The Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) may be in trouble. The internationally-recognized trials competition, the oldest in the world, could lose a lot of riding ground, thanks to illegal dirt bike riding in the area.

In mid-July, the SSDT Facebook page shared a post saying that, despite the Scottish COVID-19 lockdown, people were illegally riding on private and forestry land. As per the post, “Illegal activity on forestry land and unauthorised uses of Private Venues is a criminal offence and puts all legitimate events at risk.”

The result? “The Edinburgh & District MC have been approached by a major estate concerned about unauthorised riding around the Rannoch area. If this continues, the SSDT could lose the entire Thursday route, a route that has been part of the event for decades.” In other words, if the hoonery continues, local landowners might shut off all access entirely.

The problem, apart from issues over the lockdown and trespassing, is that the illegal offroading puts environmentally sensitive areas at risk. Landowners aren’t keen on seeing these areas ripped up by knobbies after investing time and money to preserve them. The SSDT might avoid those areas, but if illegal dirt biking destroys them, everyone will suffer.

Is this just one more misunderstanding over green lane right-of-ways, a very common happening in the UK? “Some individuals seem to think that old drove roads and tracks are vehicular rights of way – in fact there are very few rights of way for motorised vehicles in Scotland,” says the SSDT. “Most have an average length of less than 1 mile and are short stretches of roads that have not been adopted by the local authority. None of the off-road routes that the SSDT use are vehicular rights of way, they are all privately owned and using motorised vehicles on them is not permitted without specific consent from the landowner.

The SSDT is already on its back heels, having had to cancel this year’s event due to COVID-19. The event has run since 1909, with stoppages during the world wars, and currently runs in the Lochaber area. For more details on this classic British motorcycle competition, visit the SSDT website.

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