Friends of Plymbridge Woods

Just on the eastern edge of Plymouth is a gorgeous area known as Plymbridge. The name originated from the bridge over the river Plym, which for a very long time was the bridge nearest to the river’s mouth.

For a while, the South Devon and Tavistock railway ran through the area, as it followed the Plym Valley. Later, this was one of many branch lines that was demolished, and was eventually turned into a very nice cycle path – the Plym Valley Trail.

The Plym Valley Trail forms part of NCN 27, also known as the Devon Coast to Coast route.

A large part of the area around Plymbridge is owned by the National Trust, with adjoining woods, such as Cann Woods, owned by the Forestry Commission. Up in Cann Woods, enterprising and intrepid mountain bikers have built a number of single tracks, many of which are too gnarly for me to ride, even if I had a bike that could handle it. These tracks have always been unofficial and informal, more tolerated than approved. The cyclists that use these tracks have always tried their best to keep the area free from litter, and have tried to protect it.

The National Trust recently announced it was granted £4.8 million to build high-quality, dedicated mountain bike trails through Plymbridge woods, which are owned by the National Trust. The nearest trails of similar quality are to be found in Haldon forest, just outside Exeter. Having such a facility in Plymouth would be fantastic. It would bring economic benefit in increased cycle tourism, as well as social and health benefits through increased levels of cycling in Plymouth.

See also  Damned Teezily!!

Much of the area where the cycle trails are to be built aren’t much used, something which was recognised by the National Trust.

And yet, suddenly there is a group calling themselves the “Friends of Plymbridge Woods”, who totally oppose these cycle trails being built. They cite various reasons, the most laughable being “environmental concerns”. The real reason why the leader of this group opposes the cycle paths is far simpler. If you look at the map below, you will see a small enclave of houses that are significantly larger, and more expensive, that the average. This appears to be the area where the leader of the group opposed to the trails lives. The woodland around the cluster of luxury homes is Plymbridge Woods.

View Larger Map

It seems that those opposed to the cycle tracks care not so much for protecting the environment, but care a great deal about ensuring that others do not have free access to roam what some have come to view as their extended back gardens.

The thinly disguised protests about lack of parking, concerns about litter, and fears that motorcyclists would start using the trails are merely dust clouds designed to hide the truth. The fact is, many (most?) who currently use off-road cycle trails in Cann woods cycle there, and have little impact on parking.
Over many years there has been almost no litter problem in Cann woods, and motorcyclists haven’t been using it at all, even though they actually have had easy access.

This Wednesday there is a gathering of cyclists in support of the trails, meeting at the Plymbridge car park at 18h30. If you can make it, it’d be brilliant.

9 thoughts on “Friends of Plymbridge Woods”

  1. No way I'm coming from Manchester for the meeting but I wish you the luck. NIMBY's should be challenged vociferously and then taken outside and summarily shot. An excessive approach for some I know but just my opinion!

  2. I went there was a really good turn out around 250 cyclists turned up, all ages and not just mountain bikers. There is a face book page where the photo's have been posted. The page is Plym Valley Cycle Hub.

  3. I'm a keen cyclist, been cycling in South West Devon and on Dartmoor for over 20 years. I live in Plympton close to the woods.
    I've been watching the hullabaloo unfolding about this in the media.

    In my humble opinion… Plymothians, and the surrounding populace, are some of the most cycle unfriendly people I've encountered.
    Their attitude towards cyclists remains discriminatory, and it comes as no surprise to me that misinformed and anti-cyclist comments are being made.

    There's rarely been mention of the damage other users' irresponsible behaviour causes, or the huge amount of environmental devastation that's being caused by the cutting down of supposedly diseased trees, and mining close by.

    Personally, I'd question a bike hire facility and additional parking in Plymbridge Woods.
    Plymothians are not "cycle savvy" enough to realise cycling is a form of transport as well as a leisure activity and will drive to the woods when perfectly capable of cycling to it.
    If you question why they do this most cite the roads as being too dangerous. The fact that a considerable number are the cause of this is totally lost on them!

  4. It is a setback that the National Trust has withdrawn the planning application, and we remain hopeful that in the near future the whole application will be re-submitted (and approved) so that we can have a top-quality facility right on our doorstep.

    The odd thing is, the Wood Park development as done more damage to the woods than what any cycle trails ever could, so why is Mr Ainslie & Friends not campaigning to have the houses (including his own!) knocked down and restored to woodland? Hypocrites!

  5. I live in Laira and regularly cycle to and along the plym valley trail, I would love some proper trails so I can use my bike for fun as well as ommuting. I as aware of there being tracks but am unsre where they are and I am a little wary of straying from the main path in case I stray and inadvertantly give the Nimby's some ammo :-.

  6. Hi Robert,

    If you cycle up the path from Plym Bridge, it won't be long before the path goes over a small stream, and has steep drops to either side. Google maps tells me it is 366 meters from the bridge over Plym Bridge Road.

    Immediately after the stream you will see the rectangular floor that remains of an old and small building. You will also see a little footpath leading off to the right.

    Follow that footpath up the hill until you come to a rough logging track, where you should turn left. Follow the track until it crosses another, then turn right at the crossing. Throughout this general area you will see off-road cycle paths.
    If you go over the brow of the hill, you will find some gnarly jumps on the steep downhill sections.

    As a final tip, I will say that cycling around there late at night is a magical experience! There's nobody else about, and you'd often get to see deer, and occasionally even foxes or badgers.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.