If you are a local rider of the approximate 65km of trails in the Long Valley area in North East Hampshire your heart probably recently sank as fencing started to go up around this Military of Defense land earlier in January.
This fence is to close off the area around Long Valley, a 940-acre military training area between Aldershot and Fleet. Concerning because cyclists, walkers, families and dog walkers have had access to and been using this land for decades.
This is military land and clearly, the Army needs to use it for training and must have priority but surely there is room for both user groups and more they have been sharing it now for decades.
The local Trail Action Group (TAG) who represent local mountain bikers in the area have been trying for 5 years to get a dialogue going with the Defense Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) who own the land. Their aim has been to help the MoD via the (DIO) communicate with civilian user groups to ensure people understand how to share the land. Up until this month, this offer had always been rebuffed by the DIO! Thankfully though they have this month been invited to meet with the DIO. There is even recent sounds that the gates should be open when the land is not in use. Let's hope this is the case. How this works practically needs to be worked through.
Let's hope they DIO will reach a compromise that keeps controlled access to this area for all the user groups that have been using it for years. We will be watching this very closely.