Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland’s new survey aims to protect popular Highland MTB routes from increased traffic.
Popular MTB routes in Torridon and Skye will be the focus of a new survey by DMBinS (Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland) with a view to upgrading them to withstand increased traffic.
A new project will start this week which will survey the existing path network in the Torridon and Skye area to understand their current condition and make recommendations for future upgrades. It will also work with other user groups, mountain bike guiding businesses and mountain bikers to set up mechanisms to look after the paths through ongoing management and maintenance helping to ensure future sustainability.
The project has been instigated and will be managed by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS), part of Scottish Cycling, and it has only been possible thanks to funding from NatureScot through the Better Places Green Recovery Fund.
The hill paths of Scotland are important for outdoor recreation, allowing Scots and visitors to access our wild and natural places under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. In recent years, the hills in the Torridon and Skye area have grown in popularity and the path users have grown beyond the more traditional land management purpose of hill walkers and climbers, to a broader range of users including mountain bikers, which has increased pressure on the paths.
The terrain makes it an incredible place to explore and inspired by magazines, web articles, product adverts, and user generated app platforms the paths are very busy with recreational self-guided MTB rides.
With landowner permission, and supported by experienced mountain bike guides, a professional path contractor will survey the paths to establish their condition and highlight any areas where erosion is occurring and look at the impact of use, including mountain biking, and erosion mostly through water damage. The survey will help inform future path management, through a range of actions, from simple volunteer work by members of the mountain bike community with land manager permission, up to larger upgrades of sections of path carried out by upland path specialists, and guidance on responsible access to upland environments.
The findings of the project will help inform ongoing communication and guidance by DMBinS and Mountaineering Scotland to raise awareness of responsible access, promote discussion on ethics of outdoor access and the benefits of organised stewardship of paths.
Ruari Watt, DMBinS Highland Development Coordinator said:
“We know from previous consultations with the mountain bike community that riders value the landscapes they ride in and want to protect the trails they ride. Through this project we can find ways to protect and maintain the upland paths of Torridon and Skye and learn how different outdoor groups including mountain bikers can enjoy these inspiring environments together and play their part in protecting them into the future.”
Find out more about what DMBinS are doing on their website here.