Storm Arwen was a considerable step above the usual bad weather and as I manage to get sat down and start writing this blog, we are then hit by the duo Malik and Corrie causing further devastation to the region. Prior to the duo throwing in their hand, myself and Jan managed to get access into Durris Woods after FLS confirmed access was safe to allow completion of trail inspections.
The day started by Jan picking up some powered aid from E-Guide Scotland to give us the juice needed to get around the trails in one sitting. Once arriving at the site, we were met by icy forest roads and a chill in the air. We grabbed our gear, got the bikes out the van, and set off on our way wheel spinning to our first trail.
We were pleasantly surprised by how Durris woods had faired compared to other forests we had seen in the local area but became very aware of the number of overhanging dangers across all the trails that a lot of people would likely not identify, especially with night riding being very popular at this time of the year, these dangers would not be illuminated and lurk in the darkness above.
We made it up to our first decent ‘Edge Of Chaos’ and slowly made our way down the trail stopping at any location in which a fallen tree was encroaching the trail. The areas were then documented by taking photos, noting any issue, identifying accessibility, and advising on potential work arounds by assessing the possibility of a small diversion.
Whilst we were conducting these inspections, this gave ourselves time to take in the true condition of the trails which when riding do not usually jump out as we are usually more focused on what’s ahead. This included protruding tree branches, areas that would benefit from drainage and sections which a long straight is met with an un-obvious sharp corner. We managed to also capture notes on these recommendations to include with our trail inspection reports to try and improve the sustainability and safety of our local trails.
The day was finished by a final climb up to ‘Lost Horizon’ located at the top of Cairn-Mon-Earn. At this stage of the day, this showed me the true possibilities of having an e-bike to drag you back up to the top of the hill for that ‘one more go’ and ability to keep the day going. At this time the sun was just at that right angle which gleamed through areas of the forest, an ideal end to a day’s riding.
Once I was back at home and settled down on the sofa for the night, I compiled our findings into fifteen trail reports and sent to DMBins who are assisting FLS with this phase of the scope. FLS will then review the findings along with all the other trail reports supplied from the local trail organisations covering 40+ mtb destinations in Scotland before being able to progress the works needed to re-open the trails and closed forests.
‘For further updates on Storm Arwen and the effect on Singletrack / Trail experiences across the country. DMBins are providing updates as and when new information becomes available or further progress is made on re-opening trails and forests’
In the meantime, I have been aiding to open other trails by assisting our local trail association ATA on sessions at Chutney Nudger, Aboyne and Whitelady, Pitfichie until we were then hit with further storms just before our second session at Pitfichie. This session resulted in being back at Chutney Nudger assisting chainsaw operators to clear fallen trees to re-open the trail.
‘Working with landowners, ATA have created solid relationships since forming in 2018 implementing their long term vision to increase the quality and sustainability of the local regions mountain bike trail network’
Meantime I will be completing further reviews of the inspected trails for further fallen trees and preparing for the day we are given the green light to start getting Durris Woods back open to the public. Make sure to keep an eye out on the social media for when events go live and to sign up get these trails back up and running.
Gravitate Trail Co-ordinator