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Trails - What's been happening in 2023?

The trail network is essential. To be truly world class the trail network must be varied, well mapped and maintained, easy to access, suitable for riders of all abilities and located in key destinations across Scotland. What have we been doing this year to support and grow the Scottish trail network? Fair to say, its been a huge year.

Image for Decathlon Guide Tarland

We work with a large number of partners across Scotland to ensure the growth in mountain biking is sustainable and delivers quality rider experiences. We ensure public resources are effectively deployed and help mitigate against any environmental impact from the location and construction of trails. We also play an important role in advancing the arguments and rationale for strategic projects across Scotland.

Find out more about how we support the trail network.

We hope you can engage and volunteer in the trail network and, if you can, contribute to the Scottish Trail Fund to help secure a sustainable future for our trail network for years to come.

Tarland Trails Pittenderich

Early June saw the much awaited opening of a new £1.1m Mountain Bike Trail Centre for Aberdeenshire. The first in the area supporting the region’s ambition to be a leading adventure tourism destination.

A regional level trail centre for Aberdeenshire was identified within the Scottish MTB Strategy as one of several key strategic projects requiring significant investment but would in turn provide the largest benefits for riders, growing participation, sport development, and economic growth.

We, alongside North East Adventure Tourism (NEAT) were delighted to have supported the delivery of this project by supporting Tarland Development Group and securing critical funding. This landmark facility for Aberdeenshire will not only cater for the growing local cycling community but also act as a significant economic boost to the region as a premier tourism attraction.

The project, led by Tarland Development Group, provides a purpose-built range of mountain biking trails catering to riders of all levels. Investment including £350k from Scottish Enterprise and £300k from sportscotland’s Cycling Facilities Fund, alongside £250k from Just Transition were all secured as a result of a collaborative approach between the local group, North East Adventure Tourism, DMBinS, Opportunity North East, Aberdeenshire Council, and Scottish Enterprise.

The full funding profile was complemented by fundraising through Tarland Development Group along with generous local business and private donations.

It has been fair to say that the new trail centre has been a massive hit with the CRC Trails crew delivering an amazing set of flowing and fun trails that are taking the riding experience in Scotland to another level.

Further reading.

Laggan Wolftrax

Three years ago, the DMBinS Bike Plan for the Highlands looked at opportunities to improve mountain biking across the Highlands, including the provision of trails and facilities. It stated Laggan had ‘Great trails, but was lacking a family friendly blue route’, and recognised that active families are a very important part of the attraction of the Cairngorms for visitors.

As part of the Bike Plan, CRC trails were commissioned to carry out a concept trail design at Laggan - briefed to propose a new blue trail, with a district Laggan character, that allowed riders to progress onto red trails and include features for coaching.

From this, Cristian Pizzaro from Laggan Forest Trust, supported by our Ruari, started discussions with key stakeholders to investigate suitable support for the trail development and securing agreement for ongoing management and funding. Then with the management of the trails and a licence to build was supported by Forestry and Land Scotland, funding from sportscotland's Cycling Facilities Fund came in relatively quickly which helped make the case to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Cairngorms National Park Authority that the project was viable. And the rest is history. Late October, saw the official opening of the new trails at Laggan, ensuring a new era for the much loved trail centre and an important addition to the offer across the highlands.

We are really proud to have been part of this project to bring a much loved Scottish trail centre up to date and provide another offer to a whole new range of riders visiting the Cairngorms.

Further reading

Laggan Lachlan Blair small

Lachlan Blair by Brodie Hood - Opening Day

Glentress Masterplan / 7stanes Refresh

The Glentress Masterplan trails have been a long time coming, however, they have been worth the wait!

The crew at On Track have developed amazing, new, modern trails that have had the crowds flocking to them as they opened post Championships.

With a new skills area and green trail to be developed in 2024, the UK's busiest trail centre will have even more reason to visit next year.

We have continued to be involved in the refresh of the 7stanes project as it develops its business case for investment into the trail centres across the South of Scotland.

Glentress Tunnels

Highland Bike Plans

Our Ruari, Highland MTB Co-ordinator, has had an incredibly busy year with several projects contained within Bike Plans for Fort William, Lochaber, and Cairngorms being delivered, along with Laggan. Here are some other highlights:

Fort William Bike Park - supported the group and local community accessing funding, with insurance issues and provided funding for the opening event.

Nevis Range - supported the funding application to the sportscotland Cycling Facilities Fund for the welcome upgrades to the World Cup track in time for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in August. The new track was really well received by riders and is a blast to ride.

Cairngorm Mountain – after the initial concept for need for family friendly trails was identified through the Highland Bike Plans, the project has now been delivered through Cairngorm Mountain and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The new trails are accessed through 'magic carpets' providing another unique experience for riders in Scotland.

Visit Cairngorms Cycling Campaign – supported the mapping and promotion more accessible routes through the National Park. Ensuring support for local businesses and minimising impacts on sensitive habitats.

Of course, we have already highlighted the new developments at Laggan Wolftrax - a fantastic year for mountain bike development in the Highlands.

DG Fort William Bike Park 61

Progress on other Strategic Projects

In 2023, we were proud to lead the process of creating and launching a refreshed 'Strategy for Scottish Mountain Biking, 2023-2025'. The strategy has introduced new additions to the list of strategic projects: Dunoon Project and Perthshire Bike Parks.

We have been working behind the scenes to support investment into these projects this year and we are hopeful that we will see new trails being ridden in these important riding locations in 2024.

Aberdeenshire - Supported trail and pump track projects across the region which will be delivered in 2024. Through North East Adventure Tourism (NEAT) & Opportunity North East (ONE) Just Transition funding, we supported the build of the pump track at Transition Extreme. NEAT / DMBinS / Scottish Cycling / sportscotland involved in the Cycling Facilities Fund allocations towards a new trail project with Deeside Bike Collective, new closed road circuit with Ellon Wheel Park, skills trails and pump track with Friends of Haughton Park and a new pump track with Huntly Development Trust.

Highlands - in addition to the projects highlighted above which were identified as priorities within bike plans in the key destinations in the Highlands we have also supported the creation of new trails in Abriachan Forest, Inverness Royal Academy, and Dingwall.

Tayside & Fife - we have supported the following through the Cycling Facilities Fund working with Scottish Cycling and sportscotland: Kennoway Pump Track, new mountain bike trails at Lochore Meadows, and Middleden, Kirkcaldy. We have also been supporting groups in Dundee and Perthshire to develop new facilities in 2024.

West of Scotland - supported new trails and pump track to open at Arran High School and working with a number of projects in Glasgow, Loch Lomond & Trossachs, and Ayrshire which should be built in 2024.

We have been involved in several site visits with local mountain bikers and landowners to help save precious local trails.

We know how important local woods, ridden under Scottish Outdoor Access Code, are to generating participation and giving riders a place to ride close to home.

At times there will be conflict between other users and mountain bikers. We encourage site visits and bring riders, landowners, and local community representatives together to discuss the trails, particularly where they cross or exit onto paths used by other users, and make changes so everyone can enjoy the local greenspaces together.

Event Partner Doc Riding

UK Trails Project is now underway with David Evans the new UK Trails Manager now in post and part of team DMBinS.

Right Trail, Right Place, Right People, Right Time. We worked hard to get this project over the line and we are grateful that SRAM have embraced the opportunity and are on board as funders as we move to improve the long-term sustainability and security of trails, and trail access, across the UK.

This, we feel, could be a momentous change in the stewardship, management, and sustainable approach to UK mountain biking. We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge of working in Scotland and learning from national partners, Trails Associations, trail crews, and more across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Dave has been in post now for a couple of months and is making real headway in the first phase of this project. Touring the UK speaking to riders and land managers in key riding destinations, to gain a fuller understanding of what’s happening across the UK to inform a 'Right Trails, Right Places' report. This Report will share and celebrate your successes and highlight opportunities and the barriers to progress that need to be addressed in the next phase of work.

Further reading

Dave Evans 3

Our Marc, the TVTA / DMBinS Trail Coordinator, already in post and making a difference as the first full-time paid member of Scottish Cycling to work alongside a Trail Association. His role being to deliver a partnership project to develop and improve mountain biking trails in the Tweed Valley and across the Scottish Borders. The role will support the objectives of the TVTA while being managed and employed by DMBinS.

Over 2023, Marc has worked with TVTA, trail volunteers, local clubs, high schools and corporate groups and over the last year has helped run 60 voluntary ‘dig’ sessions with a total of over 2000 voluntary hours, improving 10.5km of 13 trails plus creating an additional 1940m of new trail.

We were delighted to build on this success this year by securing funding to take on Fee Wallace as the NEAT Project Co-ordinator. Fee's role will support the delivery of the NEAT project across all areas of activity with a specific focus on enhancing the trail network working with the Aberdeenshire Trails Association. She will work closely with our Will Clarke and play an integral part in the ambition to grow Aberdeenshire’s adventure tourism industry.

We have also enjoyed supporting and working with Douglas Carchrie who was employed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority as the Cairngorms MTB Trail Co-ordinator. Douglas has done a fantastic job of working with the Badenoch & Strathspey Trails Association (BASTA) to develop a plan for MTB trails for the area taking into account the environmental considerations along with the needs and wants of the riding community.

Listen to a podcast with Douglas and Emma Holgate, chair of BASTA (coming soon)

We know we need a varied, quality, sustainable (socially, environmentally, and economically), and well-managed trail network across Scotland. To help achieve this we need guidelines and a suite of training courses on trail planning, construction, and management based on a quality assured body of knowledge.

We are now an associate partner of an EU Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership programme called the DIRTT Project (Developing Inter-Regional Trailbuilding Training). The DIRTT Project is developing the content, resources, and training tutors in trail building across Europe.

We used the resources created within the DIRTT project and developed a new course, MTB Volunteer Trail Dig Leader. This new course is now training trails associations across Scotland. This year, 31 volunteers have attended the course and the feedback from attendees has been very positive.

The lead partners of the DIRTT Project, a Norwegian college – Fagskolen i Viken, have developed an EQF Level 5 Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance Course. Two Scottish students have joined this course and more will have the opportunity in 2024 and beyond.

We are supporting Trail Associations across Scotland, particularly in areas where we have regional coordinators, and we are able to provide direct support.

Over this year it has not only been practical support we have provided to TAs, we have also been working with Forestry and Land Scotland to ensure that TAs are part of their recreation plans.

We are extremely grateful for the work of TAs across Scotland and we salute all the volunteers who give up their time both on dig days and the considerable time behind the scenes to organise permissions and agreements. Thank you.


Individual Trails Associations do a great job at raising funds within local communities. The Scottish Trail Fund was set up to provide additional support to these groups by providing finances - particularly towards tools, trail building and first aid courses, and insurance for them to carry out work.

Perhaps as valuably, DMBinS will provide strategic support including managing national relationships, raising the profile of Scottish mountain biking to Scottish Government, Local Authorities and other key stakeholders, lobby for increased capital investment and create the eco-system which allows more trails to be legally built and maintained across Scotland.

Creating and managing the trails we love takes time, effort, commitment, and money.

DMBinS has proven expertise and the ability to deliver more trails – not just for the community but with the community. However, our core funding is finite and we needed the MTB community to support trails financially through this Scottish Trail Fund. It was the only way we will see us improve the trail network whilst maintaining our access rights as riders.

Trail Fund Now Open for Applications

Since its launch in November 2021, the Scottish Trail Fund has been steadily building a reserve of resources ready to be distributed to trails associations and local groups across Scotland to improve, enhance, and develop our trail network. Thanks to these kind donations, we are now able to open the Scottish Trail Fund for applications.

Applications are welcomed from constituted groups up to £2,000. We will also consider applications from informal groups which will be capped at £750.

Find out more and apply to the fund.

Tales from the Trails 1 Credit Pete Scullion

Credit Pete Scullion

British Cycling contracted Edinburgh Napier University to undertake research titled ‘The future directions and trends for off road e-MTB use and impact in Great Britain’ including funding from Scotland sourced, with the help of DMBinS, from NatureScot and Scottish Forestry.

Some of the research findings published in January 2023 include:

  • most e-MTB riders do not want to access fragile terrain, unauthorised trails, footpaths (in England)
  • most e-MTB riders will ride further, faster, and ride more laps of the same trail. Landowners & managers believe they are seeing increased wear and tear as a direct result of e-MTB use
  • knowledge of outdoor access codes and what to do in an emergency could be improved

In 2024, we will be developing a guide to responsible e-biking and we will work with the Upland Path Advisory Group to help mitigate any impact of e-bikes (and normal/acoustic) bikes on fragile upland paths.

With so many new visitors coming to Scotland for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships and many more with eyes on us through the global TV coverage, we wanted to produce a short film to showcase Scotland’s amazing landscapes, perfect for exploring by mountain bike, while highlighting our opportunities and responsibilities under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

The video compliments our responsible mountain biking guides and advice - Do The Ride Thing.

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