Help Shape the Future of the 7Stanes Trails

by 33

Forestry and Land Scotland has announced upcoming consultations on the future of the 7Stanes. To begin with, the dates announced only cover Newcastleton, but the other popular trails at Dalbeattie, Glentrool and Kirroughtree are to follow. Check out the press release below.

Communities and local businesses in the south of Scotland are being encouraged to come along to a series of workshops and have their say on the development of new plans for Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) mountain bike trail centres – known as the 7stanes.   

FLS is looking to mirror the successful delivery of the Glentress Masterplan by setting out the future of the remaining 7stanes destinations. Newcastleton and Dalbeattie will be the first sites to be looked at, with Glentrool and Kirroughtree to follow next year.

The aim is to transform what are currently predominantly mountain biking centres into more accessible, multi-user destinations that will appeal to a wider interest group – such as walkers and horse riders – as well as to families and disabled visitors while continuing to offer an excellent mountain biking product.

The proposals will also consider how best to maximise opportunities for increased community, commercial and public body investment that will both support regional tourism and boost the local economy. 

Drop-in sessions for the Newcastleton redevelopment will be held at Buccleuch House, 4 South Hermitage Street, Newcastleton on 

  • Thursday 29 February 2024 – 14:00 – 20:00
  • Friday 1 March 2024 – 10:00 – 16:00
  • Saturday 2 March 2024 – 10:00 – 13:00

The feedback questionnaire and concept map for Newcastleton are also online.  Dates for similar sessions focussing on Dalbeattie will be advertised in March.

Stuart Chalmers, FLS National Visitor Services Manager, said:

“Working together to better integrate our offer will help set a sustainable and considered strategy for the future. It will also generate more opportunities such as the provision of accommodation and the development of retail and catering outlets, so we believe there is plenty to get excited about.

“Our initial ideas will be developed with Borderland funding, but achieving the best results for the longer term will need a collaborative effort with communities, businesses, government and public bodies.

“We believe that’s the best way to create an achievable blueprint that will guide future rural sustainable tourism investment to improve the economy in the south of Scotland.”

The upcoming consultations are designed to give individuals, local groups and interested stakeholders the opportunity to see, hear and feedback on the proposals FLS has for the sites. 

Stuart Chalmers continued:

“This stage is about capturing ideas collaboratively to allow us to develop a concept that delivers on the scale of ambition suited to local communities.

“We are hoping the workshops will allow everyone to have their say and share their views and concerns at an early stage, and to see if there are other themes we should explore. Once the concept is agreed, more detailed survey work and analysis will be done.”   

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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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Viewing 33 posts - 1 through 33 (of 33 total)
  • Help Shape the Future of the 7Stanes Trails
  • mtnboarder
    Full Member

    “FLS is looking to mirror the successful delivery of the Glentress Masterplan”

    Oh dear, that doesn’t bode well if the Glentress masterplan is deemed a success!

    munkyboy
    Free Member

    Exactly. Just build the holiday lets in the middle and move on

    benpinnick
    Full Member

    No room for holiday lets as they are building a wind farm across most of it it would seem.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Just turn the wind turbines into AirBNBs.

    Double bubble.

    Gribs
    Full Member

    Has a single one of the 7 Stanes improved overall since they were originally built? Discounting off piste trails.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    I’d like them to invest in other trails in central Scotland. Most of the 7 Stanes are a big drive from most of Scotland’s population. So a decent trail centre that’s closer would be ideal.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    Has a single one of the 7 Stanes improved overall since they were originally built? Discounting off piste trails.

    Good question, there has been some new trails but there has also been a closure of others as well as a sanitation of some.

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    I’d settle for some remedial maintenance of what’s there already, then repairing storm damage before its even worth considering improvements…

    somafunk
    Full Member

    Most of the 7 Stanes are a big drive from most of Scotland’s population. So a decent trail centre that’s closer would be ideal.

    That kinda defeats the initial thinking behind situating the trails in the south west to start with.

    IdleJon
    Full Member

    I remember driving to Newcastleton through some lovely scenery and getting quite excited about how good the ride was going to be, then getting quite stroppy because the bulk of the ride was through thick conifer plantation with barely a view out. And the fact that I was looking for a decent view means that the trail itself was very forgettable. Since then I’ve told everyone to head somewhere else, if going to Scotland. The fact that SLF are suggesting dumbing it down even further would barely be noticed, although I’m not convinced that sharing green or blue trails with walkers, families, horses, dogs, is a good idea.

    jamesmio
    Free Member

    Away and on mobile only so haven’t checked the link yet but is it similar to the last questionnaire about “how should we spend this £x million pound windfall to improve the 7 Stanes, specifically think about a retail experience and holiday lodges at Glentress” bullshit?

    mrchrist
    Full Member

    Where can I find out what the GT master plan is?

    I spent a week there, a week ago and as said above, holiday let’s and then some new trails was all i saw.

    New trails were nice, kids loved them. Uplift driver knocked a guy off his bike on the first day so we knew not to get in his way.

    I like the idea of a ski piste where you can link a load of runs together to creat your own route up and down the hills.

    Had a great time.

    vww
    Full Member

    Tough crowd. New green, blue, red and black trails at GT, over 10km worth, that you don’t need to pay to ride, that get pretty good reviews, what’s not to like? Yes, holiday cabins coming too, but GT is still one of the most extensive trail networks in the country. Was able to host a pretty damn good XC world champs too. And there’s still a new skills area bit to be built. For an agency who specialise in growing and felling trees and are mostly self-funded, it’s not bad, no?

    *Though agree with the point on maintenance. A little would go a long way.

    jamesmio
    Free Member

    For comparison, there’s not as much as a toilet at Mabie (anywhere close to the bike trails at least). Dalbeattie has got a chunk of formerly great trail on the Red that’s been shut since well before Arwin, and miles of red still destroyed by the storm and never looking likely to be cleared, repaired or alternatives put in.

    Glentress is mega. I think the issue is (as it has been since the Stanes were launched) that some of us don’t live near it. And it would be lovely to see even the occasional grass strim done, let alone the millions of quid GT gets at our local centres (that we pay to park at and have season tickets for).

    Gribs
    Full Member

    Tough crowd. New green, blue, red and black trails at GT, over 10km worth, that you don’t need to pay to ride, that get pretty good reviews, what’s not to like?

    The original trails are knackered, bit’s have been closed for years and there feels to be hardly anything left of the original black route. The old cafe was friendly and welcoming, and did decent value food. The new one isn’t and doesn’t.

    Mabie is by far the most neglected though. It used to have a cafe/bike shop and a whole other trail.

    Trekster
    Full Member

    “2
    somafunk
    Full Member

    Most of the 7 Stanes are a big drive from most of Scotland’s population. So a decent trail centre that’s closer would be ideal.

    That kinda defeats the initial thinking behind situating the trails in the south west to start with”
    The general idea post Foot and Mouth was to regenerate the area in the same way as the Welsh trails did for Coed y Brenin. At that time it was reckoned to be worth £%mil to that area.

    One of the problems with all surveys post trail openings is that they will be driven by “experienced” riders who dont want to see "their" local trails "sanitised" or in FLS speak brought back to a standard. In old money most of the D&G trails could well be graded "black" in many places. Rode Mabie for the first time in months and there has been some serious erosion in places. Ae red route is a disgrace. A blue route upgrade has been "promised" for xx years...... Its all fine for the riders on their 150+ full sus bikes but it is a pain for anyone on a hardtail (me). It`s an auld debate resurfacing……… I have seriously considered giving up many times due to the state of the trails and those constantantly moaning about “sanitisation”

    Northwind
    Full Member

    Gribs
    Full Member

    The original trails are knackered, bit’s have been closed for years and there feels to be hardly anything left of the original black route.

    Yep, GT black barely exists at this point. Storm Arwen was a nightmare, this year’s been almost as bad but without the single bad night. Reality is, sometimes trails get put beyond reasonable use, and it can’t be fixed without bringing in the machines to safely clear it. Assuming the trail even survived the windblow, that is- you can go right up to the worst damage on GT black and see part of the boundary trail turn 90 degrees and go straight up, because the tree whose root plate it was built on went over.

    Pretty much every forest trail is one bad night away from being completely closed, or shut down long term.

    Teedertodder
    Full Member

    I’m not sure what the Glentress model is exactly, I would hope that the future of 7stanes goes beyond a handful of bikepark-style smoothed out rollercoasters and some holiday lets.
    The existing trails have been worn out for years, with most closed from Arwen. The old “off-piste” also hit from that and the cabins.
    I get that bike areas change over time, but it’s sad to see the neglect.
    There are better trails along the valley (and elsewhere of course) which we’re lucky to have the opportunity to use and help sculpt I suppose.

    shanemitchinson
    Free Member

    Ahh good old turbine bribes. Here’s 80 turbines to ruin your views and landscape but we’ll build more trails next to the ones that are already mostly wrecked and closed because we can’t be arsed to come and clear them.

    benpinnick
    Full Member

    Yeah thats what I read too. Newcastleton is effectively closed and has been for ages, so they’re going to put in some turbines and do some stuff. I noted an alarming lack of ‘Open bike trails again and make them better’ in the proposals.

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    There was a plan not long after Arwen to reopen the GT black using Five Year Plan, but nothings happened. There’s also effectively no trails at GT for beginners now- the upper green is unlikely to ever reopen as the bit of hill has been destroyed. Falla brae is broken again. The cabins are ever encroaching on the rest of the forest. The new trails are pretty beat up in places and haven’t even opened in others.

    There’s a general theme of neglect right across the 7 Stanes from what I read here, not just GT, but as the “flagship” offering its not great

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Ahh good old turbine bribes. Here’s 80 turbines to ruin your views and landscape but we’ll build more trails next to the ones that are already mostly wrecked and closed because we can’t be arsed to come and clear them.

    Works elsewhere.

    Went to Afan last month and had a great time.

    Stayed in accommodation that was funded/refurbished by the community fund.
    Rode up the valley on the bike path, funded by the community fund.
    Rode excellent* trails for 2 days and probably enough still left on the map for a third without much repetition.

    Our group must have spent ~£2500 in local businesses over the weekend (and that’s not including the bike shop).

    And some green (albeit tall and and white) energy as a nice bonus.

    *we didn’t do skyline this year which helps this perception compared to my last trip.

    I noted an alarming lack of ‘Open bike trails again and make them better’ in the proposals.

    I have to admit that as a “tourist” my last couple of 7S trips have been a disappointment. I did GT/Inners back in ~2014 just after it had had a load of money spent on it and it was amazing. 3 days solid riding without even having to explore off the marked trails. 2nd trip (2019) , was a passing through visit so just tried to do the Red. On reflection it wasn’t worth the faff of having to cram the bike in the car and work around it for the rest of the trip. On a hardtail it was just an eroded mess that struggled to have any flow anymore. 3rd trip was a bike packing trip that passed through Newcastleton in 2021, and “what trails” was the conclusion. Fire road, double track, an eroded bit, more doubletrack, fire road, short good bit, car park.

    Off-piste black runs are great if you’re local, but it’s well maintained blues and reds that actually deliver a return on investment bringing in people to ride and spend money in the local economy. They don’t need to be bland, some of the Afan blue downhills are exhaustingly rough, the blues at FoD have ~15-20ft roller-doubles.

    The extrapolation of that point is (unfortunately) turning it into centerparks with a few walking and green cycling routes probably delivers even better RoI.

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    If as many people as possible put these points into the survey, they might eventually listen so I’d recommend spending a couple of mins letting FLS know your thoughts

    duncancallum
    Full Member

    Kirro hasnt got huge elevation buts is a great place xc wise. Having a shorter more jumpy flowing loop would be great as well something a 160mm bike to fun on

    Glentrool has way more scope and height.. I’d love a Red at glentrool.

    franksinatra
    Full Member

    The problem is that FLS are just not given revenue for maintenance, and they struggle to generate revenue (car parking, be honest….). So they get big capital boosts every few years, build and then the decline starts. This cycle will continue until a revenue model is sorted out. FLS do have their hands tied behind their backs.

    We have a worldwide trail network, accessible for free. What other sport to you access facilities for free? I agree that ongoing (revenue) funded maintenance is badly needed, its just not clear how / when / if his will happen.

    neilupnorth
    Full Member

    Successful delivery of the Glentress Masterplan. They are having a laugh, it’s a complete mess, many of the trails are partially closed, diverted or in need of considerable maintenance, including the new ones. Many of the new trails haven’t even got permanent way-marking, it’s very much ‘laminated sheets’ all over the place and we’ve no idea what happening to the new skills area as the space has just sat there since the summer without any work starting on it whatsoever. Let’s not even talk about the rest of the way-marked trails in the forest. The place is an absolute mess.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    We need to be careful here – Glentress is the jewel in the crown for FLS and they really don’t like any negative chat about it as they have invested so much into it that they are convinced it will not fail…that investment has been to the detriment of the other Stanes as money is diverted from them, as well as other areas (as money is diverted from them).

    The care bit is that if they do do a similar master plan then they are likely to draw people away from Glentress – and how will that work for them?

    I really hope this Masterplan is left at Glentress and they create a suitable master plan for each area – and ideally they are all not the same as the one used at Glentress as that doesn’t appear to be working as intended.

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    “New green, blue, red and black trails at GT, over 10km worth, that you don’t need to pay to ride, that get pretty good reviews, what’s not to like?”

    Have you been yet?

    The green is less than 200m long and is no more than a link between the trails and the carpark. Construction debris is littered around. The bottom half of three of the trails closed after 1 day as the corners were collapsing. Drainage is poor and causing damage already.

    The rest of GT is in an even worse state…

    vww
    Full Member

    “Have you been yet?”

    Yes, I ride there most weeks. I can’t deny it is far from perfect, and that every trail at GT and the 7stanes as a whole needs maintenance. But I still ride and enjoy the trails. And I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to say the black trail basically doesn’t exist anymore – Boundary is shut and the diversion is long, and there’s a diversion around Buzzard’s Nest, but the rest is still there and still pretty good. Surprisingly, last time I was at Britney Spears (3 weeks ago) I thought it was running better than it had been for some time.

    The bottom line for me is that they’re literally free to use – I can’t expect perfection. And as FrankSinatra says, the funding for FLS as a whole means maintaining trails is way down the list of priorities (and that’s a whole other kettle of fish to get into).

    As for the construction debris, collapsing corners and drainage problems, surely an issue that should be taken up with the builders?

    Not trying to have a go at anyone here, each to their own. Just think FLS get a bad rep when as a body who mainly plant and harvest trees, it’s pretty good there are trails at all.

    benpinnick
    Full Member

    I rode GT twice in recent weeks and I thought it was good TBH. The green is nothing but the rest of the trails seemed fine. I didn’t notice it being beat up especially, but that might be down to my bike sporting 160mm of travel.

    I did notice the somewhat chaotic state of the place with signage etc. but I don’t think that had any negative impact on my days.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    Construction debris is littered around. The bottom half of three of the trails closed after 1 day as the corners were collapsing.

    The bottom trails are fully repaired btw, they’re still closed presumably to weather in. There’s also been changes made to the drainage and some other tweaks. The situation was made worse because it had to wait for the contractors to be available and onsite as it was basically a snagging/delivery issue not normal wear and tear. And let’s not pretend it was really “after one day”, the trails were getting basically normal levels of traffic before they were opened because people are arseholes.

    Construction debris? TBH it’s mostly just inevitable ground scars that’ll cover up over time, basically give it a year and it’ll look way better. The nonstop mountain bikers shortcutting trails, riding over verges and walking and pushing around everywhere have way more impact tbf, and also stop the edges of the trails greening in as intended. In fairness that’s been made worse than it probably would have been by the closures at the bottom.

    The signage is an absolute fiasco right now though. At least partly because almost nothing was done in advance, to try and reduce the number of people riding the unopened trails, the rangers were out the day before opening smashing in signs at the last minute (as it turned out, nothing short of landmines would have done that, but still). There’s more posts in place which aren’t signed up yet so I hope that’s part of a general improvement but it needs a really visible trailhead, a massive **** off map that actually explains how the entire centre works, information on escape routes and how to link up different trails, and I think most of all signs to link in the old trails properly.

    Long term is going to be interesting. It does feel like a high maintenance set of trails, and basically all the work at GT for years has been dedicated to making it as low maintenance as possible. I think partly there’s also just some ridiculous expectations here, it’s not going to be or supposed to be bowling green smooth, and braking bumps aren’t just inevitable, they’re normal. But the blue especially is going to need to be kept in good shape just in order to work and be in grade. Traffic levels have been insane, that’ll probably fall after the summer and presumably the idea is that it’s just part of the whole big centre once things are back to normal post-cabins, whereas right now it’s absolutely the centre of all the riding, I’ve spoken to so many people that are literally only riding the new stuff by going up the fireroad.

    Right now it’s easy to be negative about it, the cabins still feel like a bullet in the head almost, and the sheer amount of unconnected wind damage closures are depressing. Either of those 2 alone would be a big deal. It’s an absolute ghost of what it was in the old trails, that’s a fact.

    tom7044
    Full Member

    FLS now have a Dalbeattie masterplan available to comment too:

    https://www.research.net/r/2LWBMS8

    There will be a chance to come and meet FLS and discuss the plans in person on the 22nd and 23rd March hosted at the Dalbeattie Initiative office (down at 71 high street, not the pantry or the shop)

    For openness I work at the Initiative and we have an interest in the plans for the forest due to the link in to our Rocks and Wheels project at the old high school. https://www.rocksandwheels.org/

    tom7044
    Full Member

    For anyone interested I got the wrong link in the post above, the map and survey for Dalbeattie are here: https://www.research.net/r/dalbeattieforest

    There is still the option for anyone in the town to come along this Friday and Saturday at the Initiative office.

    https://forestryandland.gov.scot/news-releases/dalbeattie-forest-visitor-concept-plan-open-for-public-consultation

    The office is now back down at 71 high street (where the food bank had been for the last few years).

    As said before we have an interest in getting as many views as we can on improvements to Dalbeattie forest to support the town and the Rocks and Wheels project

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