Fed up of remote trail centres

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  • Fed up of remote trail centres
  • proteus

    FC don’t have any land in and around towns? I guess it’s what’s available.
    FCS have lots, but they don’t build trail centres any more…


    When are we going to cater for riders in a way that doesnt mean loading up vans/cars with a days kit, sitting in the said car for two hours, riding for two and then going home again. Plus the kids we need to be getting out there simply never get the opportunity to ride these places.

    I’ve heard people say that some time in the last century people actually rode bicycles off-road without the aid of a trail centre!
    I know it sounds pretty crazy, but historians have recently even raised the controversial conjecture that these bicyclists may even have enjoyed themselves.
    Poor idiots probably didn’t know any better.

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    Hells bells, no mtbing near Inverness!

    When I was a lad in the days before mtbs, I lived in Inverness. My wheels rarely touched tarmac. Buy an Ordnance Survey Map and look at all the trails. You’re 15 mins on a bike from a ride no matter where you live in Inverness.

    That was mid last century, and if anything it is even better now.

    I used to ride along the old military roads down to the Corrieyairack on a dropbar bike.Those tracks are still there. Then there was the network of trails all over Craig Dunain and Craig Phadrig.

    The Black Isle has plenty of tracks worth exploring – loads of historical stuff to be found too.

    They’ve added the Great Glen Way and the South Loch Ness Way since then so you can do a loop right round Loch Ness.

    Either you have a totally unsuitable bike for your local terrain, or you don’t understand the access laws.


    The problem with FC is they went building using a tourism model – fine for those with own transport and disposable income, but absolutely no benefit for health – if you have to drive to them, those who don’t, won’t and not get the health benefit (in rough layman’s terms).

    If the trail centres were built with some health and wellbeing thought, then you’d have a lot more nearer the built-up areas as well. Typically, the FC saw a pot of gold and poured several pots of gold into gaining that…they missed a huge market that would have been more self-sustaining than just a tourism model, but they didn’t go for it.

    Carron Valley was never modeled on tourism figures (as an example, mainly because I’m very familiar with it) – it was always modeled on the health/wellbeing angle and the fact (in comparison to the existing trail centres) it was practically on the doorstep for so many – it failed due to other political reasons but the reasons for doing it were all sound and stacked up.

    There are places that offer trail centres in built-up areas – Calander Estates in Falkirk have built a network (and it is expanding) of trails that are very easily accessible by those living in the Falkirk and surrounding area – not amazingly technical but there is a very nice network of trails that will encourage many folk to cycle – no FC involvement in that. Cathkin Braes is another example – I don’t think that was FC either (although I could be well and truly wrong with that!).

    If the trail centre can be built without a sole focus on the tourism angle then it is likely to be developed nearer the populous…but unless someone is going to develop something and present it to those in control, it won’t happen. FC hold a lot of sway so anything that could impact ‘their’ efforts needs to stack up very strongly indeed.

    You don’t need a trail centre to cycle locally – trail centres are great if you don’t want to think about where you are going/weather/route, etc. you just get on your bike and follow the arrows…away from that sort of stuff then there is plenty to ride in your locality…you just need a sense of exploration to first of all find it, then second of all, link it all up – all part of the fun.


    I love trail centres. They keep the roving masses , their disguarded tubes and gel wrappers off the good trails.


    I don’t really get your issue (there’s also Strathpeffer and Contin only 20 minutes from you as well as genuine trails that those south of Perth would kill for) but I live in Sheffield and our inner city trail centre (Parkwood Springs) is a total waste of time- which is why there probably aren’t more inner city ones. The trail is only 2km long and not very exciting, and is in a rough part of town. Sheffield is lucky in that is as some height, most cities are built on the flat. There’s no benefit in flat trails.

    There’s also Rother Valley near us. Where people get their bikes nicked at knife point.

    Inner cities are rubbish, ride your bike somewhere else.

    OK I left myself open to some abuse on this one. Not quite my intention, so here is my second attempt at clarity.

    I don’t use trail centers often anyway seeing as I have endless fab stuff on my doorstep, however to access it, you need to be a bit handy with maps etc (which I can before you pick on that as well).
    However, for a great deal of our local kids thats just not an option and while wild riding is where its at for so called experts, its inaccessible to most folk. Look around, how many people couldnt be even bothered to cycle along a canal towpath, never mind head for what ever hills are local.
    For local Inverness riders – Yes there are kids cycling up the mast at Craig Dunain, but the tracks are completely out of reach for beginners, learnie is 15 miles away and I sure as hell would not want my kids cycling out towards Abriachan or Drum.
    So!!! – in summary, the post was meant to highlight the poor access for beginner to average riders wanting to upgrade their skills in a relatively safe environment – not the fact I havent the imagination to figure out where Torridon or the Dionard loop is.

    Premier Icon bigjim

    Ord Hill, everything from fire road to rooty steep stuff and bare conglomerate rock, and a few minutes over the bridge on bike or by car. I pretty much grew up there, not been there for a few years but doubt much has changed radically.

    I think expecting the FC or anyone to provide you with convenient facilities is just cloud cuckoo land.

    If it is something you feel so strongly about, why not try to get some simple local trails built, as have been done here in Edinburgh, or the pump track in South Queensferry, or that one in Fife I can’t remember the name of.


    hhmmm. There’s also loads of lovely woods all around Inverness where you don’t need a map or any skills to find and ride nice singletrack. Also the kids do us a favour by spending the school holidays building jumps! I think its alright around here…

    To be honest, I’m always surprised by the amount of kids on trials bikes I see – feel like telling them to get a proper bike and go and explore the woodz.

    Back in the day I’d cycle from the Black Isle to rag down the zig-zags on Craig Dunain, few laps of the BMX track and then ride home. Thems were the days like.

    Edit – bigjim – I wonder if we ever bumped into each other on Ord hill? Probably not – seemed like I was the only person in the world on a mountain bike in 1995

    Premier Icon kimbers

    some people out there are trying to bring mtb into urban areas

    hats off to this fellah


    not bad for tottenham!

    to be fair Bracknell is in the middle of a forest with its own trail centre

    and the council are actively interested (in collecting revenue from the car park!)

    Premier Icon bigjim

    jemima – I rode there a lot from 92-95 and much less frequently since then as I moved south to civilisation after school. If you went to Fortrose I might know who you are depending how old you are though!


    I think I see the OP’s point- I’ve only recently started driving and before that, when I checked, I don’t recall there being many trail centre’s that near a train station or within a reasonable riding distance. Not near me, anyway.

    That said there’s now two ‘inner-city’ trail centres in Manchester- Phillips park and Clayton Vale. I can imagine more of these springing up, though I am basing this assertion on no facts or research whatsoever.

    Premier Icon richmtb

    Learnie’s a bit sad now midlifecrashes, it lost a chunk of its black route to forestry work so now it’s very disjointed, the skills area was partly collapsed and felt totally abandoned.

    I was in the Black Isle last month. I was a bit underwhelmed by Learnie. Golspie on the other hand is fabulous.

    I guess the OP has a (bit of a) point. There is definitely an untapped “market” for built trails near a city centre. Glasgow has done okay recently due to the Commonwealth Games – the trails at Cathkin Braes are very well used

    But like others have said there is more to mountain biking than just trail centres

    Premier Icon jameso

    OP, I think the problem is that some people expect to be spoon-fed. We don’t need trail-experience-parks on people’s doorsteps, ‘we’ somehow need people to feel empowered or inspired to get out there under their own steam and explore. MTB isn’t all EWS and RadskillzUK mag, it’s just a bike that can get you places if you have the motivation. W/o the motivation to get out and try something you’re stuck online-gaming, facebooking and feeding the flab. Getting more groups to trail-centres for try-out sessions would be good but as one-offs the travel isn’t an issue for most areas of the UK now.

    Premier Icon Mugboo

    If they built one near Brighouse, the sad (strong) muppet that moves big rocks onto the trail, would only do his best to ruin them 🙁

    This bloke clearly realises what ruins our flow.

    On the plus side, Bradford council are doing their best to be pro biking in the face of opposition from the, no doubt, Daily Mail reading, sensationalist, old buggers!

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    sangobegger – Member
    …Look around, how many people couldnt be even bothered to cycle along a canal towpath, never mind head for what ever hills are local.

    That’s called apathy, not lack of facilities.

    Those sort of people wouldn’t ride even if it was from their front door.

    You don’t mention how old the kids are, but if they’re really young there’s plenty flat gravel roads around Inverness and especially the Black Isle, eg Monadh Mor. If it’s downhill type stuff you’re talking about, have you talked to Mark at Monster Bikes?


    Just get out there and ride your mountain bike, Loads of tracks and bridleways out there without the need of going to trail centre’s 🙂


    I used to live in the wonderful dump people call Newcastle-under-Lyme. When I started mountain biking 20 odd years ago I had a route from home to Keele woods then over to Hanchurch then down to Trentham gardens. About 26 miles altogether loved it. What’s more I live in South Wales now between BPW and Afan. Been to Afan once in 5 years. I use OS maps and the beach trails.

    There seems to be a lot of people missing the point here

    what about encouraging kids with sod all money and their Halfords special

    I’m sure there’s something we can all be doing to encourage the next generation of riders rather than vilifying someone that wanted to start a discussion about it.


    I live in Cardiff so am spoilt for choice. We’ve got Garth mountain, Machen etc about half hour away but also Cwmcarn, Bike Park Wales & Afan trail centres about an hour away.


    what about encouraging kids with sod all money and their Halfords special

    Then make sure the local council keeps rights of way open!

    You don’t need trail centres to ride, I would actually say they are a problem in some ways. If kids want to ride bikes they will, but do they, or more specifically will parents let them? The roads are SO DANGEROUS!!!! all those cars dropping the kids off, couldn’t possibly let my child out on the roads by themselves.

    I have been riding over 20 years now, it started by getting bikes out of skips and riding them where ever. eventually buying a bike and riding it where ever. I didn’t do near a trail centre for years because they didn’t exist! Did the lack of trail centres mean I didn’t start riding. I guess that is a very stupid question because I ride a bike!

    If your idea of riding is uplifts and downhill then you will have a problem, if your idea of riding is taking a bike from home to home via somewhere, well there are very few placed in the UK where there is nowhere to ride. canals, abandoned bmx tracks, old tracks, cobbled lanes, wasteground, bridleways, etc etc.

    Even many trail centres aren’t that hard to get to, cwm carn is fairly easy by train, I used to get one to Newport then ride up the canal. Afan isn’t much harder.

    I know it is shocking going by the average attitude on here, but you can actually ride a bike uphill and downhill you don’t need a car to drive somewhere, and even more shocking you might actually get ….. fit……

    Premier Icon outdoorsnapper

    Sorry to see so many of you having a go at the original post when it actually highlights some really serious issues, like how we all like to say how environmentally friendly riding a bike is but conveniently overlook the zilions of miles people drive with bikes in/on/behind their cars. And how difficult it is for people who don’t have easy access to a car.
    Lots of things we should be doing to address this:
    Get behind trail centres and other developments which are closer to centres of population. Don’t think anyone’s mentioned the Clayton Vale trails which are right next to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
    More capacity for carrying bikes on public transport.
    Make the roads safer for cycling.
    Wider access for off-road riding in England and Wales – preferably on the model of Scotland/Sweden/Finland, but any improvement would be welcome. (Wales is looking at this now).

    Premier Icon oliverracing

    wow, times have changed since I was a kid (only about 5 years ago – I’m 19), I used to go and explore and trail build if there wasn’t anything to ride.
    Yes I know most people like to just ride and don’t like trail building/ finding new routes but for me it’s often more fun than a trailcenter, as for beginner level trails, are they not just the same as bridleways?

    Premier Icon davetrave

    So!!! – in summary, the post was meant to highlight the poor access for beginner to average riders wanting to upgrade their skills in a relatively safe environment – not the fact I havent the imagination to figure out where Torridon or the Dionard loop is.

    So how did all us middle-aged Audi/T5 driving IT geeks get to the gnarcore skills levels we’re all at today then? Don’t recall there ever having been any inner city trail centres when I started out aged 14, in fact no trail centres full stop. It was a case of ride out of town 6-7 miles on to the edge of the Peak, then go explore, then ride home. Don’t recall anybody ever complaining back then. If we wanted something close to home we dug our own trails and jumps in the local park or derelict scrubland.

    Anyhow, living much closer to you now than I did then, if the local kids really can’t find anything close to home, a few quid on the train will get them to Forres, then 10 minutes peadlling puts them in Sanquhar Woods – couple of km of blue loop, with red sections, some orange graded skills loop stuff, a BMX jump park and the opportunity to extend from there on to more natural stuff in the local hills. All built by locals who wanted the facilties.

    Final point though – if you want it that much, you build it…


    I also grew up riding my bike in inverness, and there must be good stuff for beginners, because that where I started:) as mentioned ord hill, tv mast, culloden woods, drumossie, scorguie, and further afield like lady cairn etc. Not your point I know, but you have to appreciate the natural stuff thats around you. For a 14 year old at the time, we used to meet every sunday at the town house and just go with whoever turned up, a fairly unorganised group ride, which helped less experienced guys like me push themselves and find all the hidden trails to go and try again later.
    Since then ive been involved in the construction of trails at comrie, and would encourage you to try and get involved if its somethinb you want to see happen. If you can find a local progressive landowner so much the better, get some form of group formed who want to see trails bein developed and go for it!
    It will take time and aptience, but to get trails built, if you dont happen to be a landowner, it needs demand anddrive from more than a scattered few voices. it doesnt need to cost millions of pounds to get some good beginner level trail built
    In defense of the remote trail centres, these guys are looking to diversify to help bring some money in, which benefits their local economy and communities. I think its a good thing we are now able to access some remote areas and have some nice fun trails to do it on, I remember doing a race at golspie bitd and the hill was big and the view was great, but it was landrover track all the way, much better riding now which attracts riders to that part of the country, each of these sections of the whole has their place.
    A trail centre close to inverness would be massively popular, has anyone made any noises towards making it happen?


    I guess it all comes down to where you’re lucky enough to live. I live on the edge of North Wales and certainly had no shortage of places to ride when I was starting to ride all those years ago. I rarely visit trail centres now, too busy and too full of some pretty righteous people (ever seen the reaction when someone rolls up on a fat bike?, not me, by the way).

    I’ve worked in the bike trade for a long time, trail centres sell bikes and get people into biking, simple as. They also make a lot of money for the owners.One upside is that they keep the real trails in the real mountains free for the few who want to ride them. It’s a sad state of affairs when you think about it, but makes perfect sense in a society that wants everything to come pre-packaged and branded, something they can ‘buy’ into.

    Anyone remember the old days, when you took your ‘Mountain’ bike up to the top of the highest hill or mountain you could find, and then you rode down along sheep trails etc as fast as you could?

    BUT, people come into work asking for a trail bike now! And it keeps me in work and keeps the industry moving forward.

    I live within spitting distance of aston hill, swinley, chicksands and woburn within 50 miles.. i’m pretty well suited..


    90% of people on here would give their right testicle to live in Invenress. There are plenty of great trails close by, both natural and dedictaed. I’m not sure if this is a wind up post or not but you’ve sparked a conversation over on trailscotland as well – http://www.trailscotland.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7544

    You should think yourself lucky, try living in south east Kent!

    howabout organising a minibus and a trailer for a junior MTB club.

    You have a point OP, but it’s not the always the case.

    Most of the Welsh trail centres are rideable from the nearest town – I’m thinking Climachx (Machynllth and Dolgellau), Coed-y-Brenin (Dolgellau), Cwmcarn (Cwmbran) and Afan Argoed (Glyncorrwg).

    Glyncorrwg doesn’t have a railway station and Dolgellau’s was axed by that evil b’stard Beeching, but you can ride there on the old railway track from Morfa Mawddach.

    All in all, there’s a lot of fairly easy access to Welsh trail centres.

    Premier Icon deadkenny

    To be honest, Swinley would be better if it was more remote 😉

    I hate that place 🙂 Been once, never again.

    The nice bits of countryside near towns and cities are taken – golfers got there first. If I was an enterprising golf club I’d build a trail around my permimeter. Unfortunately few people hate cyclists more than golfers. Whty we spend so much time trying to ape their cars and dress sense I’m never quite sure…


    Haldon’s easy enough to get to from Exeter.


    Two years ago Northern Ireland didn’t have any trail centres. Now we have 3 decent ones, 3 others and at least one more starting shortly. Closest one worth going to is over an hour away by car but i’ve just learned that they are looking to build something in my local forest which is only 6 miles from my house. What was the question again?


    Firstly folks Scotland is not actually massive mountains right on everyones doorstep.

    We have flat areas and towns and citys and everything.

    But I accept we are lucky to have decent rides within 2 hours of our houses.

    So I have two observations, if you have to drive 2 hours to a trail centre. get up early and make a whole day of it. Of course it’s too far if you only get up at 10am!!!!

    Secondly there are loads of trails near you and the best way to find them is either to join a local mountain bike club (plus they might become friends who’d give you a lift to a trail centre). Or ask the young lads at your local bike shop.

    I just bought a bike from Alpine Bikes in Aberdeen and the lad (sorry didn’t catch your name!) was brilliant telling me all about his favorite local trails which were more techy and challenging than a trail centre anyway.


    I rarely post…but I think this post must be a joke…or please re read and have a word with yourself, you can ride other than in a trail centre!

    I love trail centres and my nearest is 2 hours away, but my favorite riding is in the woods/exploring just outside town with mates, has been since I started riding 15 odd years ago

    I regularly work just outside Inverness and would love to ride out there – looks awesome

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