I have followed with interest the debate concerning the trackbed of the dismantled Whitby to Scarborough railway (aka the Cinder track).
The Cromford and High Peak trail in Derbyshire is certainly a parallel example.
The route of the first-ever Trans-Pennine Railway (opened in 1830), this has remained virtually untouched since closure and dismantling with no tree felling or tar surfacing. It provides an excellent path for both walkers and cyclists.
To the best of my knowledge, no cyclist nor cycling organisation has ever protested about the surface.
So the question is why such a furore about the Cinder path? As both an ex-walker and ex-cyclist, I would suggest this is owing to the complete lack of maintenance.
Certainly the section between Robin Hood’s Bay and Ravenscar was in a dreadful state when I was last there, owing to four-wheel vehicle usage. But hard surfacing of any route of this nature just encourages motor vehicle usage.
If Sustrans has any money to spend, then repairing the gravel is the answer, not ‘upgrading’ the work.
Such a shame nothing ever came of the Robin Hood’s Bay steam railway.
The situation would have been so different.