Estate and Mountain Bikers working together for community benefit in Aberdeenshire.

After the launch of the 'Unauthorised Trail Guidance' document in 2018 Glen Tanar Estate engaged with Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) to discuss some of the issues they had encountered on their estate.

After discussing concerns and opportunities for both the estate and biking community a trial approach was agreed where the newly formed volunteer group, Aberdeenshire Trail Association, would prepare a re-route of an existing ‘unauthorised’ trail on the Glen Tanar Estate which was a concern for both safety and environmental reasons.

As part of this process the estate, ranger service and volunteer group carried out site visits and found a mutually agreeable alternate route away from the area of concern. The agreed trail alterations took place in early 2019 when the Aberdeenshire Trail Association contributed approximately 250 volunteer hours to rebuild a previously damaged stone dyke, brash off the ‘old’ trail, prepare the ground for the ‘new’ trail and plant 20 willow trees to offset any peat disturbance attributed to the creation of the ‘new’ trail. The result is a trail that is longer, safer and more sustainable than the ‘unauthorised’ trail it replaces while retaining a rugged natural riding experience sought by riders.

In addition to this trail re-route the estate continued to engage with other partners in the MTB sector including DMBinS and Doon Tha Brae events, a local group specializing in MTB enduro race events. In partnership the estate and DMBinS provided a new cycle friendly gate at the end of the re-routed trail making access to the area easier for MTB riders. Doon Tha Brae hosted a local enduro race in the area in June 2019 attracting 180 riders of all ages and abilities using Glen Tanar as the base and the ‘new’ trail as the final stage in their enduro race.

Moving forward there is potential for Glen Tanar estate, ranger service, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Aberdeenshire Trail Association, Doon Tha Brae events and others to continue with a very proactive partnership approach with clear communication channels which brings benefits for all.