Hayling Herald article for February 2023

Hayling Billy Sea Defence erosionOur Cycle Hayling column for the February Hayling Herald

…. with added pictures and web links that work …

This month

  • Billy Trail on trial?
  • Raw Hides and Sore Heads review

Billy Trail on Trial?

Hayling Billy Sea Defence erosionAre we just going to let the Billy Trail wash away? The Hayling Island Coastal Management Strategy says yes – then spend nearly a £million diverting it inland, losing viable farmland and probably several years with nothing.

Cycle Hayling thinks that’s mad, and we said so very strongly in our joint consultation response with HIRA, Havant Climate Alliance and Havant Friends of the Earth. I hope you did too.

Billy Trail in 1984The Victorians built the railway 160 years ago as a transport link, not as a leisure trail. The public weren’t even allowed to walk on it until the last 50 years, but even then it was mostly a quagmire. It wasn’t until cyclists in Havant got together with Sustrans in the 1980’s to get a reasonable surface, sadly now deteriorated. Active Travel is a key strategy for government and our councils, and we need the Billy Trail’s only traffic-free cycling route on and off the island.

The Victorian Billy Trail has defended Hayling for 160 years – it’s time for us to step up and defend it – with living breakwaters, oyster beds and salt marsh, like the Victorian Oyster Beds further north. Hayling’s first new nature reserve for decades.

The coastal strategy of ‘letting nature take its course’ is not always its best course – sometimes nature needs our help.

Raw Hides & Sore Heads review

I’m halfway through reading Pete McQuade’s brilliant ‘Raw Hides & Sore Heads’, the book of the Paris to Hayling Ride, now the Hayling Cycle Ride.

I’ve ridden it six or seven times, plus many of the spin-off rides, and I’d forgotten the magic. The fast boys passing us every few miles, restoring their alcohol levels and cheering us at every bar. The hills, the 103 mile day against the wind. The lovely Judy Dyer offering bananas to lubricate our shorts. The fancy dress! You didn’t HAVE to spend all night in the bar (we didn’t), but thank you to those that did – it’s made a much better book!

I do worry that Pete’s used up most of the world’s supply of exclamation marks!!! But most of them were justified! If you’ve ever done the ride, re-live it without the sore bits! If you haven’t, read it to find out why you must! From Hayling Bookshop, or Kindle, or both. It’s a magical part of Hayling’s history!!!

Tip of the month

Time to service your bike before the spring rush – see how at cyclehayling.org/maint!!!

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