The Tweed Valley Trail Association Collaborates With BASE College for Trail Work

Apr 5, 2022
by DMBinS DMBinS  

Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE) is a sports performance and coaching qualification based around mountain biking. The BASE course is delivered through a partnership between Borders College and Dirt School. It has helped support and develop some of the sports elite riders. Including 2020 Downhill World Champion Reece Wilson, Lewis Buchanan, Greg Williamson, Luke Cryer and Polly Henderson.

The collaboration between the Tweed Valley Trail Association (TVTA) and BASE was born in the hopes of upskilling and educating the young, aspiring riders. Getting them involved in looking after facilities they benefit from is a key aim of this concept; younger riders are generally under-represented on public dig days lead-out by the TVTA.

DMBinS approached BASE tutor and Dirt School coach Andy Barlow to put this proposition forward. Following on from that TVTA suggested to Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) benefits of having young riders on board such as those who are involved with the BASE course. For their part FLS were keen to intercept the next generation of guerrilla trail builders and connect them with a legitimate and progressive trail organisation.


The team launched the first dig day on the 17th of March. The day began with a meet and greet at the bottom of the trail, having closed off the trail and transported tools up there earlier in the morning.

Introduction to the day and safety brief. Dig day leader Marc Crowley relayed to the group what they were trying to achieve is to make a trail better than when they started. So what defines better?
• Safety – Removing unnecessary hazards, it’s not about sanitising the trail to reduce the challenge of the trail.
• Sustainability – Managing water/drainage, trail wear and by removing rotten wood used to build features
• Fun - Making sections flow better, opening up line choice for the riders, etc.


Marc continues the days events from here:

"We climbed the trail and stopped to discuss observations, discussed why certain things were issues and others were not. What would the remedial action be, potential hazards doing it, method and tools required. I took the opportunity to demonstrate the hazards posed by standing dead wood adjacent to the trail; Slowly tipping a dead tree, then once sufficiently leant over, jerked it at which point the top third snapped off and javelined the ground below. The BASE Students increased their competency the further we climbed, identifying unnecessary hazards and suggesting how we could tackle them on the way back down the trail.

Upon reaching the top we had a Tool Talk – One thing COVID has done for us is made people more aware of social distancing, something important when swinging a mattock, small wins, small wins!"




Through a series of 'Describe then Demo' on various tasks and tools we proceeded down the trail. As the students tried and were verified as competent we split into 3 teams, supervised by Innes and Fi from Dirt School.

By the time we reached the trail finish the team had addressed:
• Standing Deadwood with weak tops, hung up trees leaning towards the trail.
• Rebuilt rotting trail feature using rock.
• Tidied up berms
• Cut down/Removed stumps
• Snedding/cleared sight lines
• Water management and drainage

Not bad for 11 Students and their 2 Leaders on their first dig!

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Photos by: Innes Graham

Posted In:
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Author Info:
DMBinS avatar

Member since Feb 7, 2019
11 articles

  • 2 2
 And guess what they use to carry their tools #Ebikes
  • 2 0
 Apparently they used multi fuel jeeps being powered by used deep fried mars bar oil.

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