The guide seeks to respond to the number of 'illegal' trails being built across Scotland

A new guide tackling the issue of unauthorised mountain bike trails has been unveiled at the Scottish Mountain Biking Conference, beginning today in Aviemore.

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The document has been published by the National Access Forum in response to a growth in the unauthorised construction of mountain bike tracks and features. The main reasoning behind the guide is to try to mitigate the possible issues unauthorised trail construction can bring. Namely potential environmental damage, injury to mountain bikers and other users, as well as the raised liability concerns for land managers’ due to their duty of care to those on their land. While Scotland’s right of responsible access includes cycling, it does not extend to the construction of trails without permission from the land manager.

The guide stresses the importance of dialogue between land managers and bikers in order to find solutions to problems on the ground and makes positive suggestions for the future. These include the adoption of trails by land managers or agreements with volunteers or mountain bike groups. National Access Forum Convenor David Henderson-Howat said: “This guide should provide a useful starting point for land managers and mountain bikers when they sit down together to discuss the potential future for mountain bike trails in the context of their particular circumstances.” SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska added: “Scotland has a fantastic natural environment and we want everyone to be able to share it safely. “I’m delighted that this guidance has been produced to ensure that mountain bikers and everyone else enjoying our exceptional outdoor space can use it safely and sustainably. “The process of producing this guidance is a great example of everyone recognising the value of Scotland’s wonderful natural resources, the needs of others, and the benefits of working together.”

This comes off the back of a series of workshops around Scotland during October that had the aim of tackling the prevalence of new trails popping up.

mbr has requested the full guide to find out just what it means for mountain bikers across Scotland. At this stage it doesn’t look like this is the start of a crack down on illegal trails, hopefully just a way of bringing all communities together to create safer and more sustainable enjoyment of the stunning natural environment of Scotland.