A key aim of the Scottish Mountain Bike Strategy is for Scotland to have a truly world class trail network by 2025.
So much work has already been done in developing the purpose-built network in both rural and urban areas but this left a vacuum at the top end of the sport leading to riders building their own trails, the majority of which, without landowners permission. In 2018 the National Access Forum Scotland, of which DMBinS are a part, released guidance which provided a framework for mountain bikers to work together with landowners to mitigate against any issues caused by these trails. There was a great need identified to establish a culture of trail stewardship from riders and DMBinS were tasked to support this culture change by a methodical and strategic approach to support riders to set up trails associations, each with the responsibility for the stewardship of trails in its local area.
Our regional development coordinators have been heavily involved in this from funding tools, Trail Inspection and Maintenance courses, first aid courses and assisting with setting up Memorandums of Understandings with landowners and sorting out Insurance to enable groups to operate. As our Highland development coordinator is the most recent in post, we thought it would be a great opportunity to share an update of the pretty cool stuff that is happening in that area. There has been a real enthusiasm for forming local trail associations, and we want to show some appreciation for all the great work going on within Highland communities.
Through all the restrictions of the last year, it has been difficult for organised trail maintenance sessions to take place and most of the local trail groups have needed to take a step back but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy behind the scenes.
Badenoch and Strathspey Trail Association have been heavily involved with the Cairngorm Capercaillie project. This project runs through to 2023 and works to improve capercaillie conservation through working with communities of interest through Badenoch and Strathspey. This gives great opportunities not just to help an endangered species but also to enhance the local trail network.
Golspie Highland Wildcat are looking at how to fund some important maintenance work on the trails, plus planning some potential trail developments.
Lochaber Trail Association have been building really positive relationships with a local land manager and should soon have an agreement in place to carry out planned maintenance work on trails in Fort William.
In the Inverness area, Black Isle Trail Association are a new group that have an agreement with Forestry and land Scotland to assist with the Learnie Trails. We are excited to see what comes out of this for the local area. Other local groups like Highland Trail Riders , who have been up and running for a while, continue their awesome work looking after the many trails around Inverness and its nearby communities.
We have recently been meeting with a group in the North West Highlands, looking at the potential of smaller groups working together looking after the path and trail network in this huge remote area. Some great enthusiasm and ambition that will be great to see develop and we look forward to continue to push this forward in this beautiful part of the country.
If you ride, trail stewardship is increasingly becoming important to all of us, so if you fancy helping out with maintaining and developing your local trails, now is a great time to get in touch with your local trail group to see when they will be starting to run organised dig days again.