Updated: Apr 1, 2022
So, with the spotlight on Aberdeenshire this week (man, we are lucky to live where we do!!), we were asked if we would share a blog about who we are and what we are up to at the moment. So, if you wanna know a bit more, grab a cuppa and have a read.
Aberdeenshire Trail Association was first formed in 2018, with support from DMBinS. We set out with the vision to increase the quality and sustainability of the region’s mountain bike trail network. Since forming, we have worked hard to develop strong working relationships with landowners so we can carry our trail maintenance sessions on our trails.
The ATA has recently had a bit of a shift in our structure; we now have a core committee group who oversee the planning, development, landowner liaison, communications, and finance. Then we also have 5 trail leads who are responsible for surveying and planning the work scope and the running of the dig days.
We currently have works and agreements within: Pitfichie, Ballater, Aboyne and Tarland, and support Gravitate to run their magic at Durris. Our work varies within these forests, and we hope we can broaden our work going forward with the community support we are seeing. Essentially - we can only work where there is community and landowner by-in. Therefore, the local volunteers can step in and adopt and manage their trails, with support and resources via the ATA.
We are all volunteers, all riders and all keen supporters of growing Aberdeenshire’s trail network. Currently, we do not have any paid posts, and therefore from the committee members to dig day grafters, we are all just giving what we can to help the trails.
We have a strong group of volunteers but see new faces at each trail day and are always keen to have as many people join us as possible. The more local riders that contribute to the maintenance of a trail, mean the trails have variety and are claimed by the public, not just a few. It’s great to see how a trail develops and evolves over time when we overcome the changing issues presented by mother nature or riders. We have great mix of volunteers and large female presence on the squad at digs days. We have been able to hold all-female dig days that have seen some serious graft put in. These have offered a friendly environment to come see what it’s all about and then join future digs.
As part of best practice, learning what works and developing- we link-in with other trail associations and share and gain knowledge. A small group of our members attended a dig day with Tayside Trail Association last year to help them put in a stretch of trail. We also were able to meet up with Tweed Valley Trails Association members following the storms to discuss the difficulties and processes.
Recently, we have been up against it given the damage caused by the storms. We lost about 80% of our trail network and the recovery process is intense. We have been involved in significant ‘behind the scenes’ work including working with landowners, chainsaw teams, sorting out funding for works, surveys, meetings-upon-meetings and it has been a mammoth task. However, I think we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the public support has been amazing.
Looking forward; although the storms done us a good one, we are positive that good things are coming. We are seeing more landowners and forest users viewing this as an opportunity and developing avenues to work together.
Recently, we have seen the design and development of a new trail within Birse Forest in Aboyne. We were able to approach the landowners; Birse Community Trust, with success, about building a new trail to further develop the trail network. DMBinS and NEAT offered support and funding to get the project off the ground and CRC, (who have previously worked on Glenlivet trails and the new climb at The Golfie), were contracted to do the work. They have shown they have the knowledge and skills to lay down a trail that is sure to make you smile, whether you are rolling, pumping or jumping. The new blue trail “Relish” will sit along side it’s pal “Chutney” within Birse Woodland and couldn’t have been done without the support from Birse Community Trust, who understand the benefits of supporting trails and the value they bring to the wider community of Aboyne.
Finally, I guess, what’s next for us? Well, as mentioned, we have changed our structure slightly so we are hoping that in the coming months, this will allow space to push some projects forward whilst also giving the time and effort to the current projects we have rolling.
We still have some storm recovery projects in the planning process with support landowners, DMBinS and NEAT. We are keen to open some trails in the forests that are still hidden under trees, so watch this space and be sure to book your spot on any dig days.
We have a social ride on 10th April, 10am The Boat in Aboyne. We feel that it’s about time to lay down the tools and ride our bikes for the day. There has been so much public support for all projects that have taken place over the last couple years, and it would be good to see your faces as we ride Aboyne trails, all welcome and you can choose what trails to ride, at your pace. If in doubt- we will see you at The Boat for a pint after!
Well, that’s the first ‘blog’ down, hope it offered a little insight into what we do but we couldn’t end without saying a big THANKS -your support does not go unnoticed. From the volunteer hours, comments and shares on the socials, buying merchandise and donations to the cause through money tins, trail forks, and paypal- you are all heroes!!!