Carron Valley Project

The Carron Valley MTB trails are a community project providing an extremely useful forestry single track destination for mountain bikers to the east of Glasgow, where a consortium has raised sufficient funds to extend the trails. I’ve never ridden the trails but they’re on my to do list next time I head north of the border. The reason for this post is to highlight that the issues that have put the future of the project at risk are actually a bit more complex than reports elsewhere might indicate.

The IMBA-UK website states:

Sadly, issues revolving around the project have delayed the initiative and jeopardised the funding, and have led to a meeting between the project organisers, local councils and the Scottish Executive to resolve these problems. But progress continues to be slow, and IMBA’s new Scottish coordinator Kenny Wilson has now offered IMBA’s services in an attempt to get the project back on track. IMBA reckons that the difficulties can be sorted, and we have approached the Forestry Commission with suggestions which it is hoped will lead to a successful conclusion.

Now to understand my concerns you have to appreciate that the Forestry Commision (FC) Mountain Bike Tsar and the IMBA-UK Chairman are the same person – Karl Bartlett. The committee roles section of the IMBA-UK website doesn’t explicitly state that the role of the Chairman is to “work to create new trails, and keep trails and public access open for mountain biking by encouraging responsible riding, supporting volunteer trail work and cooperating with other trail user groups, land managers and public bodies”, but given that it’s one of the organisation’s core Mission Aims it’s implied that he is responsible for facilitating all of these aims.

In 2002 Bartlett who was formerly a FC Ranger at Mabie Forest was charged with turning the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway into a mecca for mountain bikers. Since the work on the 7Stanes his responsibilities appear to have been extended to a Scotland as a whole. This has involved producing reports on various initiatives like the Carron Valley Development Project (CVDP), identifying issues and making recommendations on how trail building groups should proceed and approving permits for groups to work in FC estates.

In theory this could give IMBA-UK and excellent insight into the way the FC operates and a unique leverage mechanism to promote mountain biking and trail building and maintenance. The current situation leads to one person with two important roles that have divergent interests at times. This generates the potential for serious conflicts of interest and this appears to be exactly what has happened, leading to a farcical state of affairs as reported in September.

The question is two months on, are things getting any better?

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

3 thoughts on “Carron Valley Project”

  1. IMBA has scored an own goal with this appointment. Such is the level of hero worship that has built up around the Forestry Commission / MTB phenomena it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone in IMBA there is a clear conflict of interest.

    As for things getting any better at Caron Valley, the articles in the press are only the tip of the iceberg. The long term future of the project is probably best served by the Scottish Government conducting a thorough and independent review.


  2. Agree with Heather…… IMBA now the mouth piece of FCS????? Time for the Scottish Government to flex its power and sort this mess out, FCS is full of individuals who try to protect themselves at any cost. Revolution is not required just a clean out of deadwood eg Insley, Stevenson and Bartlet!!


  3. I’m sure that getting some MSPs on board to help represent your experiences at the Scottish Parliament will help push things forward with some proper backing, This local initiative seems to have been attracting the kind of attention that has meant that rather than being managed locally it is being seen as a facet of a broader plan for development which may be counterproductive to the aims of the CVDP.
    Rebuilding relationships might well be the way forward, but by the sounds of it, the volunteers who are getting out there in all weather to put in some hard graft are understandably wary of putting too much trust in FC after events to date. IMBA should be backing you up to the hilt, but the conflict of interest within the executive committee maybe undermining the support. It sounds like you need some one like Jenn Dice to help…


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