MOUNTAIN bikers in the Lake District have expressed their dismay at the resurfacing and smoothing-over of a popular route near Staveley.

The Three Rivers Route, which runs between Kentmere and Staveley, has been repaired by the Lake District National Park Authority using slate chippings as part of the 'routes to resilience' flood repair programme.

However, the consensus among riders is that the work has 'ruined' the experience of cycling on the route, and destroyed some specific aspects held in high regard among mountain bikers and other users of the path.

James Vincent, of the Lake District Mountain Bikers Association, said: "We accept that repairs are needed to deal with erosion and water damage. What we are not happy about is the fact that we were not consulted and it was done in a heavy handed manner.

"It was a case of us just realising that the work was done and that the route had been ruined.

"There are parts of the route created by the bed rock that have been taken away. We also feel that parts have been unnecessarily changed so they could access higher parts, when they could have used different routes.

"They could have consulted with mountain bikers on this so we could have made sure we kept the route.

"It just feels like those of us who look for harder routes in the Lake District are being pushed out higher and further away as work is done that smooths routes over.

"People are going to have to look elsewhere for the experience of mountain biking in the Lake District."

Ged Acton, Flood Recovery Project Manager for the Lake District National Park, said: "We are continuing to repair the section of public bridleway between Meadowplatts to Ullthwaite Bridge in Kentmere as part of our Routes to Resilience project.

"This route remains as a bridleway for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to enjoy and was resurfaced using slate chippings to create a more natural appearance within the landscape. This improvement to the route has allowed machinery to access a part of the route to repair the stepping stones.

"The track is popular with mountain bikers as part of the Three Rivers Route, so we are talking to the Lake District Mountain Bikers Association, with whom we have previously consulted in relation to major work on the most popular mountain biking routes.

"In addition, we work closely with the Local Access Forum and are committed promoting and creating new and existing opportunities for outdoor adventure and through events – all sensitive to the unique landscape."