PLANS to restore access for motorbikes and offroad vehicles to use a medieval byway stretching across a remote and mountainous section of Powys would “open the door to environmental disaster”, say ecologists.

Residents have also slammed Powys County Council after confirming it has secured funds to establish a modern track to facilitate access to off-road transport on the Monks Trod, in the Cambrian Mountains.

The Monks Trod is six-mile byway over a natural peat moorland and relates to Cistercian monks who ‘trod’ the path in the 12th century while journeying between Abbeycwmhir, north of Rhayader and Llandrindod Wells, and Strada Florida in Ceredigion.

It is home to many rare birds and has been described as fragile. It also spans numerous conservation areas.

County Times:  The Monks Trod passes through the Claerwen National Nature Reserve and close to the the Craig Goch Dam, in the Elan Valley. The Monks Trod passes through the Claerwen National Nature Reserve and close to the the Craig Goch Dam, in the Elan Valley.

A council meeting in December heard the authority was looking for funds to make the route suitable for motorcycle use, and a January update to the Powys Local Access Forum revealed proposals to use ‘levelling up’ funds to replace the historic Monks Trod at a cost of more than £300,000.

“I am appalled to discover the plan to turn the Monks Trod into a highway for 4x4s and scrambling bikes,” said Llandrindod resident Kev Joynes, in a letter to Cllr Jackie Charlton, the PCC cabinet member for a Greener Powys.


“The people using these destroy our landscape already, ignoring all standards of common sense and (show a) total disregard for the environment ’Improving’ this priceless piece of medieval history would be disgraceful.

“The area contains fragile peatland, so valuable in storing carbon other councils have spent money restoring damaged areas. And you intend to assist in their destruction, not to mention ruining the habitat where rare birds such as Golden Plover, Curlews, Red Grouse, Merlin and probably the last few Ring Ouzels nest. 

“You would open the door to environmental disaster. The funds would be better directed to helping the local community, by repairing potholes and various road problems.”

Because of damage caused by four-wheeled vehicles, the council issued a permanent order banning them from the Monks Trod in 1990 and in 2002 introduced temporary orders banning motorcycle use too.

This was briefly lifted a few years ago but reinstated when it became clear further damage was being caused.

In a letter Graham Taylor, chairman of the Powys LAF noted one resident had asked for the current temporary ban to be made permanent.

He added: ““This section of the route is in a wilderness area of the Elan Valley and passes through natural peat moorland and various designated sites.”

County Times:

Cllr Charlton said: “A significant length of the route has become extremely boggy, poorly defined and difficult to cross even on foot.

“Attempts to use it have resulted in increasing levels of damage, spreading across a significant width in the worst affected areas.

“The council has secured UK Levelling Up Funding to bring the Monks Trod up to a standard that will support long distance recreation between Powys and Ceredigion.

“It would provide a durable surface of a width that would allow for walking, cycling, horse riding and motorcycle trail riding.”