Rebuilding the Damaged Trails of the United Kingdom

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From November 2021 to February 2022, a series of powerful storms rocked areas of the UK in ways that had not been seen since the infamous 1987 hurricane, 34 years earlier. Whole towns and villages were cut off from power, heating, running water, and mobile phone reception. Further to the immediate impact on lives, an estimated 16 million trees were blown over, blocking roads, flattening forestry plantations, destroying vehicles, and starting a long-term impact on recreation provisions. 18 months on, the operations to alleviate the impact of the storms continue. Many forests remain closed to mountain bikers, with trails buried under a twisted maze of unstable timber. Some may be lost forever, leaving the raconteurs to wax lyrical of days gone by. All, however, is not lost.

While some areas and communities are sitting in limbo as to whether their hallowed spaces and revered trails will reopen, others have managed to stride forward with a progressive, collaborative approach with land managers.

In this Soil Searching film, trail and environmental advocate Manon Carpenter takes a journey of discovery to two of the worst affected regions in the UK—Northumberland and Aberdeenshire—to see how these passionate communities are managing. Through practical actions and sharing of stoke, Manon learns how mountain bikers are adapting to a more extreme climate in an effort to secure a long-term future for their trails, forests, and quality of life.

Credit: Specialized Bicycles