COME AND GET DIRTY!
IT CAN BE A TRULY BOGGIN' AFFAIR
kneeling in the sludge with midges in your face and rain dripping down your neck, whilst trying to place a few boulders...
But it's not always like this! Some days we're out there on the hill, under blue skies, enjoying the craic of the lads whilst working away on the trails. It really is a great way to put something back into our local landscape - create a better place to do the sport and recreation we all love, develop an awareness of how to protect the environment and ultimately secure Balquhidder as great location in the National Park for future generations of locals and visitors to enjoy.
On this page we share how we go about all our trail building and maintenance activities...
UNDERSTANDING TRAIL BUILDING
Creating and maintaining quality, hand-crafted, natural trails that are both safe for multi-use, and will stand the test of time, requires a lot more than clearing a few sticks off an old hill path, or interesting line.
If the trail is designed to be safe for multi-use, including mountain bikers, it must have clear line of sight, no dangerous surprises and some degree of flow. Critical to the routing is the need to keep other trail users safe, so where trails cross or emerge onto up-tracks that will have slow moving walkers, horses or bikes, there must be a means to slow speed of the descender and ensure they have clear line of sight of other users.
Whilst line is the first major consideration, surface material is equally important.
If a trail is routed across soft or flat ground, or water drainage has not been considered, within a very short time, once the surface vegetation is worn away from boots or tyres, the soft black soil beneath will soon become a mud-fest of sludge with ever-deepening wet holes.
As a trail group we therefore find ourselves spending a significant amount of time sorting the surface of older paths, draining, repairing and reinforcing the trail surface as necessary. It's a time consuming process that requires patience and persistence, and in some very wet and boggy sections, we simply have to resort to re-routing the trail to higher, more robust ground.
Either way, making an old boggy trail dry, robust and enjoyable for everyone is hugely rewarding!
WANT TO JOIN IN?
We're a pretty friendly bunch, so if you want to come along and get involved in trail building CLICK HERE TO LET US KNOW.
Once we get your details we'll add you into the Balquhidder Trail Crew and our WhatsApp group where you'll see who's heading out, what their doing, and when.
If you haven't done much trail building before it doesn't matter. We welcome any willing and keen individuals who just want to get stuck in.
To find out a more about our trail building principles scroll down or, if you're interested in our longer term plans, take a look at our 3yr DEVELOPMENT PLAN in the footer.
trackING & REPAIRING trail issues
Though Balquhidder offers only unmanaged wild and natural trails used under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, the trail crew strives to keep the trails as safe as possible at all times and deal with trail maintenance needs as issues arise.
To achieve this we need:-
Eyes on the ground and regular trail inspections to identify hazards and issues.
A quick and efficient response mechanism to allow us to assess the risk to users and then organise remedial work.
We recognise that daily trail users are the best and most regular "eyes on the trail" and represent the best source of up to date information on trail conditions. For this reason we have a simple online TRAIL ISSUE REPORTING FORM that allows anyone to submit details of a trail issue or hazard using any mobile device.
All reported issues and hazards display in our real-time TRAIL ISSUES + HAZARDS REPORT which we use to trigger a visit to assess the section concerned and plan necessary repairs.
TRACKING COMPLETED WORK
We also log all trail work conducted, which then not only helps us analyse the work done on each trail over time, but also record, recognise and acknowledge the significant number of volunteer hours that go into keeping the trails safe.
The log also serves as a means to track volunteer time for those doing either their Duke of Edinburgh or Trailbuilder Awards.
BTC 10 Trail Building Commandments
Over the years, from hard-learned lessons, we have established principles that now underpin all our activity. This means that we not only build trails and features that will last, but we also comply with trail building best practice laid down by DMBinS and any conditions determined by our land owner permissions.
Here are what we call our 10 trail building commandments that guide all our work! If you come and join us this will keep you straight...
STRUCTURED + ORGANISED APPROACH: All trail work should be conducted in organised groups and be led by one of the BTC lead trail builders. All volunteers should be briefed before each session in line with the BTC crew briefing. Work should only take place in the designated areas set out by the association.
CLOSE AREAS UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Work parties should close off sections where maintenance or construction work is in progress that might pose a risk to users.
ACCESSIBLE TO ALL: All trails should be built to be ridable by intermediate levels of rider. If there are any really challenging sections ensure there are easier "bypass" routes. Ideally ensure there is a feature at the start of each trail that indicates the general level of technicality expected, so there are no surprises for users.
DRAINAGE: All trails surfaces should be graded to slope downwards or outwards by at least 5-10 degrees to promote water run-off, avoiding flat spots that will quickly form puddles. At regular intervals and hollows dig in off-let channels to remove water from the trail.
ARMOURING: Where ground soft the top 4-6 inches of black top soil (which turns to sludge in the wet) should be removed to get down to harder-wearing brown or grey base base/mineral soil. The surface should then be armoured with a layer of stone and natural rubble mixed with base soil so it can withstand tyre wear and water erosion.
ROUTING: If it is not possible to strengthen or bridge soft and boggy ground, the section should be re-routed onto higher, drier ground.
HAND TOOLS & NATURAL MATERIALS ONLY: Only hand tools are permitted. Only natural materials. e.g. fallen logs, stones and base soil can be used. Trail builders are also NOT permitted to fabricate anything using planks of wood, screws or nails. These are un-natural and eventually rot and become a hazard. Nails and screws are hazardous to wildlife, people and tyres.
LEAVE NO TRACE: Finished trail work should not leave a messy scar with un-natural looking debris scattered across the landscape. Trail builders should take time to "naturalise" fresh trail work so that it look completely natural in its environment.
ONGOING INSPECTIONS: As a minimum trails should be fully and thoroughly inspected monthly and any hazards or issues reported to focus and prioritise work for future trail building sessions.
ONGOING MAINTENANCE: Trail surfaces should be clear of any debris and any litter collected. Verges should be maintained in summer, trimming back branches, bracken or overgrowth to provide a clear line of sight and good visibility. This is particularly important on the inside of corners and on approaches to intersections.
BECOME A MASTER TRAILBUILDER
OUR TRAIL WORK GALLERIES
Click the images below to open facebook albums of the the progression on some of the trails.