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Hornsea Rail Trail: East Riding Council in Cloud Cuckoo Land

Mudbath on Hornsea Rail Trail
Mudbath on Hornsea Rail Trail

The Hull to Hornsea Rail Trail is an absolute state.

At the Hull end, the surface has been wrecked by tree roots pushing up through the tarmac; at the Hornsea end, it’s a bridleway-style path which is a complete mudbath suitable only for mountain bikes.

Railway Paths Should Not Be Mountain Bike Routes

I like mountain biking, and there should be mountain bike routes. Railway paths, though, are flat and represent an opportunity to provide cycle routes for all ages and abilities throughout the year.

With a sealed surface, families could ride from Hull to Hornsea even with quite young children. Provide enough width, and people could even ride side by side, chatting.

Instead, on the Hornsea Rail Trail you’re either setting your teeth chattering on the tree root-speed bumps in Hull, or dodging puddles and getting covered in mud towards Hornsea.

Hornsea Rail Trail as muddy bridleway
Hornsea Rail Trail as muddy bridleway

Cloud Cuckoo Land

I pointed out the problems to East Riding of Yorkshire Council. A Principal Transport Policy Officer responded with a series of ludicrous arguments that makes me think the council lives in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

“The rail trail from Hull to Hornsea has a variety of surfaces and has some unsurfaced/natural sections. The route, as a public bridleway, is entirely fit for purpose as an off-road walking, cycling and horse-riding route.”

east riding of yorkshire council

This completely misses the point. I’ve got no problem with muddy bridleways existing, but this is a railway path with potential to be far more. There is a wide, flat trackbed which could and should host a high-quality route.

It links a major city, Hull, with the seaside 13 miles away. It could be a advertised as an attraction, a day out; it could be usable year-round in all weathers.

Hornsea is blighted by too many cars. With the advance of electric bikes, why not promote the idea of travelling from Hull to the seaside by bike?

None of this can happen with the Hornsea Rail Trail in an abysmal state of disrepair.

Has the council not yet heard about the climate crisis? Where is their ambition – did it sink without trace into one of the deep puddles on the Rail Trail?

Apparently the Path Surface Must Match the Rural Character of the Landscape

“Should external funding from Sustrans come forward then proactive surfacing schemes could be undertaken to tackle the unsurfaced sections, but we would need to offset the route and provide a surface which matched the character of the rural landscape.”

East riding of yorkshire council

The idea that you have to have a ruined surface in a rural area is idiotic.

For a kick-off, this was the Hull & Hornsea Railway from 1864 to 1965. Does East Riding Council believe that the trains ran on tracks made of biodegradable jelly, with sleepers cobbled together out of straw and manure? Because it was a rural area?

The proposition that a route through a rural area has to be a right state so it’s in character is laughable.

Does East Riding apply the same standard to roads through rural areas? Are they turning all their roads through the countryside into cart tracks so they are in keeping with the scenery? They are not.

In fact, if you look on the East Riding Council website, you will see them boasting about spending £6.5 million inducing more traffic by building the Brough Relief Road. There’s a photo of councillors grinning like Cheshire Cats as they stand on a brand new swathe of tarmac about 15m wide…through a rural area.

It’s double standards. It’s hypocrisy. It’s a pathetic excuse for failing to maintain or improve cycle infrastructure while splurging bundles of cash on new roads through rural areas.

A Decent Path Surface is Possible

Nidderdale Greenway through Hollybank Wood
Nidderdale Greenway through Hollybank Wood

There are examples of railway paths with sealed surfaces; the Nidderdale Greenway is one. Guess what, it doesn’t turn the area it passes through into West Bromwich. The countryside remains the countryside.

In fact the effect it has is to encourage more people to get out into the countryside and enjoy it, year round.

Anyone coming from the Netherlands or Denmark and attempting to ride our National Cycle Network would be astonished. They manage to build proper cycle paths, even through the countryside. Their economy thrives through the tourism generated.

By contrast in this country, and in the East Riding in particular, the authorities are clueless.

Hornsea Rail Trail: East Riding Council in Cloud Cuckoo Land

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