Every now and then I go to a site and the minute I get out of the car I think, ‘I don’t like this’. It was even earlier than that for Castle Hill LWS near Newton-le-Willows – before I even parked the van, I was thinking it looked a bit dodgy…. Unfortunately my expectations were correct and I was not five minutes up the path when I started to hear whooping and dirt bike noises coming from the site I was hoping to survey.
You might argue that young people having a good time on dirt bikes are harmless, and you’d be right 99% of the time (we can talk about the damage to vegetation later), but my feeling is that the group of people who don’t care about the environment and are loud and inconsiderate also includes that small minority who set out to intimidate, abuse and physically harm others, often for no apparent reason.
I went back a couple of days later and nothing had changed – so I didn’t do the survey. I have made plenty of mistakes in life and one of the lessons I have learned is to always follow my instincts. I still have the maps and might have another go next year, probably early in the morning on a wet day during school term time to give myself the best chance of an undisturbed survey session.