Relish Trail, Birse
This project was to create a community-driven natural trail focused on less experienced riders. We wanted to create a trail with a low entry barrier but also a trail experienced riders could shred.
As part of the more extensive development of Den of Maidencraig Nature Reserve, CRC upgraded the site’s existing tarmac and paths to set up better links between schools and local communities and enhance the area’s environmental amenity.
The team got to work upgrading 1km of existing whin dust core path by widening, resurfacing and installing new topside drainage with culverts. This required approximately 800 cubic metres of earthworks to create the wider path tray and drainage along a side slope.
Existing paved paths were also upgraded, including the 700 square metre Bressony Path where we removed old tar, kerbed edges, resurfaced the path with two new layers of asphalt and added topside drainage and culverts. The even larger Skene Road Path, measuring 1,350 square metres, was treated to a power wash and an application of tack coat before new asphalt surfacing was laid.
We deployed our own plant as the prime machinery on site as it has a much higher specification than standard equipment. All excavators have Engcon tilt rotator units attached which allow the excavators' buckets to be tilted 40 degrees in both directions and continuously rotated. Though more expensive initially, these units reduce the need to reposition the machine tracks by such a significant amount that the cost is easily made back through saved time.
To ensure the safety of future path users, we installed road markings on the paths at junctions and supplied and installed a bespoke waymarker system.
Beyond the paths, we designed and constructed a 20-square-metre dipping platform so visitors can get closer to the abundance of aquatic life at Maidencraig and do so safely. We also installed a 15-square-metre viewing platform with a commanding view of the reserve. Both structures were built entirely from recycled plastic, and during construction, our team worked hard to implement strict pollution controls and habitat protection measures to avoid disturbing the reserve’s wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife, the team also erected a naturally-curved, 2m high Sand Martin wall backfilled with compacted sand. The holes drilled into the wall provide a habitat for the area’s sand martin population, and it is rendered with K Rend sand colour to mimic the bird’s natural environment.
Further work included replacing 19 damaged street light columns and lanterns with 5m folding aluminium columns and LED lanterns - a task which required 800 linear metres of new cable and ducting to be laid and connected. We also supplied and installed three traffic counters which involved strategic cuts and reinstatement in the tar to lay the required sensors, as well as installing a column at each of the three sites.
Being within a popular, environmentally-sensitive nature reserve, we were faced with a wide variety of challenges to overcome.
The first hurdle was public access. Due to the path works mainly running through a school route, it was not possible to shut the site down for the duration of the works. However, we are highly experienced at completing projects in locations where public access must be maintained. By programming works and deliveries around the main commuting times, we were able to pause during busy periods to keep path users safe. We also maintained pedestrian access throughout the project using temporary diversions, signage and experienced Banksmen.
Unfortunately, the site was a known risk for arson and vandalism. We, therefore, parked all machinery within a central compound and locked tools in containers when not on-site. Even with these protection measures, we still had to deal with a few broken plant windows during the project. To overcome this, window guards were installed on the plant cabs.
Throughout any project, protecting the natural environment is a priority. As the site's surrounding nature reserve includes woodland, flood plain and wetland areas where a variety of wildlife and plants live, we had to minimise the disturbance to natural habitats and improve the site for wildlife as well as pedestrian users.
We implemented environmental protection measures to minimise the risk of pollution and disturbance to wildlife. All vegetation clearance was undertaken outwith the bird nesting season and working hours were agreed with the client in advance to avoid disturbing local wildlife. All plant used throughout the project carried a spill kit, and operatives were regularly briefed through toolbox talks on the importance of habitat protection, with plant movements kept to the work area footprints. We also laid oil booms across the stream that runs through the site and implemented silt control measures to prevent run-off into the stream.
Beyond the regular challenges, there was one seismic shift we could not have foreseen. Starting in February 2020, the project was unfortunately interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdowns. This halted progress for around three months and caused significant delays in the supply chain.
For security reasons, we had to demobilise from the site. However, in an attempt to mitigate the effect on the supply of materials to the site, we continued to procure items such as benches, signs and street lights, etc. during the lockdown period, having them delivered to our yard, so they were ready to be installed on our return to the site.
As the work area had to be left unsupervised, we kept in regular communication with the client throughout lockdown to ensure that the site was kept in a safe condition. When we were allowed to return, we (in consultation with a third-party health and safety company), prepared a full return-to-work Covid-19 Risk Package.
Generally, we could undertake the work with appropriate social distancing. However, we also implemented measures such as more regular cleaning of plant and welfare facilities to ensure hygiene and avoid contamination. In addition, all staff were briefed on the use of face coverings and were provided with individual work vans for commuting during this period.
The paths and infrastructure we have upgraded and constructed at the Den of Maidencraig Nature Reserve are safe, built to last and require little to no maintenance.
We are proud to have been part of the redevelopment - a mammoth project that will bring many benefits to the local area. Giving the surrounding communities access to nature, the project will improve wellbeing in the community and the area’s biodiversity, as well as provide walking routes that will give residents more options for travel.
How can we support your next project?
We work in sensitive environments to protect communities and habitats, allowing people to access nature in a sympathetic way.
Our skilled team has the expertise to complete a range of civil works for different sectors and purposes, while reducing environmental impact.
From concept to reality, we design and construct mountain biking trails and footpaths that are unique to their location and complement the natural landscape.