“We did think about signs saying: ‘Be Nice, Say Ey Up,’” said John Horscroft from local mountain bike group Ride Sheffield. “But we settled on: ‘Be Nice Say Hi’ because we thought more people would understand it.”
The cheerful message first appeared on local bridleways several years ago (the exact words originated in the USA, John admits), thanks to Ride Sheffield and local land managers the Eastern Moors Partnership.
The initiative helped Ride Sheffield win the ‘Outstanding Campaigning Group’ award from national cycling organisation Cycling UK last month.
“It’s great to be recognised nationally,” said Ride Sheffield’s Henry Norman, “but it’s just as gratifying to see how the Be Nice Say Hi message has spread to other user groups across the country.”
“It’s actually about being nice to everything,” said ranger Louise Baddeley from the Eastern Moors Partnership. “That means fellow trail users, the wildlife and the heritage you find out here: be nice to that too.”
The partnership of the National Trust and RSPB manage the Peak District’s eastern moors on behalf of visitors who travel the trails on foot, horses or bicycles, and for the wildlife that lives there, said Louise.
“There are more people coming out to the Peak District than ever before, which is fantastic, and we want to keep that balance of making sure wildlife is happy and people are happy.”
Modern countryside managers like liaising with well-organised user groups like Ride Sheffield or the BMC (representing climbers and hillwalkers) who can then help to ‘self police’ using word of mouth and social media.
“By talking to other people interested in conservation, we learned so much that allowed us to pass the correct messages out,” said John Horscroft.
For example cutting erosion by choosing your route according to recent weather. Keeping your dog on a lead in nesting season so it doesn’t scare and scatter young bird or animal families. Cyclists giving way or stopping for walkers and horse riders using the same bridleway.
John said: “If you haven’t got time to volunteer once in a while, just stretch your hand into your pocket instead, and give a few pounds to a conservation charity like the Wildlife Trust or National Trust.”
Louise offers specific moorland advice – if you’re on a footpath, reduce peat erosion by keeping to the marked path rather than straying out onto the moors. Follow the ‘sandwiches not sausages’ message on dry moorland, and keep barbecues for the back garden. Also look out for sunbathing adders on paths and rocks, and if you’re lucky enough to see a snake, stop and give it time to slither away.
Think about the area’s history too, she said. “Remember people have been walking on the moors round Sheffield for thousands of years before you, so please be respectful to our heritage like our bronze age stone circles and 18th century guide stoops.”
Louise is working on a new bridleway map with the Sheffield Moors Partnership to be published by the end of summer. The existing network is available online, and, she hopes, shows cyclists there are plenty of legal byways and bridleway routes to explore the moors without straying onto footpaths.
Other national parks are following the lead of the Be Nice Say Hi campaign, she added.
“It’s simple really. We want everyone to talk to each other, so everyone can use the landscape and everyone can stay happy.”
Trail suggestions from Louise for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Ramsley Moor - not so famous local moorland near Baslow Road. “A nice loop takes you through woodland and moors where you might see woodland birds, lizards and dragonflies.”
Barbrook Valley - local wilderness near Owler Bar - “an out and back route where you can also get off your bike and walk to see stone circles and maybe an adder if you’re lucky.”
Curbar and Baslow Edges - various bridleways and quietish roads for out and back and circular routes - “fantastic views, skylarks and maybe red deer too.”