Photos: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven; Janet Jones; Lorna Brackenridge; Trial Magazine UK
With special thanks to the people of Kinlochleven, Scotland who support this prestigious event.
The village of Kinlochleven in Argyll has played host to many motorcycle trials over the years, that includes the famous Scottish Six Days, the routes of which were pioneered by local man, Ian Pollock who lived in the village and worked in the British Aluminium smelter, which was the main employer.
The plethora of paths that lead into the Mamores and surrounding hills almost seemed to be custom-made for trial competitions and the abundance of natural sections makes this effectively “God’s own trials country”.
The Kinlochleven & District Motor Cycle Club Ltd was re-formed after a thirty year period of inactivity, specifically to promote a two day trial event for Brit shock and Twin shock machines in the glorious area of open countryside that surrounds the village of Kinlochleven in Argyll. The club can trace its history back to the pre-war era.
Trials Guru is proud to have had a degree of input by way of assistance to the club committee in the formative stages during 2017 when the club was reformed and to provide some ideas as to the format the event should take.
The prime mover of the club and the trial is undoubtedly their chairman, Martin Murphy, a local businessman who had the foresight to bring local people together to promote an event which would be a success in its first year.
The event was launched in a low key manner at the Telford Off Road show in February of 2018 and the word was spread that a brand new event would take place that September with a maximum of 120 competitors, which was amended to 150, such was the demand. In the following year, the entry level was increased to a massive 250 competitors which made it the largest multi-day trials event in Scotland, second only to the Scottish Six Days Trial.
During the Telford Off-Road show, Sammy Miller was approached in the Holiday Inn at Ironbridge to be guest of honour, a role that he was delighted to accept. It was Sammy who donated the main trophy for best performance in the trial.
The very first rider flagged away by Sammy Miller at the inaugural event was Trials Guru’s John Moffat on his Bultaco 325. The overall winner in 2018 was John Charlton on a 350 Drayton/Triumph Twin.
Much negotiation takes place between the club and the major land owners, Jahama Estates Ltd and Scottish Natural Heritage, who control the Leven Valley SSSI upon which the event is held.
Refueling is undertaken by the club and is managed by suitably licenced personnel and with full permission and knowledge of the respective landowners in safe locations.
Headquarters of the event is at the local business known as the Ice Factor, the ice climbing and mountain activity centre, which promotes indoor climbing and has facilities which are made available to the trial competitors, officials and supporters. The Ice Factor is located in the last remaining part of the old British Aluminium factory, most of which was demolished in the 1990s and the factory area is used as a car park for the competitors.
The village of Kinlochleven has a rich industrial history with the production of aluminium spanning over 100 years, but production was moved to Fort William some years ago to the smelter there.
The first event was a runaway success and the organisers were aware that the popularity would grow and as a result planned for 250 competitors for the second edition. This increase had to be properly managed and much forward planning was done to ensure the smooth operation of the event with an increased entry level.
For many years there had been a demand for a prime quality event to cater for Brit and Twin shock machines in the Kinlochleven area, such was the increasing popularity of these classes. The Pre’65 movement was beginning to suffer the ravages of time, no longer were authentic machines being used, but the start fields were filled with replicas and much modified bikes, some of which bore little resemblance to those machines used prior to 1965. The age of the riders was also dramatically rising. Also the cost of building these special look-alikes was becoming extremely expensive.
Many riders now in their late fifties and early sixties had taken a liking to the machines they rode as young men. The resurgence of the Bultaco Sherpa, Montesa Cota, Ossa MAR, the first of the TY Yamaha range and Fantic, all became more popular once again.
The Kinlochleven enthusiasts decided that it was time for a locally organised event to take place. They had played host to those from further afield who were visitors to Kinlochleven and the time was indeed ripe for a concerted local effort, after all these enthusiasts were brought up in the locality and had the local connections.
The permission to run an event, totally off-road which obviated the need for all machines to be road registered and taxed, was sought form local landowners and estate factors. The trial uses a variety of land, all of which are interconnected by footpaths and estate roads with some open moorland crossings, particularly the Callart area.
Thirty sections per day with a loop of between 20-25 miles per day seems to satisfy the entrants. Most of the sections are plotted using water courses and the riders are treated to pit their skills against the famous SSDT section ‘Pipeline’ regarded as one of the most iconic sections in the sport of trials.
The event uses a fair amount of land which forms part of the Leven Valley SSSI, controlled by Scottish Natural Heritage, which means that permission has not only to be sought from the landowner, but also SNH. This explains why there is strictly no machines allowed on the course except those of competitors and event officials.
The event trophies were donated to the club by the following individuals and businesses:
Sammy Miller – Premier Award Trophy
The REH Trophy; The Rockshocks trophy; The Jahama Estates trophy; The KDMCC Village Trophy; The Robin Luscombe Trophy (Best 201cc Brit shock); The TLR Transformations trophy; The Mick Andrews trophy; The Rockshocks trophy; The Doreen Stratford trophy for the best SACU licence holder who has not one any other award or trophy.
Shortly after the launch of the trial at Telford show, the club initiated local firm, Caledonian Computers to construct a bespoke website for the club, so that information could be dispersed easily to riders, officials, club members and those who wanted to watch the event.
At the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the inaugural event, the club ran a raffle with prizes donated by the motorcycle trade, the proceeds were distributed to local good causes and charities, thus cementing an even stronger bond with the village and the local community.
The club, predominantly made up of local people, including David & Lorna Dougan, they enlisted the support of Tam Weir (Clerk of Course); Robbie Weir (Asst. Clerk of Course); Gill Weir; Jim Tennant; Lorna Brackenridge and Graham Law to help with the course and administration. Chris and Sarah Boles attend to the results and computer input as well as website administration.
Find out more:
For those interested in this event, please follow this link to the Kinlochleven MCC official website: HERE
Trial Winners & Guests of Honour:
2018 – John Charlton (350 Drayton Triumph) – Sammy Miller MBE
2019 – Stephen ‘Butch’ Robson (250 Montesa) – Bernie Schreiber
Bernie Schreiber celebrated 40 years since his World Championship win by riding a 350 Triumph, on loan from Club Chairman, Martin Murphy.
More photographs to follow shortly.