Skip to main content

DIRTT - New Volunteer Trail Planning, Building and Maintaining Courses in Scotland

We recently attended a DIRTT ‘Train the Trainer’ event in Agueda, Portugal joining participants from across Europe to learn more about the project and participate in practical education sessions, to help us develop a new Volunteer Trail Planning, Building and Maintaining Course, specifically for Scotland.


The objective of the DIRTT project is to develop a shared European standard for delivering trail builder training, recognising the different styles of trail, ground conditions, and regulations in different areas. The project compromises a number of transnational partners from around Europe including organisations from Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal and Norway with additional tutor representatives from Italy and Sweden.


How did this come about?

Mountain biking is growing across Europe and a good proportion of this growth can be attributed to an increasing number of trails that have been purpose-built to meet the needs of mountain bikers. To help ensure this anticipated growth is sustainable, delivers quality user experiences, ensures public resources are effectively deployed and help mitigate against any environmental impact from the location and construction of the trails, there is a demand for guidelines and a suite of training courses on trail construction based on a quality assured body of knowledge.

DMBinS is a key partner in this EU Erasmus+ programme that is developing the content, resources, recruiting and training tutors and developing a pilot course aimed at volunteers, largely involved with trails associations.


Our Will was delighted to be involved.

What now?

We recently attended a DIRTT ‘Train the Trainer’ event in Agueda, Portugal with Napier University and Professional Trail Building companies from Scotland, joining participants from across Europe to learn more about the project and participate in practical education sessions. These practical sessions were complemented by educational classes focussing on principles of learning, organisation, and delivery in the trail building field.

Each country has a different approach or current application for DIRTT; Switzerland had more of a focus on professional trail building companies, Norway on professional builders and development of a college course due to start this autumn. Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Scotland had more focus on meeting the needs of volunteer trail builders – in Scotland specifically the many Trail Associations we support.


Our Ruari and Lewis

What next?

In Scotland, that means that we are developing a new Volunteer Trail Planning, Building, and Maintaining Course. The course will support volunteer groups to help them understand the background to our trails – land management, access, liabilities, and work with groups to develop skills appropriate to their terrain and experience.

We are very focussed on this being able to recognise the existing skills of our trail builders and not impose a one size fits all approach. The course will help groups build positive relationships with landowners, inspect trails, plan and deliver volunteer dig sessions. There will be elements of discussion around appropriate trail construction to ensure trails can be accepted by land managers and enjoyable for riders, while maintaining the character of their trails which make Scotland such a diverse and exciting riding location.


Reflecting on the day's learning.

So what is the benefit of the course to volunteer groups?

We have worked closely with Forestry and Land Scotland to ensure the course will help satisfy them that volunteers have an appropriate level of knowledge and capability to meet their requirements when inspecting and maintaining trails, which will help address other land managers' concerns.

The course will also help prepare participants to plan and deliver quality volunteer dig sessions. And finally, it will help boost participants' confidence and skills in terms of understanding basic principles that will help them design and build out problems on trails – for example, to avoid problems with drainage that leads to erosion or poor ride experience.

Through our own team at DMBinS and a select group of tutors we will be developing 2 pilot courses in Spring, with the aim of finalised courses being available this summer.

The aim is to keep the cost relatively low so we can encourage more groups to go through the course and do more good work on Scotland’s trails. Courses will be delivered locally, on the groups own trails so we can make these as specific as possible.

Keep an eye on our channels for updates regarding these new Volunteer Trail Planning, Building, and Maintaining Courses. Working towards them being available in summer/autumn 2022!


Of course there was a wee element of tomfoolery!

Support the Scottish Trail Fund

Make a Donation

Key Topics

Browse more from across the site by related topics

You may also like

Support the Scottish Trail Fund

Make a Donation