It started, like so many of my other daft mountain bike ideas do, late one evening after a while trawling about online. An interaction earlier in the week had sown a seed that I had no idea would grow into something quite so involved nearly a decade later.

But here I am – Keeper of the Peak – 14,000 tweets, thousands of blog words, countless bike mag mentions, a regular column, and now 3000 followers later, looking back and thinking ‘blimey’.

Now I know 3000 followers is miniscule in the old Twitter-verse, but for a niche-targeted group in a small part of the UK, it feels like a good chunk of people. But it’s not about quantity is it? It’s quality, and I really think that this group of 3000 people – this community – is really, really high quality.

And that’s what KoftheP was all about when I started it all that time ago: people. Making your rides in the Peak enjoyable, helping you plan, giving you a way of doing your bit to look after the places we ride. Hopefully it’s done that maybe just a little.

With you lot behind me too, I’ve had the confidence to go and argue on your behalf – pushing for better mountain biking access, representation and dare I say it – respect – for us as a community in the Peak.

There have been some particular highlights of course. The work on Cut Gate is right up there – a huge project which brought the entire community together to really show what we can do. It was nerve-wracking but worked out. The numerous bike mag mentions are a huge endorsement (you wouldn’t believe how excited I was to get a mention in the Local Info section of an MBR route guide), the numerous Award nominations including one where I was up against Chris Boardman and a certain Boris Johnson – (neither turned up so I drank their wine). And then just the nods and recommendations that riders make to others to follow KoftheP – these are perhaps the nicest things to get.

And then behind the scenes there’s been loads of things that having the support of a large group has meant we have even more sway in discussions and decisions.

And that is 100%, totally thanks to you lot – the followers of Keeper of the Peak.

There’s so much more I’d love to do – more podcasts, more blogs, more proper, real effective campaigning. More actual riding. But for now I’ll just keep on keeping on, sharing the updates and pushing for better MTB stuff here in the Peak District. Spread the word, encourage others to follow.

And thank you all for your support – hitting 10 followers back in the day felt like an achievement, 3000 is really, really rewarding.

“What are you doing?”

“I’ve got an idea for a Twitter thing to help riders avoid muddy bits.”

“Oh right, do you think it’ll work?”

“I’ll give it a go”.

See you on the trails


Ride. Tweet. Update.

PS: There are a number of you who have updated KoftheP week in, week out for years now. You know who you are. Thanks for keeping me going. Your support and enthusiasm to make things better for others (and share some amazing pics) really does make a difference.

PPS: None of this would have happened without the SingletrackWorld forum. It was on there where the seed was sown, and the mag has shown great support ever since for this whingy twit. Thanks STW, you’ve been ace.

PPS: Thanks to my biking buddies too. You know who you are and you keep me on my toes with it. Making sure you lot are happy is a great yardstick. Let’s sort that next trip.


“I’ll give it a go…”

Subscribe. MTB needs you to.

It’s late night. I’m chatting on MSM Messenger with a mate from school. The big, cream coloured PC box whirrs away, piled on top with AOL Online CD-ROMs and rewritable discs for my amateur Limewire piratage.

Clicking about, I stumbled across a message board with a bunch of people chatting about riding bikes off road. Some bloke called “Chipps”. Somebody called “Matt”. A load of others talking about riding. And the fun of it. And the love of it. I thought I’d join in.

A few months later the conversation on that little chat group turned to maybe starting a magazine. “We can do it if you all chip some money in”. It wasn’t much, so a load of people did. And lo and behold, a few weeks later a glossy, stapled, beautiful thing plonked through the letterbox.

A new magazine was born.

And it was different. It felt like it belonged to me. It felt like it said what I thought. It felt like it said what I thought but then pushed me a bit by showing me more. Inspirational stuff eh? No! Bloody annoying. It just told me the brilliant places I hadn’t ridden, but could.

Singletrack Magazine and its forum are a huge part of my mountain biking life. And it’s a huge part of how mountain biking has changed in this country in the past 20 years. Don’t believe me? Look at the support they give to improved access and advocacy .

But like all other small businesses, the last few years has been tremendously difficult for them. Add into that challenge the pressures on print from online content and it’s all the more important to support the people behind these vital publications.

I subscribe to two mountain bike magazines; Singletrack and Cranked. Both put quality writing and photography at their heart. Both put riders first. Both put huge stock in pushing for better access, provision and support for mountain biking. And both are, really, just a bunch of friends working together to do what they love, for other people.

That ethos can’t be allowed to just disappear thanks to ambivalence and quick access to stuff online.

Nothing beats the feel of a quality magazine, a brew and an hour of escapism. We have to fight to protect that.

It’s easy too. Subscriptions are not going to break the bank, even in today’s climate. Half a tank of petrol might get you 150 miles down the road. It might also take you to the Atlas Mountains, the foothills of Guatemala, or even Hebden Bridge.

I know this all sounds a bit gushing, and I realise the irony of saying this in a blog, but it is a rallying call to support the print mags. Sign up for a sub, because one day the option to do so may have passed, and you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Ticked off?

Understandably I’ve been watching the turmoil at Twitter Inc. with interest.
The core of KoftheP has been the concise nature of the platform and the easy access. Not burdened with the verbosity of Facebook; more explanatory the Instagram. More instantaneous than a web update; more public than a WhatsApp group. And no, I’m not ever going to do KoftheP TikToks.
But the uncertainty swirling around the platform at the moment is of some concern – though maybe not for the reasons you’d think.
The follows I and I suspect you have on Twitter determine that our feeds aren’t really that political. My preferences tend to ensure that the content which people fear will grow on Twitter with Musk’s changes, simply isn’t presented to me (or I guess you) when you use it. Musk claims it’s reduced, but still, that content is still there on the platform and there’s a palpable sense of people with intent being emboldened by the changes afoot.
It is far, far from out of sight, out of mind.
The way Twitter’s new ‘management’ are treating their employees is unethical. And this is the challenge I find. I’ve always aimed to do things the right way on KoftheP; indeed, it’s why KoftheP was set up really and the drum I’ve been banging for years. For the very platform on which it was built to be the headline act in global unethical business behaviour is challenging to say the least and as such I’m having to think long and hard about what to do. It feels vaguely hypocritical to talk ethics as I do, on a platform led by someone who is so brazenly challenging an ethical and indeed moral approach to business.
I’ve seen a small reduction in followers.
So what to do? Move elsewhere and hope you, the KoftheP community come with me? Build parallel streams on other channels? Go the to the Winchester, have a pint and wait for this all to blow over?
It’s very early days. There are inflammatory headlines reporting inflammatory tweets. There’s a sad stream of ex-Twitter employees talking about their abrupt exit from the offices of Twitter. But there are also reports of buyer’s remorse and the markets are reacting in kind to the sharp business practices shown.
Will Elon’s foray into social media backfire? Will he have to soften his approach and straighten up a bit? I don’t know. With reports of yearly interest payments on purchase loans vastly outstripping annual revenue, the financial acrobatics are going to be fascinating. And then there’s the tantalising prospect of thousands of devs with the expertise to create a great social media platform now at a loose end.
It’s not an existential crisis for KoftheP yet. I am watching what’s going on though.

Shady goings on

As you approach the Headstone Tunnel on the Monsal Trail, the signs ominously warn of the tunnel lights going off at dusk, and if you find yourself crossing the viaduct after sunset – especially at this time of year – the inky blackness ahead of you is not a particularly inviting prospect. Good then, that the path to the welcoming warmth of Monsal Head and the Stable Bar heads up the hill to the left of you.

Indeed, the tunnel’s nightly extinguished lights would be a welcome sight as you come to the end of the Brushfield loop.
But nearby within a mile or so, witnessing a line of lights in the darkness – legend tells – is the last thing you would wish to do.

Thornbridge Hall sits between Great Longstone and Ashford on the Water, just off the Monsal Trail, but if you find yourself wishing to explore the lanes by the hall at dusk, be very wary of any lights you might see up ahead in the darkness.

Longstone Lane passes by the Hall as you head towards Ashford in the Water, but to give it its local name gives more of a clue to its atmosphere.

For travelling along ‘Shady Lane’, even in daylight, can send chills down your spine. At night, it could be the death of you.

Locals tell of strange goings on at night. Sightings. Lights. An ominous procession passing the manor. But none can give too many details, as they fear they’ve seen the terrifying sight of 12 headless coffin bearers walking their grim march to who knows where, and quickly beat a hasty retreat.

And who is in the coffin atop the shoulders of this deathly dozen? Well, nobody…yet. Legend once more tells that the empty casket awaits the soon to be departed body of the witness themselves; the portentous sight a terrifying prediction of your own untimely death.

Accounts talk of swaying oil lamps or candlelight in Shady Lane late at night, the headless coffin bearers arriving to collect the unlucky observer. But would you hang around to greet them?

So next time you’re passing Thornbridge Hall late at night, maybe the darkness of the tunnels would be a safer bet than the lanes and woods around them…or maybe the Stable Bar is a better bet to settle and simply watch the sun go down.

Happy Halloween.


There’s been a bit more biking on this half-term holiday for me this year. As the mini-KofthePs get bigger, and their bikes get more suited to the kind of riding I’ve been looking forward to sharing with them, we’ve been able to have a bit of an explore. The Camel Trail doesn’t quite cut it for them anymore (though #3 still loved a scoot along earlier – with the escape of a trailer to jump into.)

Looking at the map, there’s not much in the way of a bridleway network in Cornwall, but that doesn’t mean there’s no riding and this week we’ve been round the Bodmin Beast at the excellent Cardinham Woods, stumbled across the trails in Bishop’s Wood and of course done the obligatory bike trail run with a pasty in Padstow.

But the highlight has been late afternoon today. Sneaking an hour out before tea, I drove to one of the many beaches visited by the South West Coast path, stuck my boots and helmet on and headed up on to the cliffs above the surfers, sandcastlers and swimmers of Trevone Bay.

Now I don’t know about you, but I see one immutable rule being that the closer to the car parks you are, the more militant the walkers are about where you can and can’t ride a bike, so a sunny South West Coast path in view of the busy beach promised at the very least some grumpiness.

But the reality couldn’t have been more different.

The ride delivered the ordered sea views and salty air I’d headed that way for, but then it brought a bonus as well. Or two in fact.

The first; a grey haired lady, two walking poles in hand gradually making her way up the hill ahead of me. Hearing my creaking saddle rails*, she turned and stopped. I prepared for challenge and put on my best smile and cheery hello. I was greeted in kind and quickly realised my apprehension said more about my prejudice than about the reality available in sharing a trail.

We admired the view together, talked about our respective families, and wished each other well. I hope she left feeling a little lifted by our interaction; I know I did.

A short while later, I turned around, the bungee cord of family life and impending tea snapping taught, and began the return along the path to Trevone. Ahead of me, I saw a lone woman who I’d passed earlier. Again, I anticipated challenge when she asked if I’d ridden past her a few moments before.

“Yes, I did. Heading home now though”

“Ah that’s a shame as you were silhouetted perfectly up on the hill there before and I just didn’t have time to get my camera out.”

I literally didn’t know what to say. Again, my prejudice undermined my own optimism. Maybe there’s a return to my positive naivety required. Maybe I’m rediscovering some hope.

And you need that right now, because it’s all a bit glum isn’t it? The cost of living crisis and all the other grim news is bad enough, but moves by our latest Prime Minister** to systematically weaken our commitments to the environment; from declining a COP27 starring role, to removing the various environmental roles from Cabinet are not that encouraging. Looking to DEFRA, Terese Coffey is now the go to Minister for things affecting our world – notably access. With my friend Richard Benyon in that space too, perhaps I need to dig deep into the positivity granted to me by those two people I met on the South West Coast path today***.

I remain optimistic. I always do, otherwise there’s nothing to go after. I know others do too. The excellent Glover Landscapes Review remains a go to argument for better access (and a whole lot more), and riding that coastal path earlier today, I was inspired once more by the people I met and the place I rode to push for more.

Back from my holiday, there’ll be a lot to do.

*I’m not sure if it’s the saddle rails or one of the pivot joints

**Rishi Sunak, this week

***I followed up our interaction some weeks ago. I eagerly await a response.

“A polite nuisance”

James from Bike Garage sent me a quick whatsapp. “Have you got MBR?”

“No, why? Anything good”

So it was a bit of a surprise this week to see myself quite so prominently featured in MBR’s September issue. I’m the bloke on the contents page riding a very old bike, very poorly on the Cutthroat descent. And I’m the bloke with the fat face profile photo on the Trail Blazers feature in the mag. It’s all a bit embarrassing really, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit proud. And of course, it wasn’t a total surprise as a few weeks ago I’d spent an amusing few hours schlepping up and down Mickleden Edge and Cutthroat having pics taken and then had a fun hour talking to the brilliant and very patient Sim Mainey from MBR.

Riding the PDMTB

If you’re reading this on the back of the Sim’s feature, welcome. It’s wonderful of you to come and find out a little bit more about what KoftheP is all about. I hope you find it useful enough to stay and offer a bit of support to what I try to do here.

But what exactly is that? Well to be honest I’ve just kind of made it up as I go along. It started with the conditions updates, then someone said “so who’s doing something about it?”, so I made some calls and sent some emails. That then put me in touch with the people who have the power to allow better access and I started asking (with others) what could be done to improve things for mountain bikers. And as more people started following, I felt I should try and do a bit more for them all. Doing a bit more led me to also joining the excellent Peak District MTB as a committee member and doing what I can do over there. Go and have a look yourself at their work.

I try to get a couple of tweets out every day at least to my followers and every so often cobble together a blog post. I spend a silly amount of time emailing, letter writing, going to meetings and trying to find contact names for various things; but there are small improving steps being made.

I’ll keep on going.

I always say that the big thing that does keep me going doing this is you lot, the KoftheP community. Small, but perfectly formed, your engagement and support is what makes it. So thank you.

Anyway, that’s my slightly longer welcome to those of your joining despite my ropey riding and stupid fizzog in the pages of your latest MBR. Thank you again for joining in and thank you to Sim for the invite in the first place; it’s brilliant to see advocacy getting more and more column inches.

Enjoy reading!


Volunteer of the Year 2022

Keeper of the Peak has been voted Volunteer of the Year in the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector Awards.

Me with award winners Fix the Fells and AKA Health, Wealth and Oneness

The awards recognise and reward the efforts that go into protecting and improving National Parks in England and Wales. I was invited to the Houses of Parliament on Monday 11 July 2022 for the awards, attended by MPs and Lords, National Park Authority Chief Executives and leading civil servants.

Lord Benyon presented my award

And would you believe it? KoftheP won. And I couldn’t be prouder. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the CNP for running the awards and Baroness Jones of Whitchurch for graciously hosting the event in Parliament. Also thanks to Original Cottages for sponsoring the award itself.

I’d like to say thank you for the nomination too and for all your votes. That this award has come from you means a lot.

Now I say ‘KoftheP won’ rather than ‘I won’  for a very specific reason; and that is because without you, the KoftheP community, there would be no KoftheP. I truly mean it when I say you all have a right to say “I did that”, ‘cos you did.

When I started nearly a decade ago, I didn’t ever think it would take me to the Houses of Parliament not once, but twice, banging the drum for mountain bikers. I didn’t know a regular mountain bike column would emerge from it or I’d be called upon for comment on mountain biking matters on national radio.

I did, however, hope that by doing what I was doing – with you lot – the voice of mountain bikers as responsible and influential group would start being heard by the people who can improve things for us. And the Houses of Parliament is about as big a room as I’ve been able to get into to do far.

So what next? Well that’s the exciting bit. Aside from the loveliness of winning the award (by public vote no less!), the venue and the tasty cakes, I also had a chance to meet and talk to the people in a position of power who are able to influence real change. I’ll be following up with Lord Benyon and Baroness Jones soon, who in the meantime went away with Peak District MTB’s “Working Together” booklet and some of our articles pushing for more.

Google the titles if you want a read

So it’s back to the lobbying, pushing, writing and campaigning. I’ll have a lovely email signature to help with that now though!

KoftheP needs your vote – I’ve been shortlisted for Volunteer of the Year!!!

I can’t quite believe it, but wonderfully (and very gratefully), I’ve been shortlisted for the Volunteer of the Year Award in the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector Awards.

First of all – thank you. One of you has nominated me (maybe more than one of you), and that makes me so proud, knowing that this daft little thing I do to make riders rides just that little bit better has meant something to you and you value it. Thank you so much for that – you don’t know how much it means to me.

Out for a walk in Edale

Keeper of the Peak was just a twitter feed when I started it. I never thought it would lead me into some of the conversations I’ve had, some of the places I’ve been and now, bizarrely, to an award ceremony at the Houses of Parliament.

But to get there I really, really need your vote.

The Park Protector Awards recognise the efforts of staff and volunteers working in National Parks in England and Wales over the past year or so. So if what I’ve been doing on KoftheP has made a difference for you, please vote.

It’s been a funny old year as the restrictions have lifted and more people have been out there, and with that it’s felt more important to try to look after the Peak. I love this place.

It’s a real honour to be nominated. A real honour. And that’s because its someone who follows me who has nominated Keeper of the Peak for this. Someone has seen value in the effort I put in to improve things for the mountain biking community (and others) in the Peak District and seen how much I care about it. For them to have taken the time to put me forward means a lot and is really encouraging. Thank you to who ever it was – I really mean that.

But KoftheP is just the name. The real honour should go to all those who contribute – you lot. If anything this nomination is for the entire community of people who follow and share. You’re the ones who make it work and I love that. What does it mean to be shortlisted? Well that means that you see real value in what I do to look after the Peak. I’m sure there were loads of brilliant, brilliant nominees, so to be selected is very rewarding. I hope it makes a positive difference. This says that others think it does, and that makes me very proud. 

Please vote now

Holding back the sea

Riders enjoying Cavedale

The Netherlands aren’t the first place that springs to mind when you’re talking about mountain biking. But there’s a lovely little story from the lowlands that seems frustratingly apt after a week of writing emails and making phone calls.

A Little Dutch Boy is walking home from school when he notices a small puddle in front of him. When he gets to the puddle he hears the sound of flowing water, a trickle hitting the ground around him.

Now, as a child of lands lower than sea level, our tiny Dutch hero was alert to the threat of flowing water and was suitably alarmed to see a leak springing from the earth sea dam towering above him.

And he acted on impulse to block the leak. The boy held his thumb firmly in the hole until morning, when people passing were able to relieve him and raise the alarm.

The little boy’s tenacity saved the city of Haarlem from being flooded. He’s regarded as a hero, up there with Robin Hood in the level of tales told to school children.

So what? Well this week Derbyshire County Council decided to start resurfacing Pindale, a byway out the back of Castleton leading up on to the hills around the Hope Valley. The vague plans had been shared with user groups via the Local Access Forum. Peak District MTB repeatedly asked for more details, in calls which were ignored or overlooked – either way they were certainly not responded to.

And so the next we knew, reports came in of the recycled MOT surface going down on Pindale; sharp, broken porcelain, wire, building rubble and other rubbish. A foundation layer of waste, ready for a top dressing of the locally-source limestone the original plans described.

Lipstick on a pig.

Peak District MTB mobilised a ‘fierce’ campaign about the works – I know, as I’m on the committee and was at the centre of it – and with pressure from the riding community, other interested groups and even the local MP, we succeeded in getting the work paused, the rubbish is currently being removed and DCC have stated that they will properly consult with stakeholders before starting again. You might read about it in the papers this weekend.

We eagerly await their invite.

Is Pindale just that small leak in the dam above Haarlem; PDMTB the little boy taking that first vital action to hold back a flood of similar, terrible jobs? I’m really stretching this analogy, admittedly, but now other more established and arguably more influential groups are involved, DCC finds itself under more scrutiny.

And so we await clarity – real clarity and detail – on their next steps.

Cavedale is mystifyingly, worryingly on their list for ‘improvements’. Talk of limestone aggregate on the track. It’s almost as if the lessons of Chapel Gate and Rushup are simply forgotten – but if you want some limestone gravel for your garden, just check the square in Castleton in a couple of years time. Or Peak Cavern, ‘cos that water that’s run down Cavedale for millennia has to go somewhere.
DCC once again seem hellbent on taking this course of action. It’s almost as if the contracts have been signed and it’s an inconvenience to them to back out and do things with proper consultation.

And hellbent seems an appropriate turn of phrase.

In their press release, which was either a demonstration of literary ignorance or subtle trolling on a depressingly unprofessional scale, DCC talked of the surfacing on Pindale being done with ‘good intentions’.

And looking at the state of the work they did up there; it certainly looks like that’s what they’ve paved this road to hell with.

Groundhog Day

“Then put your little hand in mine…..”

Bill Murray could be forgiven for repeatedly smashing the alarm clock radio to pieces back in 1993*, as he found himself stuck in a loop waiting for some key thing to change in his day and for life to snap back to normal. And you could probably forgive the folks at Peak District MTB for the same when the plans for ‘maintenance’ to a number of bridleways in the park were sent over earlier this month.

Derbyshire County Council has earmarked a number of local trails for work – starting imminently. The trails on the list include  some of the favourites in the mountain biking world; Cavedale is one prominent example.

Thanks to Pete Herbert for both photos

And there are some things in there which make for quite alarming reading. “3m wide” path. The dreaded “aggregate”. “Kerbstones”. It’s been very short notice for people to respond to the plans and initial reaction on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere has been one of rolled eyes, resigned sighs and shaking heads. Are DCC just doing the same old same old?

“Then put your little hand in mine…”

But are these something different? Rushup Edge was a byway. Cavedale is a bridleway. Different rules apply. Whether DCC will think that way is unknown.  Whether they will apply a dollop of common sense; likewise.

Also, Rushup brought one important change; a bloodied nose for ignoring a community and a revision to plans.

A lot has changed since Rushup-gate. Stronger relationships exist. Our influence is greater. But is it enough? These plans are close to the limits I feel. But details are very scant on what the actual plans and designs are. Peak District MTB are pushing to see them – they must exist because how can a contractor start work without them?

Peak District MTB do a brilliant job putting forward the MTB viewpoint in the Local Access Forum – the cross-user group which advises DCC on access. They have done the same here in site visits and countless emails. Join them, follow their social media. Share your thoughts with them.

So take a look at what we can see so far. Do we need to muster energy for another battle? Maybe Punxsutawny Phil can predict a brighter outlook this time around.

*if you haven’t seen Groundhog Day, it’s worth a watch. Available on all good streaming services or ITV4 at 11.00pm every Thursday

While you’re here

KoftheP is non-profit and volunteer run by one person in what little spare time I have.  But it has a few costs. To pay for the site you can help by buying some KoftheP gear. There’s loads available – hoodies, t-shirts, bags. Just head over to the shop to get your Christmas goodies and help keep KoftheP going