Bailies of Bennachie Release Policy Statement on Mountain Biking on the Hill

October 2020

The Bailies have released a new high-level policy statement in relation to mountain biking on the hill. The statement is in full below. Any comments are welcome as are any volunteers to work with our small group looking at this issue.

We have recognised the rapid increase in popularity of Mountain Biking on the hill over the last few years. More Mountain Bikers have been enjoying the area all year round and more trails are being built, registered and shared online, for others to discover and challenge themselves against.

Several routes, highlighted in apps such as Trailforks, include waymarked footpaths, maintained by Forestry and Land Scotland with the help of work parties from the Bailies of Bennachie, many others include unofficial or ‘wild’ MTB trails; i.e. trails established without the permission or knowledge of the landowner or manager, some of which may be potentially damaging to the hill and/or unsafe to its users.

Bennachie is a relatively compact area with an increasingly dense network of trails, and its environs, including natural wildlife (several rare and protected species), historical and cultural-heritage features of public interest (preservation of which comprise the main objectives of the Bailies), are susceptible to irreparable damage, if key stakeholders fail to work and look after them together.

Bennachie is enjoyed every day by a wide variety of user-groups, from Families young and old, educational and special interest groups, dog walkers, trail runners, horse riders and of course cyclists. The risk of conflict between different groups can at times be real and safety is a growing concern, where unofficial trails exit onto/cross over waymarked routes, and/or on trails used heavily by everyone, e.g. the section between Mither Tap and Rowantree Car Park (Maiden’s Causeway).

At the core of Mountain Biking in Aberdeenshire is a socially and environmentally responsible community. Far from wishing to deter this, the exciting sport and all the benefits it delivers, Mountain Biking on the hill is embraced by the Bailies, many of whom are keen cyclists and Mountain Bikers themselves.

The Bailies of Bennachie will make every effort to promote and encourage responsible and sustainable use of the hill by all user groups. We are committed to working with key stakeholders (e.g. Land Owners, Forest and Land Scotland, Bennachie Centre Trust, Trail Builders, Mountain Bikers themselves and other strategic groups) to ensure that potential conflict between groups is minimised, wildlife and heritage features are left undisturbed and Bennachie is protected and preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

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