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.
On November 29th, 2021, Storm Arwen hit Scotland, causing widespread devastation, particularly to forests, across Scotland. The trails were severely affected across several of our key destinations. There was also a severe risk to mountain bikers as many trees were left either ‘hanging’ or unstable, leading to a risk of further trees falling. We played a significant role in communicating the risks to riders through weekly webinar updates, a Scotland wide checklist of open and closed trails and frequent social media posts.
We liaised with landowners, particularly Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), to understand how mountain bikers could help or hinder the clear-up effort to get trails open again. DMBinS met with strategic partners daily to help obtain permissions for Trails Associations (TAs) to assess the condition of the trail network and then begin to divert trails around windblown trees.
Through strategic partnerships in the North East of Scotland, the area worst affected by the storm, £400,000 worth of funding was secured from the Scottish Government to be invested into mountain bike trails and help the clean-up effort.
£350k of this investment was directed to the Tarland Development Group, which was then matched with the sportscotland/Scottish Cycling Facilities Fund and other funders to create the most significant single investment into community-led MTB facilities since 2006. (see more below)
The final £50k was granted to ourselves, through Scottish Cycling, to tender for a Forest Works Manager to undertake clearing trails and sub-contracting trail builders to build new replacement trails with Aberdeenshire Trails Association (ATA) and Forestry and Land Scotland. This led to trails being reopened in Pitfichie Forest and new trails being constructed including Relish in Aboyne and Tomb Steen at Pitfichie.
The Cycling Facilities Fund (CFF) is an £8 million fund that aims to deliver accessible community and club facilities across Scotland and capitalise on the upsurge of interest in cycling by developing a network of accessible, inclusive and inspiring facilities that encourage people of all ages to ride bikes.
We have supported mountain bike projects across Scotland to develop their plans for trails and facilities to go forward for this fund. We have also been involved in assessing and feedback on the projects along with partners sportscotland and our colleagues in Scottish Cycling.
Many groups we have been working with for years and saw this as a great opportunity to realise their ambitions. We should reiterate that we do our best to support communities, Local Authorities, and businesses to develop their projects however these trails and tracks would not realised without the amazing enthusiasm, dedication of the individual groups.
To date we have supported the following projects:
- Tarland Trails 2 (£300k from CFF & £1.1m Total)
- Boat of Garten Pump track, Badenoch and Strathspey (£100k & £242k)
- Glenlivet Bazzas Berms, Glenlivet (£13k & £27.5k)
- Abriachan Forest, pump track and trail upgrade, Inverness (£50k & £125k)
- Fort William Bike Park, pump track, BMX park, trials park, Lochaber (£290k & £600k)
- Kennoway Pump Track, Fife (£75k & £193k)
- Inverness Royal Academy (£40k & £80k)
- Transition Extreme Pump Track, Aberdeen (£50k & £120k)
- Lochore Meadowns MTB Trails, Fife (£50k & £119k)
- Middleden MTB Trails, Fife (£100k & £415k)
- Cathkin Braes & Pollock Park, Glasgow (£246k & £925k)
- Deeside Bike Collective MTB Trails, Banchory, Aberdeenshire (£100k & £264k)
- Laggan MTB Trails, Highland (£100k & £217k)
- Arran High School, North Ayrshire (£190k & £364k)
- Stow Pump Track, Scottish Borders (£50k & £152k)
If your area isn't mentioned above - please remember we are only halfway through the fund and it is oversubscribed. With 27 of 32 Local Authority areas with a project being supported to develop applications there is a good chance new trails will be coming to your area soon!
See our blogs to get the detailed lowdown on all the announcements this year:
We also hosted a webinar to support those projects who had been through the expression of interest (EOI) stage of the application process. The webinar was recorded as it was felt it would be useful for others at different stages or those considering applying.
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 a one of eight partners, including Edinburgh Napier University, from 6 different countries wo are part 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.
This year we supported the recruitment and training of 4 Scottish based tutors. With funding from the EU, our tutors were trained in Portugal with another 32 tutors across 10 countries to form a European network of tutors.
We used the resources created within the DIRTT project and developed a new course, MTB Volunteer Trail Dig Leader. We then piloted this new course with trails associations in Aberdeenshire, Tayside, and Tweed Valley. This year, 58 volunteers have attended the course and the feedback from attendees has been very positive. We are currently developing a calendar of courses for next year to launch in early 2023.
We also ran a pilot project where DIRTT resources and practical trail building were used to engage and help a young person who wasn't attending school. The portfolio developed by the young person has helped him achieve SQA credits enabling him to attend college. He has post-course 100% attendance at school.
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 2023.
We are currently investigating future funding to join the existing partners in DIRTT 2.0.
With over 20 Trails Associations now helping to manage the trails across Scotland, the next evolution is for the TAs to begin to have staff and professional support to help them grow their impact in local communities.
We are keen to support this by advocating the need for professional staff, helping to demonstrate the impact staff in TAs can have, and use the employment infrastructure within our host, Scottish Cycling, to hire staff and work in partnership with TAs to deliver projects and trail improvements.
As a result of our successful application for funding to the UK Community Renewal Fund, we were able to secure funding to work with the Tweed Valley Trails Association (TVTA) to recruit and employ Marc J Crowley, our TVTA / DMBinS Trail Development Coordinator. This unique post was the first fully funded, Scottish Cycling post to work directly alongside a trails association.
The DMBinS/TVTA Scottish Borders Trail Development Co-ordinator post has been created to deliver a partnership project to develop and improve mountain biking trails in the Tweed Valley and across the Scottish Borders.
The main purpose of the role is to represent the TVTA and DMBinS to liaise with landowners, land managers, and the MTB community to deliver an increased number of dig days, increase the diversity of those involved in trail work including more women and young people, and deliver hands-on practical work alongside the required paperwork to sustain and improve the trail network we all love.
Since taking up the post, Marc has been busy!
- 33 Inspections and 61 Digs
- Involving over 110 unique Volunteers
- Circa 2000 hours of volunteer time
- Volunteer Dig days with Sustrans and Baillie Gifford
- 12km Trail Developed or Improved
- 32 DIRTT Dig Leaders trained over 3 courses in the Tweed Valley
- 4 Outdoor First Aid Trained and Qualified
- 16 MTB Night Leaders Trained and Qualified
- Ran a series of trail inspection and maintenance sessions with Peebles High School in the Autumn term.
- Educational session with BASE Students and Leaders - Read PinkBike Article
- 16 sets of MTB Light as a pool for the kid's clubs
- 10 secure bike storage grants awarded
- Land Manager Issues - Meetings with FLS, British Horse Society, and Innerleithen Community Trust
- Circa £15k spent on tools and materials to enable trail development and maintenance
We have been working with Cairngorms National Park Authority for the last (nearly) three years to work with the local community, bike industry, and the Badenoch & Strathspey Trails Association (BASTA) to plan a network of trails that provides quality rides for locals and visitors and, crucially, helps protect the fragile habitat from disturbance to increase the likelihood of a population growth in Capercaillie, a native species that is under threat of extinction.
The project gives the local mountain bike community (through the 'Trail Feathers' group) a platform to work at a strategic level with land managers and environmental agencies to manage trails and and promote responsible access. By the time the project ends in late 2023, proposed outcomes are an agreed MTB Access Plan to support collaborative relationships into the future, 'trail camps' for young riders and builders, high quality responsible access resources, promotable routes and promotion for local businesses to share with visitors, habitat restoration work and new community trail projects.
This year the Trail Feathers group agreed to recruit and employ a paid intern, Douglas Carchrie, to develop a map of bike trails, signage, and promoted routes mapped in Badenoch and Strathspey alongside capercaillie data. Using this evidence-based approach Douglas is working with our regional co-ordinator, Ruari Watt, to support the work of the Trail Feathers group.
We are working hard to secure funding to keep Marc in post in 2023 and beyond. We will be also looking to work with Trails Associations across Scotland to secure funding for more posts based on the evidence of impact that the Tweed Valley pilot project provides.
We have also submitted a funding bid which would allow us to work with young people who are offending or at risk of offending in 3 areas: Pump tracks - bike mechanics, coaching/activating, events; Trail Therapy - improving mental health of young people through MTB; and DIRTT Trail Building - developing employability through mountain bike trail building. We have our fingers and toes crossed that we are successful.
We will also continue to support TAs through our regional co-ordinators and a national group. We hope to be able to increase our support across Scotland in 2023 - watch this space!
The storms across the winter of 2021/22 had a devastating effect on many homes and businesses across Aberdeenshire as there are a growing number of businesses whose livelihoods depend on visitors and locals being able to access mountain bike trails in the area.
Being acutely aware of this as a project team working across the region, we were able to approach the steering group of North East Adventure Tourism partners, Opportunity North East, Scottish Enterprise and Visit Aberdeenshire. Together we put a case to Scottish Government to try and secure funding to get Tarland Trails 2 the funding it required to provide a much-needed regional level new trail centre in Aberdeenshire.
Thanks to amazing work by the local development group, Tarland Development Group, and supported by a range of partners including the DMBinS team & North East Adventure Tourism, investment of £1.1m was been secured to create the new Trail Centre in Tarland, TARLAND TRAILS 2.
The work was even more impressive due to the tight timescales involved in finalising land owner agreements, securing match funding, tendering for contractors, and ensuring the local community were involved and informed about the developments. It was a rollercoaster start to 2023 and the passion, commitment, and expertise involved in making it happen is a credit to all involved.
The new trail centre is anticipated to open in Spring 2023 - it is shaping up to be the most exciting trail centre to open in Scotland in the last 10 years. Tarland Development Group are keen to get it open but please dont ride the trails until they are open.
A regional level trail centre was identified within the MTB Strategy as one of several key strategic projects which will require significant investment but will return the largest benefits for riders, growing participation, sport development, and economic growth.
Our role is to advance the strategic justifications and rationale for these projects, support local delivery partners, and help ensure the quality of the product meets riders expectations and global MTB market trends. These projects include a Bike Park in the Tweed Valley, implementing MTB bike plans across Highlands, refresh of 7stanes, and supporting the Scottish Cycling Facilities Fund. Behind the scenes, there has been a lot of work in preparing these projects and supporting the development of the business cases to make them happen.
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.
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.
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 the trails across Scotland. The fund is being promoted and supported by staff in Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, part of Scottish Cycling.
Thanks to the kind donations we have been receiving from the Scottish Mountain Bike Community in 2023 we will be able to help support trails associations, local groups, and communities who are keen to improve their trail networks, through a grant application process.
in 2023, we will also be recruiting a management committee to help distribute the money raised through donations to trail associations and local groups to help maintain and develop our trail networks across Scotland.
The new committee will help ensure a fair distribution of resources across Scotland, help promote the trail fund and its work, and help DMBinS further develop the fund leading to an overall increase in donations.
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