The recent heavy rain, followed by a trip along the Cinder Track by bike, resulted in us sending the following email on 8th Aug 2023 asking NYC to divulge their maintenance plan for this track.
- Complete lack of vegetation management between Larpool and Hawsker, resulting in the usable track being just a bike width, which negates the £300k spent on the surface. This happens every year.
- South side of A171 at Hawsker going up the hill towards Bottoms Lane the surface has been completely washed out, now with gouges, exposed rocks and ruts to a depth of a foot in places. The section is narrow as it is but when there is little usable surface it is simply dangerous.
- Where the track starts to descend in to Robin Hoods Bay, the surface has also been badly washed out in many places, very hard to navigate the track now, badly rutted over a long distance.
- The section at Brow Side (RHBay to Ravenscar) is an utter quarry, with significant amounts of gravel having been washed out of the surface.
- On the final ascent to Ravenscar, there is tape across the track where the steep bank kicks up and a large area of track has collapsed with electrical cabling revealed. No signage has been provided on the track before / after this, so what people are expected to do here is unknown.
We have had a reply from NYC stating “the Countryside Access Service department looks after public rights of way, yet the CinderTrack is not a public right of way […] and transitional arrangements resulting from the Local Government reorganisation have yet to determine which team will look after the route in the long term“.
So we await the return from holiday of the Assistant Director of “Integrated Passenger Transport, Fleet, Licensing, Harbours and Countryside Access” to hopefully shed some light on the situation.
We followed up our original email, with this email on 29th Aug 2023
- Thanks to NYC Parks department for finally cutting vegetation between Larpool and Hawsker; track width is better now, not that some of the “new” surface doesn’t have vegetation growing through it after just 2 yrs from laying. We do hope that this will be part of regular maintenance because it had been overgrown since June, and to achieve NYC stated carbon targets with modal shift and 900% increase in cycling such encroachment into the path will only deter cycling uptake not increase it.
- We have had multiple reports of people falling off their bikes on the sections reported, as well as reports of people turning back due to the standard of the surface in places, particularly around Hawsker (a photo is attached of one part of washed out surface). There is one sign at the main road at Hawsker (attached photo), but it had fallen off and also simply says go slow, when in reality going slow on a bike through deep gravel will not alleviate the danger (going slow over the subsequent ruts would make sense). No idea if there are equivalent signs at the other areas with washed out surface, since we don’t consider it rideable to go and check.
- Regarding the problem at Stoupe Brow, it was barriered off with online diversion info provided within a couple of hours of my original email. Since then we understand that Northern Powergrid have given a safety go-ahead for works to be performed, but that nothing has actually happened to fix the collapse, and there are worrying reports of some people ignoring the barriers.
- We find it concerning that 5 months on from becoming a unitary authority, NYC still have not decided which department will preside over this facility long term.
On 1st September 2023 we had a reply from NYC Assistant Director for Countryside Access, as follows
Thank you for your email regarding the Cinder Track and the specific issues you raise with regards to the track surface between Hawsker and Ravenscar.
Firstly, with regards to the poor surface, this is an issue on a number of rural sections of the track. As you’ll be aware, we have been very successful in securing external funding for track improvements over recent years, including improvements to the Whitby – Hawsker and Scarborough – Scalby sections, and we will continue to seek additional funds wherever possible to deliver improvements. Along these lines, you may also be aware that we are currently developing plans for the next phase of track restoration between Burniston and Cloughton which will see a new track surface and increased track width together with improved access points.
With specific reference to the sections of the track mentioned in your email I am pleased to report that our contractors have just completed the emergency repair works to the Stoupe Brow section of track and this will be re-opened in the next few days. In addition, we will be undertaking further improvement works to the track surface between Ravenscar and Robin Hoods Bay over the coming weeks.
Finally, in response to your concern regarding the future responsibility for the track, I am sure that you will appreciate that the work associated with developing new service structures for the Council will take some time and is a complex process. That said, I can assure you that North Yorkshire Council recognises the importance of the Cinder Track and will continue to seek opportunities to deliver improvements wherever possible.
NYC Assistant Director for Integrated Passenger Transport, Licensing, Fleet, Harbours and Countryside Access
This reply seemingly omitted to mention any work to fix the problems between Hawsker and Robin Hoods Bay. So we pursued it with the following email