Peak District National Park rangers are taking to their mountain bikes to patrol the hills and dales at weekends.
The increasing popularity of mountain biking has meant many more cyclists are testing their skills on the area’s challenging routes or trying out the gentler trails.
The cycling rangers – easy to spot in their high-visibility jackets – are there to help, giving directions, cycling tips, first aid, supporting with mechanical problems and if necessary mediating where conflicts arise.
Pennine Way ranger Martyn Sharp, who championed the idea, said: “Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports and appeals to people of all ages.
“We’ve had some very positive responses to our cycling patrols from fellow mountain bikers and from walkers.
“Mountain bikers can sometimes feel they aren’t welcome because some say they cause erosion and come into conflict with other users. But we all have an impact on the countryside and we’ve got to respect each other’s pastimes.
“Mountain bikers are certainly welcome on our bridleways and byways. We’ll be letting them know where they can and can’t cycle, and telling them about plans for any new routes that will be opened up.”
The mountain bike patrols enable the rangers to cover a much wider area in a shorter time. As the service develops, rangers will also be using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to give immediate advice and updates on the condition of routes and trails.
The Peak District is believed to be the first UK national park to launch routine cycling patrols.