Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 47 total)
  • GT & Inners XC Trail Deterioration…
  • crimsondynamo
    Free Member

    Do any tweed valley locals know if the old red/black trails will get any maintenance anytime soon? I was at GT today and it was as deteriorated as I’ve seen it. I was at Inners late last year and the XC red looked to all intents abandoned.

    No judgement, I appreciate the last few years have been stormy, money is tight, and no doubt lots of local politics. I just loved these old trails and wondering whether they’ll ever be restored to former glory?

    1
    Northwind
    Full Member

    I don’t think anyone outside of the FC really knows. There’s apparently moves afoot to get the trailfairies going again which would be a big help. Even just getting stuff back open again after this winter is going to be a big deal though, it’s been one of the worst in years for deadfall and wind damage and that’s soaked up resources and money, still is. And some stuff just isn’t going to reopen, most likely. Like, I can’t see mushroom pie reopening unless that tree falls of its own accord.

    The other thing is, GT hasn’t had “normal running” now for absolutely ages, there’s been major disruption at least somewhere on the trails for so long that they can’t have good rider numbers/user levels, it’s all going to be skewed.

    TBH for the most part I love how the stuff at GT is riding right now, it feels like it’s mostly in the “benevolent neglect” phase. But that doesn’t last.

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    steveh
    Full Member

    Feels more like they’ve been barely touched since they went in than just the last few years. Most of the welsh centres feel the same to be honest. The odd little bit of work here or there. Fundamentally money for shiny new projects is relatively easy from various pots, not for ongoing maintenance though.

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    Kramer
    Free Member

    I believe the uplift centres have sucked a lot of the riders and therefore money from the Welsh trail centres?

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    Mugboo
    Full Member

    We were there back in November as a group of lads and again this Easter with the family.

    In Nov we got lucky with a really cold weekend so no standing water and a cracking weekend new, old and off piste trails at GT via the uplift and a day at the Golfie on day 2.

    Easter time we had a dryish day but I made the mistake of warming them up on the Blue’s from the higher drop off point. By the time we got back to the van we were absolutely soaked from the deep puddles on the Blue’s. There is also still a diversion in place for the lasr section of blue due to trees down which has been in place for a long time, certainly since Nov.

    We still had a cracking day but my conclusion is that there are better places to take the family which is damn shame, previously I thought GT had the best Blue outside of a bike park. If I didn’t live in Yorkshire I would go drain the puddles myself.  I appreciate that moving large tree’s is a bit more problematic.

    In contrast we then went and rode Laggan which was an absolute joy for all, especially watching them ride the slab, its  clear that someone is looking after the trails up there.

    Hopefully as Northwind says, the Trailfairies can be restarted and begin to give the place some love.

    I look after some local jumps, dug at Stainburn for years and do lots of other trail stuff so understand the pain/pleasure of volunteering.

    balfa
    Free Member

    I did hear a rumours that there was to be some funding for what’s left of the 7stanes. Some of this was to go into maintenance/revamp of the red. I haven’t heard anything again reccently though!

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    intheborders
    Free Member

    I’d suggest that they’re pretty much no different to the rest of the UK’s infrastructure, do the roads you drive on look/feel better or worse than they did 10 years ago?

    1
    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I’m of the view that as a user I need to contribute to trail centre costs. And those costs are rising.

    As a regular at Comrie we pay parking and donate to the trail fund through the year. I know the money is going back to the trails and I see the maintenance and development.

    With Scottish Forestry I feel that if I did donate it would just vanish into the organisation, not be ring fenced for trails.

    onehundredthidiot
    Full Member

    A lot of money went to the world champs so there’s probably only just funding opening up now.

    3
    hooli
    Full Member

    I get the impression that riding long xc routes has gone out of fashion. People want gnar, jumps and steep stuff with minimal climbing. I guess places spend their limited cash on the trails that draw visitors in and it’s not xc.

    I exclude myself from the above, I love a good xc loop with big views and earning some good descents.

    2
    snotrag
    Full Member

    Innerleithen and Glentress are a particular interesting one – I’m also in Yorkshire, so sort of equidistant between the Borders area and North/Mid Wales.

    Its years (decades!?) since I’ve done the Scotland option, and I have considered going back a number of times in the past 3 years but I keep putting it off – and to be blunt – the reason is that I keep reading on here that its all a bit of a state.

    Its all well and good saying it won’t get repaired if theres no riders, but they ain’t gonna get people riding there if the ‘public opinion’ (whether truthful or not) is that all the trails are f*cked and not to waste your time.

    Meanwhile I keep driving over to Llandegla/CYB/Penmachno semi regularly and never fail to have a good time aswell as pumping some cash into the trail centres, bike shops, cafes and local pubs.

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    munrobiker
    Free Member

    The diversion on the black at the moment is actually really good. I realised last week I’d never ridden the full black before so had a crack at it as it stands now and it’s not quite the long red that people talk about – the diversion descents are pretty hard and one of the climbs is savage. There’s a lot of puddles and stuff that shouldn’t be there though.

    Generally, it doesn’t feel like the flagship built trail in the Tweed Valley. It’s better than just about everything FC I’ve ridden in Wales though.

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    crimsondynamo
    Free Member

    People want gnar, jumps and steep stuff with minimal climbing

    That does strike a chord. Anything less than a trail centre red and I’m on my gravel bike. Anything more than a trail centre black (e.g off-piste mud, roots, steeps etc) is too much for me.

    I appreciate that my window is pretty narrow and that the sport is moving on.

    Gribs
    Full Member

    It’s noticeable that they’ve updated both trail centre maps with the current diversions so it hardly suggests they’re going to be fixed.

    ChrisL
    Full Member

    It kind of feels like the Tweed Valley’s MTB rangers have been on the back foot since Storm Arwen, since then one thing after another seems to have prevented them from doing the sort of regular trail upkeep and maintenance we  all (almost certainly including them) would like to see.

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    DickBarton
    Full Member

    It all costs money – a lot of money…if volunteers can be involved then the costs reduce a wee bit – like many projects, nothing seems to have been planned in for on-going maintenance and upkeep – that isn’t a new issue, but getting funding for it (upkeep and maintenance) has always been the issue (since the outset of trail centres and no doubt long before then as well).

    Absolutely not defending the Forestry, as they seem happy to put all these grand plans in place due to having access to funding to pay for it, but seem very short on plans for the upkeep.

    Hindsight is a very useful thing and from the fringes it is easy to say all this…but having been involved in bits and pieces, all of this chat has been done before multiple times, so clearly learnings aren’t being taken on-board (probably due to the lack of funding avenues to support it all, but if that isn’t factored in, why go ahead with the build in the first place?). I suspect there are many people keen to get things moving and fixing issues, but if the money isn’t there to pay for it then it won’t be happening any time soon.

    julians
    Free Member

    <quote>why go ahead with the build in the first place?<endquote>

    better to have something, even if it isnt maintained long term, than nothing at all.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Maybe…but not ideal when it could be putting people off using the place – lower numbers also impacts what gets money spent on it…it could be that Glentress will start getting the same treatment as the rest of the 7Stanes does.

    stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    Riding at GT last Sunday I didn’t feel like it was noticeably different, a few puddles in Spooky Wood but given the rain we’ve had that’s not surprising. I didn’t know about mushroom pie being closed but there were a couple of trees down that I’m guessing had happened in the previous day or two. One near the ponds and another one further up, can’t remember where. There was also a tree leaning across the new blue trail. Not a big deal but I imagine the to do list has just gotten longer and longer every weekend this winter and that’s probably been the case for a good few years. It’s a shame the trail fairies aren’t on as I might have been sucked back in a couple of years back but I’m not sure I have the capacity for it now.

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    Northwind
    Full Member

    Gribs
    Full Member

    It’s noticeable that they’ve updated both trail centre maps with the current diversions so it hardly suggests they’re going to be fixed.

    I’m not sure what the situation is with falla brae, havcen’t been in there. The boundary trail got properly ****ed up and every storm since then it’s got ****ed up again because it’s right at the forest edge, so as soon as the first row of trees was gone it just kept ripping in. I can’t see it reopening without clearfelling but even then the damage to the trail’s pretty bad in places.

    Five Year Plan which comes off the boundary has had at least 2 new beginnings put onto it since then and then had trees fall on em and it’s become a bit of a nightmare, especially since it’s such a useful race trail. Deliverance is ****ed til it gets clearfelled, but luckily we built Mild Peril which is working perfectly as a diversion.

    But also, the longer term context is that the boundary trail was just in the wrong place, it was a total bollocks to get to on FC land so it’s difficult to maintain, and also not good for medevacs. And that has other implications for stuff like chainsaw working. I remember once Andy went in to do puddling repairs and it was a full day’s work to do about 2 hour’s digging. When we built Five Year Plan the original idea was that it’d replace the boundary but by the time it was halfway done that obviously wasn’t going to work out, we’d made it too hard for that job :) But that’s still got to be in their minds if they’re looking at how to proceed- how much investment do you put into a trail that was already a problem for you?

    I’ve said it before but pretty much every trail in a forest is one bad night away from being closed forever. Middleterm closures are getting away with it lightly, when you keep that in mind, 6 months til felling can be scheduled or til a forestry machine cna get in and do it safely is a lucky escape rather than a long wait.

    But, that obviously doesn’t relate much to puddling, feature breakdown, braiding/lines of desire etc (****in lines of desire). Water management is really the big one, because it accelerates wear so much as well as just making rides unpleasant when they don’t have to be, it’s a fun killer. And it’s not hard to do, it just needs man hours, but they’re unavailable.

    finners
    Full Member

    I’m sure there’s lots of complications and it’s not as clear cut as we’d all like. As others have touched on, maybe 7Stanes is no longer and resources need to be put into 3Stanes. Championing Glentress, which was always the jewel in the crown.

    Although it’s not what I think most on here would prefer to ride, maybe it’s the blue / red commercial trails that need sorted first. From spooky wood all the way down to the cafe. Linking the new “Worlds” trail. Bring in the people and slowly build from there. I’m sure more people would go if there was good news around trails fully open and it worth their trip to the centre.

    I used to go more regularly but it seemed more justifiable going when you were almost guaranteed a day’s riding.

    I imagine the closure of the Buzzards nest and the proximity impact has stopped those who liked to “session’ down from spooky woods.

    Is GO Ape still closed? Another impact to revenue.

    Would seem a waste with all the investment for the World’s to go to waste.

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    didnthurt
    Full Member

    I’ve ridden Glenlivet and Tarland over the last couple of days and they are head and shoulders above Glentress and Innerlethen in respects to accessibility, trail quality and just plain fun.

    I know that Inners and Glentress are something like 25 years old and the two trail centres I’ve mentioned above are much younger (very young in Tarlands case) but I’d like to see the red trails at both Inners and Glentress being brought back to their best.

    Note:- it just goes to show how good Inners and Glentress red routes were built to even be ridable after all these years. Big love for them both ♥️♥️

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    tourismo
    Full Member

    Will be interesting to see how well maintained the new trails are at GT. Already a lot of braking bumps in some areas and it’s only going to get more wear if/when the weather improves and we see more numbers visiting. I also think GT is missing a decent green loop for families since the storm damaged the upper one. Saw lots of families there over Easter but there doesn’t seem to be much for smaller kids or complete novices.

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    airvent
    Free Member

    I think sadly ‘trail centres’ have been exposed as a bit of a failed experiment. The usual issue this country has of capital being easier to raise than revenue means that they can’t self-sustain and a decline in people who ride those kind of cross country trails in favour of uplift type centres means there’s very little desire to throw funding at them.

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    Northwind
    Full Member

    @airvent, tbh that just seems a pretty absurd statement to me. Trail centres are still massively popular, they’re brilliant especially for kids and getting riders into the sport. It could be going better but that’s not a failure of the trailcentre concept, it’s really just down to two things- the way that it’s easier to get funds for new stuff than to maintain old stuff, and the fact that while trail centres for the most part make a load of money, they don’t make it for the operators. Neither of those is in the hands of the trail centre operators, other than parking to some extent which everyone whinges about.

    The trouble is they’re almost too succcesful- they’re golden geese for councils and local businesses that can be ignored completely for decades at a time.

    tourismo
    Full Member

    I also think GT is missing a decent green loop for families since the storm damaged the upper one.

    I was surprised about this but the upper green’s getting reopened apparently. I think possibly just one of those coincidences of harvesting timing.

    airvent
    Free Member

    Haven’t you more or less just said the same thing I have?

    Mugboo
    Full Member

    It does cost a lot of money to build new trail well or completly renew old sections. It doesn’t cost much in the scheme of things to allow and encourage a small team of volunteers to drain puddles and patch dangerous area’s, and the job has shrunk a little with the harder to reach parts out of action.

    Obviously, finding that group of volunteers isn’t always that easy but the amount of experience in the valley must be huge. Hopefully, once the current works are out of the way, this will sort itself out.

    1
    stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    The decline of the trail fairies started many years ago, somebody else will remember more precisely when it started but reducing the frequency of the sessions really affected productivity. If I remember correctly it went from half day sessions every Saturday to full day sessions fortnightly. Numbers attending may have been in decline before then but that had a definite impact. It was easy to turn up on a random Saturday, you didn’t need to find out if a session was and it became a habit for a lot of people. Switching to fortnightly broke that habit. The half day sessions generally lasted more than half a day and the full day sessions weren’t really a full day. So you had less hours on the hill and fewer people turning up. I reckon peak fairy was when we built the pie run and mushroom pie, people were really invested in creating new trails. Enthusiasm suffered when the most weeks were brashing and de-berming. Then you had Enduro kicking off and some people were busy creating and riding those trails and that is now a huge part of the scene in the valley. I think you’d now struggle to get people to come back to doing fairly mundane stuff at GT.

    hooli
    Full Member

    I was thinking about this a bit more and I would have thought with e-bikes getting more popular, the xc loops would get more use as the long draggy climbs wouldn’t be such an issue, especially as more middle aged blokes are ending up on e-bikes now and I’d assume those were the same people using the xc trails a decade or so ago.

    As a side note, Inners is more than just draining puddles, the diversion has 2 or 3 pretty large trees down blocking the fire road. That needs forestry with chain saws and some moving equipment.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    Llandegla seems to work on many levels

    From memory they are were the first or possibly only private trail centre.

    I went on the 28th December and got a real sense that it was run as one joined up business and everyone was trying to make it work. I think they charged for parking plus £3 extra rider. On my visits they had got a team out to clear some smaller downed trees that morning. Good cafe and bike shop. Of course they are much closer to bin populations than some trail centres. Oh and on a windy wet day in December i was far from the only person who wanted to ride a loop

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    Northwind
    Full Member

    airvent
    Free Member

    Haven’t you more or less just said the same thing I have?

    I guess, if you ignore the bit where you were saying they’re a failure and I was saying that’s completely false?

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    mc
    Free Member

    The major issue with the 7 stanes has been a lack of resources.

    The entire east region (Newcastleton across to Inners) has only had one and half dedicated trail rangers for the past several years. Combine that with numerous storms, the GT Masterplan, Forest Lodges, the world champs, and felling work, it’s left very little man hours to handle much else than essential work. There’s also a current issue with a lack of chainsaw operators to deal with wind blow (The change of structure from FCS to FLS, means trail rangers are no longer allowed to operate chainsaws, so all chainsaw work has to be referred to forest operations)

    The success of the master plan (aka increased car parking revenue) means there is now another trail ranger being trained, and there is a contract and budget in place for targeted maintenance with an external company.

    I’m currently involved in some event trail work there, and I do think the outlook is looking the best it’s done for a few years, however it’s going to take time.

    Deliverance is due to be felled in the coming months, and there is hope that it’ll be easily salvageable once the wind blow is off it.

    Boundary trail has pretty much been written off beyond 5 Year Plan. There’s too much wind blow to consider clearing just the trail, and forest operations have no current plan to fell that block. Once it does get cleared, if there was to be a trail put back in, it would likely be a new build.

    There are some concerns over how the new trails will hold up, especially the as dug ones if we get prolonged dry weather. However there is a maintenance plan in place, but I think those involved are waiting to see how they hold up before doing anything.

    And Trailfairies should be starting again soon, with a project to improve the entrance to one of the off-piste trails.

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    mashr
    Full Member

    I was surprised about this but the upper green’s getting reopened apparently. I think possibly just one of those coincidences of harvesting timing.

    That’ll be handy for the folk staying in the lodges, otherwise it’s a long way from the bottom car park to drag kids just getting into riding

    a11y
    Full Member

    I’m not a Tweed valley local but over the past 18 months have restarted visiting GT with young family. Less fun than I remember and most of that’s down to the (already mentioned) puddles and braking bumps. Generally a feeling of neglect: clearly significant investment in the new trails (which have little appeal to me – not my style) and car park etc, but it felt like the original trails have been forgotten about. Still a fun place to visit as a family despite the puddles, but now not my first choice for a fun ride without the family.

    Visited/stayed in the GT camping pods first week of the Easter hols. Tragic weather most days which meant we got soaked anyway, but the effing puddles on the trails didn’t help. My trailing foot was always soaked through well before my leading foot, purely down to splash from the puddles.

    I rode the original black route and best parts by a significant margin were the two diversions.

    richmtb
    Full Member

    Funnily enough I was at Inners yesterday and did the XC route for the first time in years.

    The diversions on that route were pretty much the diversions I take anyway. Plora Craig being shut for so long is a shame but Angry Sheep is a fine diversion.  It did feel a bit unloved in places, but its also remarkable how well the trail has held up, there were only a few spots that needed obvious repair.

    Overall the place was really busy though.  Car park full, uplift full.

    stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    Coincidentally I also did Inners xc yesterday. There’s really not a lot to recommend it now. A lot of the best features of the original trail are no longer available and I wonder if they would be as well writing it off.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Was there on Saturday with a group of kids and parents. They enjoyed the taster stuff on the new bits, but wanted to do the blue, so up we climbed…and climbed…and climbed. I enjoyed the climb (after the Buzzards Building Site) as it is properly worn and eroded and good fun (although I’m not fast)…however, it did seem to put the newer riders off.

    We did the Blue and all got utterly soaked as every dip seemed to have puddles in it, but it was enjoyable. Got back to the Buzzard’s Building Site and got a right reek of the diesel generator – which then lingered down through the trail for 300 yards or so.

    Absolute night and day difference between the new stuff at the bottom and the stuff that has been left to it’s own devices. Although both sets of trails were showing signs of erosion – got to the cafe (where we waited 15 minutes to be served, then waited 20 minutes for the toastie to be put on the grill – despite the grill not being used for those 20 minutes and the person who made it standing at the take away waiting for somethign to do!) and everyone said they prefered the older stuff to the new ‘motorway-type’ stuff at the bottom – they didn’t like the climb as all said it was far too long.

    Not a large group of riders to get any real solid opinion from, but they were all newish riders and all thought the older blue was more enjoyable, but the length of the climb meant they wouldn’t be rushing back.

    I’ve yet to try the new trails, having just managed to do the tasters, but from those, they aren’t for me as they seem to be motorways. They are good fun, but I wouldn’t be looking to spend a day riding that kind of stuff. I’m aware trails at trail centres are changing, but I’m also aware they are changing to something I’m willing to take or quite happily leave. There is appeal, but I clealy need to expand my riding circle as I haven’t found many that prefer the new ‘flow’ stuff.

    Also – why do ebikers not say hi? Loads of them on the trails, but less than a handful actually said hi as we passed them or they passed us…was quite odd as some of the kids asked me why the ebikers didn’t speak much!

    Right, got that moan off my chest…it was an enjoyable day on the bikes at Glentress, but was more the company rather than the quality of the trails – won’t make much odds to anyone else, but I’m not sure the trails are worth the 1 hour 20 minute drive for me these days (clearly I’ve grown grumpy!).

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    munrobiker
    Free Member

    It really isn’t as bad as all that. It’s still Glentress, it’s still fun.

    The Forest Lodges are a disgrace though (private people making money out of a public space to the detriment of others always is).

    I am curious when the true replacement for the freeride park will open. The new stuff is really good fun for me but you can’t session it like the old stuff because the climb back up is so long. It’s certainly not just over a minute like the old freeride park.

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    Great to hear that Trailfairies are coming back- I’ll try to make time to put in some effort!

    I have heard about the maintenance plan being put in place but the numbers going around seem like a drop in the ocean.

    I’ve asked FLS several times about schedule for finishing/repairing the lower taster trails and the replacement skills area, but there’s absolutely no info coming back. I’m sadly beginning to suspect that the budget for it has been spent already…

    Northwind
    Full Member

    @mtnboarder, as far as I can see the ends of the testers are all repaired and have had some tweaks on top of that, I <think> they’re just keeping them closed to season the repairs a bit. (the actual damage that caused the closures was really localised, if similar had happened to an old trail it’d have been a quick fix)

    munrobiker
    Free Member

    I am curious when the true replacement for the freeride park will open.

    There isn’t going to be one, it’s all incorporated into the tasters. The climb up to the red and blue tasters is quick tbh, probably about as fast as riding up the full freeride by the road? Just not as fast as pushing up just the first set of jumps like everyone used to do (but then loads of people are sessioning and pushing up the red taster jumps)

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