In early 2017, Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates tabled a paper to the National Access Forum expressing their concerns about the level of unauthorised trails which were being constructed across Scotland.
The paper resulted in a site visit to the Tweed Valley and a sub-group was formed to look further into the issue. At DMBinS, we were very concerned that the benefits of the rider led/hand-built trail network would not be appreciated and that there may be risks to our access rights in Scotland.
We provide a robust defence, engaged the MTB community in the process and led the drafting of the ‘Unauthorised Mountain Bike Trails - A Guide for Land Managers and Riders' which was published in November 2018 by the National Access Forum.
Part of our defense was that we could evidence that groups had approached land managers to maintain and build, using hand tools and minimal construction, trails but were met with a complicated and bureaucratic process that would require them to either lease or take out a community asset transfer on the land. Whilst we agreed that in some instances a lease or CAT should remain as an option, we agreed that an improved and more flexible framework to help mountain bikers engage with landowners and land managers would be beneficial.
The framework supports our work with Trails Associations and local groups across Scotland.
The guidance also contains several practical steps and guidance on several of the key issues and problems relating to the construction of trails, for example trail exits, brashing and fall zones.