe I’m paranoid, but more than once I’ve received a kind of “should you be cycling here” glare as I’ve gently pedalled up West Park Drive through Hase Bank Woods. Now at last it’s made clear bikes are allowed to be there too, thank you very much.
Lyme clearly still have the “problem” of people riding off-piste, but I hope it’s learning these visitors will never take heed of angry signs, more likely see them as a challenge. Or maybe they just don’t realise? It would still be beneficial to have maps at each entrance gate, clearly showing the routes open to cycling.
Of course, rather than see this as a problem, and suppress entirely the demand for more riding, the park should be more urgently looking at which paths could be opened up full-time to cycling with minimal work and without major impact. Provide a legitimate and family-friendly off-road cycle loop around the back of the hall; it’ll reinforce positive behaviours and simply attract more of the right kind of cycling person to the park.
Expanded preloved book shop in the Salting Room
Another thing Lyme (and the National Trust in general) urgently needs to do is diversify its property income streams, beyond just getting ever more people to drive there in cars. So it’s great to see a little step taken in this, and in opening up more of the historic property itself, with an expanded second hand bookshop space.
The Salting Room makes a dramatic setting with its vaulted brick ceiling and the expanded selection — including CDs and DVDs — is varied, well organised and in great condition. There are even some nice old local reference titles.
To find the bookshop, turn left entering the Hall, follow the corridor to the right then left, past the Ale Cellar cafe. The nearest cycle parking stands aren’t that convenient, down in the main car park behind the kiosk, but I’d definitely recommend stopping off and perusing on your next Lyme Loop.
One extra final thing — National Trust have been advertising nationally for a “Cyclists Welcome” Project Manager.
“This project will deliver a national ‘Cyclists Welcome’ approach to systematically improve our cycle offer and provide a minimum-standard for cycling everywhere. This will include developing: the pre-visit information; a ‘bike-friendly’ rating system; the NT Cyclist Welcome Standards; allocation of project support and central funding to all properties to deliver improvements (to reach minimum Cyclist Welcome standards) and to develop the guidance and case studies that support more places develop our offer to cyclists.”Job Listing
This sounds like the step-change the Trust needs in welcoming cycling to its sites — especially positive that it should deliver a “minimum standard” everywhere. Currently, some National Trust places cater for cycling pretty well, with new off-road paths for example, but others definitely see it as an afterthought or don’t see the opportunities at all.
Recording all this current provision has been the task of Huw Davies, who just completed an astonishing cycling tour of every single National Trust property. His tweets under #NTByBike are well worth browsing and the knowledge should be fed back into the Cyclists Welcome project. (I found it funny that, rather than the A6 or Red Lane, Huw used the quite narrow and bumpy East gate route into Lyme — well-used by locals on bikes but actually only recorded as a “footpath” outside the gates.)
The downside is, if they’re only advertising the job now, how long before these things come into practice nationally? And what if certain properties severely harm their potential “bike-friendly” ratings in the meantime, say by building giant car parks across their most important cross-park cycling route…?
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