First and foremost, neither the Black Canon Collective (BCC), nor its members were to blame for the damage caused to Roddenbury Hillfort, and were saddened to find the damage.
The BCC is a local mountain bike (MTB) club based around Longleat forest which is entirely run by local volunteers. The club has been running for 4 years and is comprised of 200 members including qualified MTB ride leaders, skills instructors and British Cycling commissaires. The purpose of the club is to support and develop the local MTB community by working in harmony with local land owners and has, to date, proved successful. It is affiliated to national cycling bodies British Cycling and the CTC, is constituted accordingly and is run by a formal committee.
The club licences 30 acres of woodland, the 'Allotment', from the Longleat estate on which it has been creating a range of permanent trails for all MTB disciplines by hand for the past 4 years. The trails built and maintained in the Allotment are best-practice and built to the International Mountain Bike Association’s (IMBA's) trail-building guidelines and standards. The BCC does not build trails anywhere other than the Allotment, which is approximately 5 km from the site of the Roddenbury Hillfort.
In addition to providing support for the local mountain biking community the BCC has organised litter-picking rides in Longleat forest, built a children’s cycling track in a nearby village, and been involved with the organising and marshalling at numerous community events and charity fund raisers across the region. The BCC is a responsible organisation and has the utmost respect for Longleat forest, the landscape and the environment.
In response to the appearance of the dirt jumps at Roddenbury Hillfort, the BCC notified the estate and offered then to help with any repairs, as a gesture of good will. The BCC then set about building an equivalent legal set of trail features at the Allotment to accommodate and give a focus to that style of riding in an effort to prevent further occurrences of similar 'wild' trail building.
This regrettable matter highlights the importance and need for the continued existence of a purpose-built, managed mountain bike area within Longleat forest such as the Allotment.
The BCC is currently involved in discussions with the Longleat Estate due to the recently announced plans for restricted access to parts of the Longleat Estate which, unless altered, will mean the loss of the Allotment site, the legitimate MTB trail network it contains and 4 years of hard work by local volunteers. The BCC is keen to explore every alternative to the closure of the Allotment site.
Black Canon Collective