DAMAGE caused to ancient woodland by mountain bike riders has been described as 'sickening' — and the National Trust has found it impossible to prevent.

Bike riders have long used Borthwood Copse to enjoy jumps and circuits, but the extent of the activity is taking its toll on the historic land, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Recently, ancient oaks have had limbs sawn off, 4ft high walls have been erected out of timber, and huge trenches have been dug which has changed the landscape of the ancient woods.

The woods, near Sandown, Winford, and Alverstone, are private property owned by the National Trust.

CP reader Richard Dollery said a 40ft tree was recently cut down.

He said: "Youths have caused a lot of sickening damage at Borthwood Copse while building a route with jumps for mountain bikes.

"The area was a beautiful walk but has now been ruined by thugs with no respect for wildlife, other people who use the woods or anything else.

"They are planning a large circuit as other paths have been started. The area which is now just a muddy mess will have to be restored by volunteers but will never be the same again."

Isle of Wight National Trust's countryside manager, Robin Lang, said: "Borthwood is a popular place, visited by a wide range of mostly local people, all enjoying it in different ways.

"While we welcome this — providing public access to the countryside is an integral part of the National Trust’s work — it’s equally important that all visitors behave in a considerate and responsible manner, both to our places and to each other.

“In the case of Borthwood Copse, we did not approve the original digging of bike jumps over seven years ago, but we have found it impossible to prevent this activity because we can’t physically be on site all the time.

"We are a team of five rangers managing 5,000 acres of countryside.

“We’ve tried in various ways, including Facebook, to communicate and agree ground rules and reasonable limits with the bikers, but due to their numbers, and the disparate and changing nature of the groups and individuals over the years, this has not been successful.

"While it’s easy to see the attraction of this exhilarating outdoor activity, particularly for younger people, these large constructions are nonetheless causing damage to the trees, to wildlife (including red squirrels and dormice), and historic features of the wood.

"My other main concerns are the litter that is left behind, the reports of antisocial behaviour, and the issue of safety, where bikes are jumping across the bridleway.

"There is obviously a strong desire for a bike jump facility in this area. However, the current situation is not satisfactory. With the help of the local community, I am hopeful we can find a positive way forward, that also meets our conservation aims.”

Another CP reader said: "I am really saddened about Borthwood copse and I would like to clarify that it isn't just the youths that are causing these problems, adults are down there most of the time, as well as families with their bikes and drones.

"The problem has meant that my children are no longer allowed to go and play down there due to the anti-social behaviour, drones, alcohol use and fires.

"My dog has also been injured by a smashed upright glass bottle left in a puddle.

"Unfortunately not everyone is considerate and understanding of the environment and a few are ruining it for others.

"There has been accidents involving adults crashing into child users and close calls with horse riders and dog walkers using the bridlepath. There is no sense of tranquillity down there on a family outing anymore."

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