March 8, 2017
The trails, marked and unmarked, of the Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders are renowned. From the trail centres of Glentress and Innerleithen to tracks such as ‘Flat White’, ‘Barts’s Trail’ and ‘Zoom or Bust’, there are hundreds now shown on apps such as TrailForks or Strava. Many of these trails have been hand crafted by a few talented locals, or in the case of Glentress and Innerleithen, maintained by the volunteer group The Trail Fairies and the Forestry Commission Scotland. With success comes a downside, and that is one of erosion and the trails getting hammered. With the word spreading of these incredible (but vulnerable) trails through social media and high profile races such as the EWS and Tweedlove, it is reckoned locally that the number of riders using the ‘off-piste’ trails is now exceeding that of the waymarked.
Late in 2015 a small group of local riders, from trail builders to local businesses, set about building a group that could legitimately work with local landowners so that the building and, importantly, the maintenance of the trails could be approached in a more professional and comprehensive manner. Constituting a group is a lengthy affair, especially when this is all being done by volunteers who have full time jobs, yet want to help provide for everyone. A major hurdle to the development and success of this group has just been achieved; the Tweed Valley Trails Association (TVTA) has been granted Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation status by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
What this means is that the TVTA can now forge ahead with setting up the board and driving forward its visions. Taken from the TVTA website, their goals are:
The Tweed Valley Trail Association (TVTA) is a community group dedicated to the stewardship and development of the Tweed Valley mountain bike trail network.
1. Culture and Responsibility
To promote and manage the responsible growth and stewardship of the Tweed Valley’s trail network maintenance and development.
2. Community Representation
To provide an independent feedback and opinions platform with a clear voice for the Tweed Valley mountain bike trail user community to engage with Government bodies, Forestry Commission Scotland, land managers and other stakeholders.
3. Trail Stewardship
In recognising the mountain bike trails of the Tweed Valley as assets that contribute to a positive impact on the local community and economy, we aim to become a responsible group of trained volunteers, able to build, inspect, restore, preserve and maintain trails that align with relevant and accepted standards and practices and seek to develop new standards and practices where improvements are deemed beneficial to ensuring the mountain bike trail assets.
4. Fund Raising
To become an independent legal body able to independently fund raise and direct financial contributions towards the responsible growth and management of the trail network.
Although in its infancy, the TVTA could really provide a major step forward in ensuring the world-class trails of the Tweed Valley remain so and also continue to develop. This is not going to be without a lot of hard graft, financial help and the willingness of the local community to work with them however, if that happens this could be a real game changer for the trail network.
TVTA trustee and local guiding company GoWhere Scotland’s Aneela McKenna said: “It’s great news to be finally recognised as a charity so we can get on with the real work. We’re soon to appoint a board to help run and manage the TVTA – all dedicated local volunteers that are eager to give something back to the trails. The best trails in the valley are being ridden to death (literally!) and we want to find the best solution to making these more sustainable. This is where the TVTA has a crucial role in the longevity of these trails who will be keen to work with relevant stakeholders to develop and support the management of the Tweed Valley mountain bike trail network. It might take some time to reach our goal but we are optimistic and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the local community to get the TVTA off the ground”.
If you would like to help the TVTA team, keep an eye on their webpage as details will be pushed out there and on their Facebook page. Meanwhile, the 1st and 2nd April is the IMBA ‘Take Care of your Trails’ weekend so leave the bike in the garage and go and help sort out all those niggling complaints you might have about your local trails… More details can be found here.