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Pitfichie Downhill Trail, Pitfichie

North East Adventure Tourism
August-September 2022

Work Scope

With the aim of building a new finish to the original Pitfichie downhill trail, we kept the natural feel rough and rugged throughout the build process. As a consequence of Storm Arwen, Pitfichie, along with many of the North East of Scotland trails, were left devastated with significant effects on the trail network in this area.

Tasked by NEAT (with support from Aberdeenshire Trail Association and Forestry and Land Scotland), we set out to create a new finish that splits off the main DH line where the trail is lost to windblown trees. Taking ten days to build at 430 meters long was challenging but rewarding for the team. Using both hand and machine work meant we could make the most of the rocky terrain, building impressive rock corners, drops and technical sections.

Testing whilst the trail is in the construction process is one of CRC trail's strong points. Having experienced riders on the team for a more challenging black trail like this one means we get to test for all abilities. Flow is one of our main focuses on a natural trail; we can achieve this by testing and tweaking as we build.

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We decided to use the 5-tonne excavator with the 360 degrees Encon to allow us to negotiate the challenging terrain with low environmental impact.

It was challenging to be in rocky and tightly spaced tree sections to build. Still, the ability of the tilting hitch and the agility of a smaller excavator opened up more possibilities to create the features we wanted whilst not having to take any trees down in the process.

During the building phase, we faced the challenge of Mother Nature. A lack of rain meant compaction of the As dug was very little, but luckily we got one day of rain which allowed us to do our best to increase the longevity of the trail.

A time constraint was upon us also to make the entire trail ready for a race that was taking place not long after the trail was complete. We had to work fast and efficiently to get the job done. In addition to the heavy rain, the significant number of racers meant the trail had rapid and harsh bedding in process. This resulted in a rough and varied trail true to its downhill roots! Some of the more vulnerable sections required minor repairs due to their inadequate time to bed in.

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’Bash to the bog’, the name selected for our new section of trail, has now become a perfect case study on how we can work together to restore and build a sustainable trail network for the future.

Even though the trail suffered some damage, it has transformed into a fittingly rough, technically challenging flow trail, a great comeback story and accomplishment for Pitfichie.

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