The volunteer-built seven-mile Follow The Dog at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire have been open since Spring last year, and for the most part all is well. The Chase Trails team behind the trails have been wrestling with one particular problem, though – the “Puddle of Doom”. This sizable gulf became notorious for its ability to swallow bikes and to remain a hazard almost all year round.
Chase Trails had two options to bridge the Stygian deeps. The boring way would have been to tip tonnes of hardcore and gravel into it until some sort of firm surface developed. But the builders went for the interesting way – an elevated timber trail. It’s a return to the original idea behind North Shore trails – using constructions to bridge sections of terrain that just won’t take bikes.
The Chase boardwalk is 45m (150ft) long and was built entirely by Chase Trails volunteers using 600m (1,980ft) of timber donated by the Forestry Commission and held together with 2,000 screws and 200 nuts and bolts. It took three months to build.
It’s intended to “test the skills of the average rider”, but for the more confident there’s 30ft long, 8in wide “Skinny” line bridging the wettest bit of the puddle. If you don’t think your inner ear is up to it, just go around it on the wider stuff.
At the moment the construction is au naturel with no chicken wire on the timber surfaces. The plan is to monitor the surface to make sure that it holds up and remains safe – Chase Trails expect to experiment a bit before a definitive solution is found.
Keep up to date at www.chasetrails.co.uk.