The Ballyhoura FAS Outdoor Course which is currently accepting applications and due to start in late September 2012. Ballyhoura Outdoor Recreation Course is a challenging 40 week full time course that provides participants with expert tuition to develop the skills, knowledge and qualifications necessary to gain employment in the outdoor adventure sector. Based in Kilfinane, Co. Limerick, a typical day sees participants mountain biking the Ballyhoura trails, hill walking in the Galtees or kayaking on Lough Gur or the Lower Shannon. The course is run by Ballyhoura Development Ltd in association with FAS.
To qualify for the course, participants must have an interest in sport and an ambition to work in the outdoors. Applicants should be aged over 18 years.
Find more information on Facebook or check out the blog or website below:
For more information or to apply, contact Anisa Moynihan, Ballyhoura Development Ltd. Tel.: 063-91730 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your local FAS office.
Good morning off-roaders!
I probably don’t need to tell you that Ireland has tremendous potential for walking, cycling and other outdoor recreation activities, and that wise management is required to deliver quality recreation experiences and long-term benefit.
Many of Ireland’s mountains are suffering the effects of erosion, whether through increased recreational activity or natural processes, or indeed a combination of these. As these areas have a high conservation value, it’s important to respond appropriately.
Helping the Hills is a conference on the management of upland paths, hosted by Mountaineering Ireland and taking place at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow on Thursday 13th – Friday 14th September.
The programme incorporates presentations, workshops and site visits. The conference will be jointly opened by Minister Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Minister Alex Attwood MLA, Minister for the Environment (NI). We have a strong line-up of speakers, ready to share the lessons from their work in the management of recreation and upland paths.
This event should be of interest and value to those involved in the promotion, funding and management of outdoor recreation, local authorities, land managers, participants in outdoor recreation and all those with an interest in the sustainable management of upland areas.
Conference fee is just €80, for full programme and online booking, go to www.helpingthehills.ie.
We look forward to seeing some of you in Glendalough!
Hillwalking, Access & Conservation Officer
Coillte have made their new off-road strategy available on the Coillte Outdoors website. You can view the document here.
This strategy has major implications for mtb access and development around the country so it’s well worth taking the time to read though it.
Please see the response from the Offroad Commission here.
To the Mountain Bike Community, and whoever else it may concern:
As many of you know, as Access Officer for the Off-road Commission, and prior to that as its Chairman, I have been heavily involved for many years in dealing with Coillte in matters relating to mountain biking. Over the past year, we have been actively involved with them on a Mountain Bike strategy document. It was hoped that this Strategy would offer workable solutions to many of the issues resulting from our use of Coillte lands for our sport.
This document is in the process of being launched by Coillte, while it offers some fantastic opportunities for both national level facilities and club based projects, it does not, in my opinion adequately address the issues of general access to Coillte lands for mountain biking. Whilst it sets the ground work for continued long term growth of our sport it does very little to deal with the more immediate issues raised by the imposition of the Coillte Bye Laws introduced in 2009.
In addition to this, relations between the Off-road Commission and Coillte have deteriorated significantly over the past few months to the extent that we have been effectively shut out of the finalisation of the strategy and our remaining concerns ignored.
The Off-road Commission will issue further communications detailing the positives and the negatives contained in the document.
When it becomes available (it will likely be posted to the Coillte Outdoors site next week) I would urge people to read the document for themselves and come to their own conclusions, weighing both the positives (which there are many) and the negatives. There is much to be gained through the Strategy for clubs that wish to engage with Coillte locally and develop their own trails. To do so however mountain bikers will have to conclude themselves on the implications for their day to day riding.
I find myself in a situation where I can no longer reconcile my personal riding with Coillte’s access policy and the provision of the bye laws. I feel it would be hypocritical of me to stay on in a role on the commission when there is little prospect of a resolution to the issues of general access.
With a certain amount of regret I therefore resign my position on the commission with immediate effect.
I would not like my resignation to be seen as opposition to the Strategy. Quite the opposite in fact, I am excited by some of the opportunities it presents and the fact that the long term picture it paints is a kin to anything we have seen in Scotland or Wales. The issue is that it does not deal with the bye laws and the whole area of general access which was in many respects the principal motivation for me to get involved in this process in the first instance. I still believe that they way forward is through responsible mountain biking and working with Coillte locally to develop areas to ride. I will certainly remain active at club level trying to do just that. At National level I feel that I have contributed all that I can and that relations with Coillte have deteriorated to an extent where I can be of little further use to the community going forward.
I would like to thank everyone who has been of assistance to me during my years on the commission, your contributions are much appreciated.
I feel we have achieved a lot, although there is no doubt more to do.
While I am removing myself from any official role I will always be at the end of a phone for any biker who needs advise or guidance on any issue that they feel I can help with.
See you on the trail.
Coillte’s National Mountain Bike/Off-Road Cycling Strategy
As you may be aware, Coillte are in the process of launching their National Mountain Bike Strategy. The strategy has been in development for quite some time and involved numerous groups and stakeholders, including ourselves. We would like to explain the extent of our involvement in the process and our views on the final document – the positive opportunities it presents and also its shortcomings.
Over the past year we have been a member of the Strategy Project Group, working proactively with Coillte on certain aspects of the strategy. While initial relations between ourselves and Coillte were quite positive and our contributions were welcomed, late last year relations deteriorated significantly. Coillte are now refusing to engage with us any further on the strategy and are pushing ahead with a document that we are not 100% happy with.
There are several positive aspects to the strategy document. It deals very proactively with the areas of trail centres and club-based building projects. We cannot fault it in this regard and it is more positive than we initially expected. Coillte make it clear that they wish to see many more trail centres built, obviously contingent on funding. They will look to build a large number of facilities at new locations and to significantly reinvest in some of the facilities already in place.
Coillte have made it quite clear that they want to work with registered clubs to start local trail building projects. They have identified nineteen forest properties where they are ready to start dealing with clubs immediately on projects. They also make it clear that this list will evolve as new areas become popular and the scene develops. In the past, getting these types of projects started has been quite hard and we believe this strategy has dealt with possible issues making it far easier to get this type of project moving in future. In fact, pilot projects are already underway with more due to start in the not too distant future.
However, some aspects of the strategy are less than satisfactory. Firstly there are minor annoyances. There are references to bikes causing user safety issues and erosion. This is frustrating because it is largely untrue, but other than mentioning them as a reason why proper trail planning is important, no further mention is made so, other than the aggravation it will cause responsible riders, this issue is not critical.
The real shortcoming of the strategy is the whole area of general access and the bye-laws. Coille introduced bye-laws in 2009 which effectively ban mountain biking from their lands, except under permit. It was hoped that this strategy would offer a workable solution to the problems the bye-laws present to the mountain bike community. The strategy reiterates that the bye-laws are in place but doesn’t suggest any measure which deals with casual access, other than at a very low level in some forest parks.
The issue of the bye-laws and the whole area of general access was the principal motivation for us to get involved in the development of this strategy. The fact that it has not been dealt with leaves us in a situation where we will struggle to reconcile the reality of day to day Mountain biking in Ireland to Coillte’s position on general access.
Despite the concerns mentioned above, we would encourage clubs and individual bikers to embrace the positive aspects of the strategy. Apart from the possibility of new trail centres, clubs will now have the opportunity to legitimise their trails in popular areas. These are significant steps forward and will help ensure that our sport has a positive long-term future.
Cycling Ireland Off Road Commission.
Unknown individuals have broken a large number of glass bottles along the trails in Leadmines, Co. Dublin. Please be aware of this and keep your eye out when riding. Members of EPIC Mtb are leading the clean-up effort – check here if you’d like to help out.
You can see some photos of the damage here.
Following the discovery of the tree-disease P. ramorum in Moneyscalp forest, large areas of trees are to be felled to prevent the spread of the disease. The forest is closed to all users during the felling and access will be limited to forest roads only for a period of 3 years. We urge all mountinbikers to observe the access restrictions.
There is a risk of the infection spreading to nearby Tollymore and if this is occurs, similar restrictions must be put in place. The Forestry Service hopes to be able to confirm the situation in the spring.
An update from Coillte Outdoors:
Forest operations of windrowing brash close to MTB Trails at Ballinastoe.
Forest operations in the way of windrowing brash has started on a clearfelled section, this is to facilitate new planting that will be commencing shortly, please note there might be small section closures as a result. For your health and safety please respect these closures and do not approach any machinery.
Following a recent call for submissions to the Coillte MTB Strategy, concerns have been raised in some quarters regarding the level of involvement of the mountain bike community in communications with Coillte, as well as other landowners, and also relating to the level of progress to date and the value of continued dialogue. While it is not practical to deal with all the various points here, I want to give an overview of where we are and suggest a mechanism for addressing specific concerns and communicating information going forward.
While there have been some notable steps forward over reason years, and much progress has been made, it is an undeniable fact the progress in certain areas has been slow and fraught with issues. Instead of going through a litany of successes and failures I will explain where things stand at this moment in time and how we plan to progress them forward.
Continue reading »
Continue reading »