Whatever happened to that KoftheP….?

KoftheP – aka me – has been a bit quiet recently. Previously I’d aim to get at least a tweet a day out with the hope that a handful would come back; almost a digital spinning of the plates if you like.

Thankfully this is such a wonderful community that I haven’t and don’t have to do that really that much as you awesome people keep diligently updating like the true altruistic community minded souls you are.

Thst said, the community has never been far from mind for me and I do always love seeing the updates come in every day.

But it begs the question, “What have I been up to?”

Well I’ve been busy doing other community mtb stuff with a smattering of real life thrown in for good measure.

I’ve even ridden in some big hills

Firstly, I’m now the chair of Peak District MTB, the UK’s largest volunteer led MTB advocacy group. Busy stuff in the group as they take on the role of guarding the bridleways of the Peak and pushing for greater access with landowners. Visit peakdistrictmtb.org for more on what we’re up to. Including planning our 10 year anniversary…

Then I’ve picked up a regular column in the excellent Cranked magazine. Yep, my witterings have actually found a receptive audience and you can read my slightly more carefully composed thoughts in the pages of the UK’s most beautiful MTB magazine – seriously, get it. Despite my nonsense in there it is a stunning thing every quarter.

Talking magazines, I’ve also had some fun with the wonderful folk at Singletrack magazine. Not only have I been the focus of Hannah’s questions for their Desert Island disc brakes podcast, but I’ve also been interviewed for a feature AND helped Barney plan and do a route in the dark peak for the mag. I truly love this mag and have done from issue 1. Another very worthwhile subscription and shining light in the mtb world – again; despite my witterings.

Finally mtb related, I’ve been plouging ahead with developing and establishing The Trail Pot: National Mountain Biking Investment Fund. This could/will be big. As such, I’m doing a lot of dotting Is and crossing Ts. Registering charity is tough going – but I’ve been plugging away. Just tonight it’s been Trustee management. But I have to be diligent and do it right as when it works, it’ll be riders’ money being invested.

Oh, and then put my family and work in there too and you’ll understand that it’s a busy time.

I’m loving it though.

Stay tuned and thanks for the ever ongoing support.


Mam Tor summit lift receives positive support

Campaigners have reacted with cautious optimism to proposed plans for a combined horse, bike and walker chair lift from Castleton to the summit of Mam Tor.

The lift, which aims to open from a year today, will take users directly from a purpose built facility by the visitor centre to a ‘disembarking’ point close to the trig point at the summit, where they can then enjoy the views, make their own way down or take a return journey. The ride up should take approximately 15 minutes and will offer users panoramic views of the Hope Valley and a close up view as it ascends the face of the shimmering mountain.

“With the foundational work completed beneath Mam Tor, we can now move to the next exciting phase in developing the project,” says Isa Kiddingson, CEO of Gondola Solutions, the company behind the proposal. “We’ll begin erecting the first of the necessary pylons later this month before starting work on the stations required at the top and bottom. The gift shop plans are exciting too.”

Similar projects in Aprillipäivän Vuori, Finland and Sherzo Siocco Forest Park, Italy have proven hugely successful and the company is excited to be expanding into the UK here in the Peak District.

“While earlier proposals did meet some opposition, we’re pleased we’ve now found a compromise which all parties are happy with,” adds Isa.

“While our tried and tested system, ‘DobboPult’ was a sound plan for this location, we unfortunately didn’t have the space required for the launch power needed. A proposed enhancement of this approach – our prototype system ‘TrebuVelo’ was shelved as a result.”

The ‘Hope Valley Line’ will take paying customers from Summer 2025. Horses will enjoy a ride in a specially designed cradle with their riders following in a regular ski lift chair. Bikes and riders will enjoy the journey up on recyled cycle carriers gathered from local Facebook groups.

“We’re proud of our green credentials and our Facebook marketplace policy means we’ll have a steady supply of spare parts where needed. Our supply partners in Facebook have been overwhelmingly supportive.”

Speaking on Facebook messenger, Avin Alaff said, “This still available? Can you deliver to Castleton?”

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the plans. Gondola Solutions invites comments on their page here

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 that..so 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

“I’ll give it a go…”

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.