Trail Collective North Wales aims to make trails legit

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A group of riders in North Wales is seeking to make some of the currently unauthorised trails in the area part of the official network. The Trail Collective North Wales will be hopefully be following in the footsteps of the likes of Tweed Valley Trails in working with landowners to adopt trails that have been built without permission, and in doing so secure their future.

North Wales’s wild, ‘off piste’ trails are amazing and we want to keep them that way!

Trail Collective North Wales
Trail Collective North Wales

The Trail Collective North Wales explains the situation on the ground:

‘Our trails are amazing but currently completely unauthorised. Since the Covid lockdowns, usage of these trails has grown rapidly. Now we, the local riding community, need to work together with NRW to sustainably manage them and ensure their survival for all to enjoy now and into the future.

‘This funding will be used to pay for the setting up of our Community Interest Company (CIC), training courses in Trail Management and Inspection for our super-talented trail crew and of course insurance. Specifically, the areas that the Collective will initially focus on are two Pilot Study areas of forest as agreed with NRW namely: Gwydir (Betws y Coed, Llanrwst) and Bethesda (Moel y Ci and Braichmelyn). We hope to widen the project to include other significant trail areas in the near future.

‘At this time we are establishing a relationship with Natural Resources Wales that will allow us to protect and sustain the wild trail networks on their land, initially around Betws y Coed and Bethesda. We are grateful to Dave Evans of Bike Corris for his fantastic papers on Wild Trails, as well as all those trail associations across the UK with whom we’ve been working to ensure we can work for the good of all wild trail users in North Wales.’

In case you haven’t read them, here are the papers by Dave Evans that the Trail Collective North Wales is referring to:

Trail Collective North Wales

In 2021, Natural Resources Wales published a presentation by Bob Campbell, Andy Braund and Dave Liddy about ‘wild trails’ in South Wales, which used Strava to identify unauthorised trails and the frequency with which they were being ridden. Included within this presentation is the following slide:

NRW’s Land Management Group have decided on a more pragmatic approach to managing unauthorised trails:-

  • which recognizes the potential benefits of such trails.
  • accepts the presence and development of these in WGWE.
  • uses a more risk based approach.

There is a general presumption that Unauthorised MTB Trails can stay unless there are site specific circumstances why they should not.

The presentation goes on to outline a series of risk assessment questions to be considered when deciding whether to close, alter or leave trails, and to identify different examples of management for trails – with everything from official bike parks to quiet toleration on the list. The presentation seems to send a strong signal that NRW is up for working with riders and communities, and this approach was echoed by Dave Liddy when he was interviewed for the Trails On Trial documentary with Manon Carpenter.

I’m hoping over the next couple of years that we’ll have a lot more recognised wild trail venues where we’ve worked with local people and we’ve agreed what’s acceptable and what isn’t and that we’ve got regular groups set up and working with us in some locations.

Dave Liddy in Trails on Trial
Trail Collective North Wales

With all these positive noises in the background, the Trail Collective North Wales has started a GoFundMe campaign to help them get set up as an official Community Interest Company that would be capable of working with NRW to secure the future of wild trails in North Wales. They’re on Facebook and Instagram so you can follow their progress – and maybe offer up your help with a spade or litter picker when the time comes.

How can you be involved?

Donate to the GoFundMe campaign
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Instagram

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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  • saxabar
    Free Member

    Thanks for posting and publicising. I must admit, despite being very local, and a regular rider at one the spots mentioned, I hadn’t heard about the Collective. Some really good points in the articles, esp. need to reimagine and decentralise legit riding, to cater for more “advanced riders,” and to better take landowners safety needs into consideration. All of this sounds very doable. Point about who gets involved in building/maintaining is a good point too. Yep, there are “rippers” and “shredders” but there are plenty of others too, not least my better-half who loves to get out in the woods, remove fallen obstacles, and to otherwise make riding safe. Presented right, I can see wider communities getting behind this initiative.

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