Research Info
  • Title: Highland Cluster Mountain Biking Study
  • Researcher Name(s): University of Highlands & Islands Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research
  • Email: Peter.Varley@whc.uhi.ac.uk

DMBinS Highland Cluster Study

The Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland - Highland Cluster have successfully completed a strategic review of mountain biking in the Highlands in March 2012.

DMBinS commissioned University of Highlands & Islands - 'The Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research' to undertake research which mapped the current provision of mountain biking in the Highlands, identified the principal gaps in that provision, quantified the economic benefits of Highlands mountain biking, and made recommendations for its future development.

Some of the key findings of the report are that mountain biking is worth:

An annual expenditure of £8.14m;
Employment of 238 FTEs;
Gross Value Added of £4.65m.

It was projected that growth of 30% over the next five years could be achieved, which would see the value of the Highlands mountain biking sector rise in value to:

An annual expenditure of £10.58m;
Employ another 71 FTEs:
Gross Value Added of £6.06m.

A number of key suggestions were made to enable appropriate levels of sectoral growth to be achieved, split into practical and more strategic recommendations. Strategic recommendations include:

Greater use of volunteer groups for trail maintenance (modelled on good practice elsewhere),
The redefinition of paths as ‘multi-use’,
The creation and promotion of easier routes, perhaps linking attractions and facilities, to encourage family use;
The more formal designation of mountain biking centres or hubs.

In order to achieve the full growth potential, however, it is proposed that a number of key short-term recommendations need to be implemented:

Lack of an identifiable brand for mountain biking for the Highlands, one that can be as evocative to existing mountain bikers as the 7Stanes, whilst also actively promoting mountain biking to the family market;
In tandem a single Highlands web portal for information related to all things mountain biking, from trails to bike shops and cafes.
More comprehensive signage to and around trails and trail centres needs to be developed, while better trail guides, and improved trail provision for family markets, would help to both broaden the market and encourage more tourists to undertake rides.
The Highlands has a wealth of iconic landscapes and names – from Loch Ness to the Isle of Skye – and wild landscapes unparalleled in the UK.

The mountain biking sector needs to capitalise on these assets in a range of ways to ensure its sustainable future.

This project is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Highland Leader 2007-2013 programme. The other funding partners are Highland Council, DMBinS, Cairngorm National Park Authority and No Fuss Events.

Read the Executive Summary

Read the Full Report (8MB)