If I was going to sum up the condition of the trails right now in one word, it’d be “urgh”. But don’t worry, plans are brewing to sort them out.
We’ve literally had an uphill struggle to keep on top of trail maintenance over the past few years, due to the thinning work carried out in 50 Acre Wood. This blocked off most of the forest access tracks we used to move stone around, meaning that some bits of trail are now an awfully long wheelbarrow push (along bumpy singletrack) from materials that can be used to patch and armour them. After talking to the Forestry Commission we’re getting some of these access tracks cleared, and once this has been done we should be restarting trail days later this month.
The trail in 50 Acre has also suffered from poor signage: in fact, it was never officially incorporated into the trail network when Ashton Court and Leigh Woods were redeveloped. This means they’re quiet, but it also makes them in danger of being swallowed by undergrowth in summer, and could make finding them impossible for a rider who isn’t lucky enough to stumble across this site. Moves are afoot to put some proper signs up, and also to remodel the dodgy road crossing over Beggar Bush Lane from Ashton Court so it can be crossed more quickly (yes, this should finally be happening in 2015).
Finally, if you’re wondering how the trails in Ashton Court and Leigh Woods are holding up, the answer is very well indeed. The Nova trail will continue to receive cyclic maintenance (a fancy way of saying they’ll be redoing the surface as it starts to wear out). The one bad bit – the “switchback” red section of Yer Tiz nearest North Road – was fully repaired a couple of months ago. See the photo below (from Architrail’s Facebook page). Lovely job.