If you’re a rider or builder of the unofficial trails of the Tweed Valley then you need to read this!
This week Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) published a usage plan for the Tweed Valley Forests and it is the most important mountain bike related statement they have issued in years.
The plan and accompanying zoning map is an attempt to balance the needs of the various user groups with the increased people pressure we find ourselves under as tourism in the area grows and to create a set of spaces which minimise the friction between walkers, horse riders and cyclists, hopefully for the good of all.
Crucially, from a riders point of view, the zones formally allocate space to the unofficial trail network, something which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. There are a few areas where some limited closures are likely to occur, with one small part of Thornilee and a section of Cademuir zoned out to create quiet space for walkers. Any new unofficial trails at Glentress are now formally off the cards, but overall the majority of the riding here will continue unaffected, and the scope for adoption by volunteer groups within the accepted zones continues to grow.
Obviously, the right to roam isn’t affected, but mountain bike specific trails won’t exist where the preferred user group is not cyclists.
Overall we think the zones planned are a really fair compromise - we understand that with the growing rider numbers, bike trails can’t be in every corner of every forest, and with most of the main off-piste areas protected it seems like our community gets a decent deal. We also think that giving everyone a clear picture of where the no-go zones are is a great way to avoid future closures, user clashes, and wasted building effort, and hope the riding and building community sees this the same way.
Have a read, study the map and then go ride your bike and be glad we are lucky enough to live in an area where the land manager is trying this hard to find a way to keep us all out there and allowing the sport to develop.
If you have feedback you’d like us to pass back to FLS on your behalf then please do let us know, it’s our job to be your voice.