New trail advocacy group UK MTB Trail Alliance has pulled together trail builders and community riding groups from across the UK, to give mountain bikers a voice... and get what our sport needs, too


More than 130 trail groups and bike parks have teamed up across the UK to give mountain biking more power and influence over land access and trail development. Called the UK MTB Trail Alliance, it’s arguably the first time mountain bikers have had a representative voice at a national level and could lead to massive change in the way mountain biking is perceived by lawmakers and landowners.

The new not-for-profit advocacy group wants to share its knowledge and influence, the idea being to prevent trails being closed off by landowners, and on a bigger scale put pressure on governments and cycling groups to better support mountain biking.

Risca Riders deserves credit for plenty of the trails around South Wales, and helping keep access to them too

“We’re on the side of the mountain bikers, and that’s something that’s been badly needed,” explains Robin Grant, who’s driven the coalescence of previously disparate groups. “Riders have long just assumed the trails they ride on have some sort of official status, but a lot of the time they don’t. I really do believe the launch of the UK MTB Trail Alliance will prove to be a seminal moment in the history of mountain biking in the UK – and that collectively we can make a massive positive difference for trails and the riders that ride them.”

If the new group’s successful we could see fewer unsanctioned trails shut down, and better access to some of the best mountain bike routes in the UK. 

Robin Grant, founder of the UK MTB Trail Alliance, and unknown photobombing pal

Mountain biking’s voice

It’s undeniable that the UK has a thriving mountain bike scene, with hundreds, perhaps thousands of different riding hotspots, all of which have dedicated trail builders and passionate riders who curate the trails. But they’ve tended to exist in splendid isolation, managing the trails and negotiating with landowners for access.

“They really are at breaking point though,” explains Robin. “There’s no funding for trail organisations, there never has been any funding, and lots of bike parks are doing it for love not money.”

Bolehills Sheffield DIY

Bolehills in Sheffield is a DIY jump spot that Ride Sheffield helped develop and protect | Credit: Mick Kirkman

Local mountain bike advocacy groups have had big success over the years, with Ride Sheffield helping to support iconic riding spots like Grenoside and Bolehills, Dyfi Valley Mountain Biking ensuring rider acccess, and even big, government-backed groups like Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBins) the standout performers. But there’s no national body pressuring governments or cycling bodies to spend money on mountain biking, Robin says, and so they’ve neglected the discipline. This despite the fact that mountain bikes are the most popular type of adult bike in the UK, with 33% of cyclists owning one according to market research company Mintel.

Manon Carpenter

Manon Carpenter wears many a hat – Specialized Soil Searching and Patagonia ambassador, IMBA Europe board member and North Cardiff Trails committee member, to name a few | Credit: Sim Mainey

How the UK MTB Trail Alliance works

The UKTA is a charity, and as such it’s directed by eight unpaid volunteers, or trustees. They’re a mix of people from small informal trail groups, big commercial bike parks and community-run trails from across the UK. There’s a full list further down the page, but on the books are Tim Foster from Revolution Bike Park, ex-DH world champ Manon Carpenter, and Ian Warby, who sat on the board for IMBA.

Ask these riders and organisers for help as a trail builder or rider group member, and you can expect access to UKTA’s Trail Hub, essentially a library of information on guides to funding, training, safeguarding, planning permission for trails, landowners’ liability, trail advocacy case studies, academic research and a host of other resources. Members can then chat and have their questions answered on specific issues, picking the brains of those who’ve travelled the path before them. You can request access to the Trail Hub at

Will it work?

Some trail advocacy groups and trail bodies across the UK have been tremendously successful in getting what they want, while others have been ignored completely. The UK MTB Trail Alliance obviously wants to learn from the ones that have succeeded and share that with everyone else.

That’s been tried before of course and never yet succeeded. Another trail advocacy group OpenMTB pushed hard for open access to land in Wales, only to see the process bogged down in bureaucracy, while IMBA UK, which was probably the sport’s first go at a national voice, fizzled out completely.

Cognation helped organise the funding for the new Caffall trail at Cwmcarn back in 2014, but its funding later disappeared

There are reasons to think UK MTB Trail Alliance will be the body to succeed though, for starters it’s genuinely representative of trail groups across the country, and while there’s no financial backing from anyone that also means there’s no one to cut the funding in the future. Remember Cognation? Born in 2010, the body helped establish new trails across South Wales, before having its EU and Welsh Government money stripped away.

The UK MTB Trail Alliance looks like it truly represents a cross section of the UK mountain bike scene too, from big bike parks to tiny trail groups. This is important because it gives a legitimate voice to the group. It’s already working too, with collaboration between the UK MTB Trail Alliance and Welsh Cycling on the launch of the Developing Mountain Biking in Wales project. The body also claims good relationships with landowners like Forestry England NRW, national governing bodies like British Cycling and Cycling UK, and national government departments like DEFRA.

Show UK MTB Trail Alliance the money!

The new group is a ground up body that doesn’t have funding, unlike the UK Trail’s Project, which has SRAM sponsorship. And although there are no salaries being paid out there are expenses to cover to help admin costs, and to help lobby and influence decision makers. 

“We’re inviting all UK MTB riders who care about the future of their trails to invest what they can to

make that future brighter, UK MTB Trail Alliance says. “Our GoFundMe campaign aims to raise £10,000 to help cover our year-one costs.” Head to the UK MTB Trail Alliance Go Fund Me page to donate

UK MTB Trail Alliance trustees

The UK MTB Trail Alliance trustees

  • Robin Grant – Founder and chair of the UK MTB Trail Alliance, trustee of Cycling UK, ex-ad agency CEO and successful entrepreneur
  • Ian Warby – Founder of Aston Hill Bike Park, former CTC off-road lead and IMBA UK board member and proprietor of Firecrest Mountain Biking
  • Manon Carpenter – Trail advocate, ex-world champion downhiller, Specialized Soil Searching and Patagonia ambassador, IMBA Europe board member and North Cardiff Trails committee member
  • Ali Hair – Chair of Trash Free Cambu, an informal trail group in Cambusbarron, central Scotland and Trash Free Trails A-Teamer
  • Kath Goodey – Chair of Trail Collective North Wales and proprietor of RideHigh MTB
  • Bern McClure – Chair of Grassroots Mountainbikers, supporting trail builders across Ireland, and Cavehill Mountainbike Club, which manages trails in Cave Hill Country Park in Belfast
  • Karen Newman – Director of Highland Wildcat Trails, a set of community-run trails in Golspie in the Northern Highlands of Scotland
  • Tim Foster – Former management consultant and founder and owner of Revolution Bike Park in North Wales