Tag Archives: Pre-65 Scottish

2016 Pre’65 Scottish Photo-Review!

Here is Trials Guru’s 2016 Pre’65 Scottish Photo Review in glorious colour.

All images provided for your pleasure by John Hulme of Classic Trial Magazine UK …

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David Moffat (350 Matchless G3C) in the parade on Friday morning – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Father and Son duo, Dave and Dan Thorpe at Upper Mamore checking the line – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Carl Batty from Kendal on his 250 James tackles Upper Mamore – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Upper Mamore – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK
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David Dench (250 James) on Upper Mamore – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Sandy Mack (BSA) on Upper Mamore – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Michael Irving from Kendal on his Ariel – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Eric McMeekin from Belford (BSA Bantam) makes use of a long dab – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Norman Shepherd (BSA Bantam) – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Sam Sharp from Barnoldswick on his 230 Triumph Cub) – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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David Coughlan with Guy Martin at the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish, both are accomplished racing motorcyclists – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Carl Winstanley from Chorley on his 250 James – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Graham Atkinson (Villiers) Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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David Coughlan (1966 Bultaco Sherpa) on Upper Mamore – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Guy Martin (Ariel) at Upper Mamore 3 – Photo – John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Scott Dommett (250 Dot) on Upper Mamore 2 – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Martin Murphy from Kinlochleven (400 Triumph) on Upper mamore 1 – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Nicholas Paxton (343 BSA B40) – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Philip Wiffen (350 Matchless) retired with a broken gearbox – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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William Weatherhead from Midlothian on his Triumph Cub – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Clive Dopson (500 Norton) watched by James Lampkin – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Lee Granby (Ariel) – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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David Moffat (1959 350 Matchless) takes a steadying dab on Upper Mamore – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Javier Cruz from Madrid on a BSA Bantam – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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2015 winner James Noble (500 Ariel) – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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James Lampkin had a great ride on his father’s 1966 SSDT winning BSA 250 – Photo: John Hulme Classic Trial Magazine UK

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John Moffat enjoying his first outing on the ex-Gerry Minshall BSA 250 on Upper Mamore – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Alan ‘Chips’ Crayk from Inverness on his Cotton 250 – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Alex Carmichael from Inverness comes to grief on his BSA B40 – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Graham Du Feu from Jersey, Channel Islands on his Ariel – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Tony Swindenbank on his Drayton Bantam from Kendal Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Carlos Casas from Olot, Catalunia, Spain on his Triumph Cub tackling Pipeline – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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David Moffat storms Pipeline on his father’s 350 Matchless – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Alan Fender from Stromness on his father Alex’s Greeves on Pipeline – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK 

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Darren Walker (BSA) takes a steadying prod on Pipeline – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Rockshocks supremo, Gary Fleckney tests his products to the limit on Pipeline – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Winner of the T.Arnott Moffat Quaich for best overseas rider, Mark Harris (Ariel) from Ireland – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Ben Butterworth from Bury on his Ariel tackles Pipeline – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Valenti Fontsere from Barcelaona, Spain on his James – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Mike Watson (BSA) – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Winner of the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish – Dan Clark – Triumph – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Robin Luscombe on his Triumph – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Calum Murphy on the Willie Stewart constructed 200cc BSA Bantam – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Eddie Aitken on his Triumph twin – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Winner in 2013 James Harland on his Triumph twin – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Mark Smith on his Ariel – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Murray Whittaker was third place man on his Triumph Cub – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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Three times World Trials Champion, Yrjo Vesterinen enjoying his Pre’65 Scottish on his very fine BSA Bantam which took him to best Over 60 award – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

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‘Team Sharpe’ Sam & Simon – Photo: John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK

With special thanks for the co-operation of John Hulme, Classic Trial Magazine UK on this photo-review on Trials Guru – All images copyright, all rights reserved.

A Trials Guru special feature

  • All images are the intellectual legal property of the photographer, who has contributed and given express permission for use to Trials Guru.
  • No part of this website may be used without the express permission of the copyright holder(s)/author(s).
    All written content on this website is copyright of: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing – and is the intellectual property of John Moffat, unless otherwise stated – © 2016 (All Rights Reserved).

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Guy Martin rides Pre’65 Scottish in 2016


Guy Martin, star of the film ‘TT3D – Closer To The Edge’ and various television series is to ride a 350cc Ariel in the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish Trial on Friday 29th and Saturday, 30th April, 2016. He will also undertake duties as the official guest of honour for the event which takes place around the village and hillsides of Kinlochleven, Argyll.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat (left) with Guy Martin (centre) and George McCann at the Bon Accord Grampian Motorcycle Convention at Alford in 2011 where he was guest of honour – Photo copyright: Jean Moffat/Moffat Racing

The Pre’65 trial secretary, Anne Gordon added: ‘We are delighted to announce that Guy Martin, Motorcycle Racer and TV star has agreed to be Guest of Honour for the 2016 event and has also entered the trial to try his hand at Pre’65 trials riding. It is a great honour for us to have him at the trial and we would like to thank Simon Sharp and Owen Hardisty at Hope Technology (our Saturday Day Sponsors) for helping us to get Guy to the event after we approached them at last year’s SSDT. We are really excited to have such a celebrity at our event and hope he enjoys taking part. I don’t think there will be many people who have not heard of Guy, as he is well-known through his very illustrious motorcycle racing career as well as his many film and television shows that have us all enthralled with his very hands on and down to earth approach’.

The Pre’65 Scottish is always massively oversubscribed with over 150 potential entrants disappointed at not getting through the inevitable ballot of competitors. However it should be clarified that Hope Technology are the event sponsors and as such, are entitled to what is effectively a ‘wild-card’ reserved entry as part of their sponsorship deal, which in this case has been granted to Guy Martin for 2016. The appearance of Guy Martin at this event, both as a rider and guest of honour can only be good for the sport of trials and the ever supportive inhabitants of the town of Kinlochleven.

Owen Hardisty and Guy Martin - Photo
Guy Martin picks up his 350 Ariel that he will use in the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish Two-Day Trial on 29/30 April from Hope Technology’s designer Owen Hardisty – Photo courtesy of Hope Technology.

Who is Guy Martin?

Born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England in November 1981, Guy was the central racing character when supported by the Irish-based Wilson Craig Honda team in the docu-movie, ‘TT3D – Closer to the Edge’ which was filmed during the 2010 TT races and screened in 2011. This set Martin on the road to a lucrative television career having competed for many years at the Isle of Man TT with success, but so far no outright TT win to his credit. He has ridden for AIM Yamaha, Relentless/Tyco Suzuki and Hydrex Honda teams in the past.

Martin is interested in all things mechanical, his main occupation is an HGV mechanic with an independent truck company in Grimsby Lincolnshire, which specialises in the maintenance of Scania trucks. His father Ian who also ran a similar business is also a former motorcycle road racer who retired from racing in 1988 after an accident at Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount.

Martin has been the central character in several television documentaries which has taken him half way around the globe to India and most recently to Latvia in a Chanel Four production in which he retraced the life of his late maternal grandfather, Zanus ‘Walter’ Kidals in the war-torn Baltic state of Latvia which saw occupation by both German and Russian troops in the second world conflict. His grandfather was a displaced person known as ‘DP’ arriving via Hull where he met an English girl, married, settled and worked in Britain.

By coincidence, the town of Kinlochleven saw many DPs, like Martin’s grandfather; arrive from war-torn Europe and the Balcan states of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania as there was work available at the North British Aluminium Company smelter in Kinlochleven. One such man was Lithuanian born Paul Kilbauskas, who arrived in 1947 and found employment at the aluminium works and with co-worker and friend Ian Pollock discovered the many paths and sections that are still used by both the Pre’65 and Scottish Six Days events that make use of the Leven Valley in early May. Kilbauskas later became a ‘Tunnel Tiger’ working on the large hydro-electric schemes in the Scottish Highlands.

Guy has harboured a desire to compete in Pre’65 trials since 2011, but television and racing commitments rendered it a ‘back-burner’ for a few years.

The Pre’65 committee having secured sponsorship with Hope Technology which has an association with Guy through his interest in mountain bikes and eventually Simon Sharp and Owen Hardisty made the approach to see if Martin would be Guest of Honour at the annual event, now in its thirty second year.

Guy Martin has turned his skilled hands to many things in front of camera, including a two-year restoration of a Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft which had been buried in a French beach since the second world war; a rebuild of a narrow-boat called ‘Reckless’ and much more; including riding a hydroplane motocross bike across a lake and setting a speed record for a pedal-cycle. He was even fortunate enough to be allowed to work on the last flying Vulcan bomber aircraft XH558 during preparations for its final flight in 2015.

Guy’s Ariel:

On loan specially for the Pre’65 Scottish Guy will be riding a 350cc Ariel HT3 which used to belong to Lancastrian ace, Chris Gascoigne who campaigned the machine for many years and has been a winner in Chris’s hands many times over.

Added attractions for the 2016 Pre’65 Scottish from 1966:

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The 1967 SSDT programme cover featured the 1966 winner, Alan Lampkin on his factory BSA 748MOE

There will also be an appearance of the 1966 Scottish Six Days winning BSA C15T of Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin. Registered as 748MOE, it will be ridden in the Pre’65 by Alan’s son, James Lampkin to celebrate 50 years since Sid’s SSDT victory on the very last British four-stoke machine to win the Highland classic. This will be James Lampkin’s first pre’65 Scottish although he has competed in the SSDT for many years.

James Lampkin: “Dad realised that it would be 50 years since the BSA won the Scottish in 1966 after he bought the bike back again in October 2014. It is very original having passed through quite a few owners since it was sold off in 1967. Although he doesn’t ride trials himself anymore, he was very pleased when I agreed to enter on the BSA. I’m really looking forward to it”.

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1966 SSDT winner, A.R.C. ‘Sid’ Lampkin seen here with John Moffat (Trials Guru) in November 2014. James Lampkin is visible on the left of the photo – Photo courtesy: John Hulme/Trial Magazine.

Mike Ransom – Francis Barnett Ace

Mike Ransom on Mamore in the 2008 Pre'65 Scottish Trial - Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Mike Ransom on Mamore in the 2008 Pre’65 Scottish Trial – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Trials Guru caught up with former Francis Barnett teamster, Mike Ransom and asked him about his trials career.

Mike Ransom: “I’ve been riding motorcycles for sixty years now and enjoyed every minute of it.

I never rode in the International Six Days, but I did ride my Francis Barnett in France at Rochepaule at Claude Coutard’s place where I won the Pre’65 event. From memory there were over three hundred riders there with all the various classes. I lost three marks on the last section on the second day. It was a fabulous event and a lovely journey to get to it.

My first Scottish Six Days was in 1957, when I received a Special First class award. I managed to win a Special First in every Scottish I rode in.

In 1999 I won the 250cc cup at the Pre’65 Scottish Trial, the same award I won thirty-six years previously in the Scottish in 1962 on the same machine – 307AKV.

Unlike many of my contemporaries, I have kept riding, I will be 80 in June and two years ago I bought a modern bike, a Montesa 4RT.

In 2012 I rode in the Relaince trial on the clubman’s route as it was fifty years from when I rode it on the Barnett which was brand new at the time. I finished runner up to Bob Baker by one mark”.

Mike’s modifications:

“My Francis Barnett is virtually original, it has the original hubs and they haven’t been skimmed. I was permitted to modify it it in 1964 to the specification it is now.

I altered the steering head angle to the magic 67 degrees, to do this I had to add 0.75 of an inch to the top frame tube. I did various modifications in 1964. I lifted the bottom tube, moved the motor back in the frame and narrowed the rear . I then took the two tubes that run under the tank and triangulated it with one.

At one stage ,I removed 0.75 of an inch out of the swinging arm, but immediately replaced it as it wasn’t successful.

At the time, the factory wasn’t keen on any modifications from standard, their policy was for bits to come from the shelves at AMC. I think the writing was on the wall financially as they went bust in 1966. They must have thought something of me, as they offered me the bike for just the purchase tax payment.

I do all my own welding and I am fairly proud to say that nothing has moved since 1964!

By comparison to the modern frames in T45 tubing, it weighs about forty five pounds more and I find that this hampers the machine somewhat.

I know that I made these modifications before anyone else and there are more James and Barnetts now than ever before!”

Mike Ransom on Am Bodach in the 2008 Pre'65 Scottish Trial - Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Mike Ransom on Am Bodach in the 2008 Pre’65 Scottish Trial – Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Trials Interest:

“My interest in trials started with push-bikes as children. We started a club called Old Park Hammers. Alan Morewood and Philip Beal were original members. My Hercules was very second hand, but I thought it was the bee’s knees when I put a big sprocket on the Sturmey-Archer.

We also competed round the Sheffield area riding Cycle Speedway using the old bomb sites which had been spread into red ash. I started motorcycling on a Cyclemaster which of course fitted into the Hercules frame. My mother entered me into a competition which I won at sixteen years of age.

My next bike was a model 18 Norton with girder forks on which I passed my driving test. This was followed by a BSA Gold Star B34 trials which weighed in at a whopping three hundred and eight pounds.

The Gold Star had a mere six inches of ground clearance and I ran it in going to the Motor Cycle show in London. On the way back I opened her up and shut her back down at 92 mph on the A1. That was on standard trials gearing!

I was at this time about 18 and I rode this all over Yorkshire you recall we rode to trials and back to Sheffield using ‘bobby dodgers’. I broke three pistons in it, taking the bottom plate off then scooping the bits out, before carrying on or home Otley, Ilkley, Bradford and Halifax were many miles from home. We had no other means or could not afford any alternative. I later found out that Goldstar pistons did not have split skirts, my local rebore chap kept using Hepolite split skirts which gave up”.


“My first club was the Sheffield and Hallamshire, we were affiliated to the Yorkshire Centre. At the time there was perhaps 16 South Yorkshire Group Clubs such as Woksop, Doncaster putting on trials which included an South Yorkshire championship which I won quite a few times. Major trials were usually Centre status events where we did the long distances.

Centre trials in Yorkshire were around 60 miles one lap events and always included miles of moorland, something the modern rider would not comprehend; riding to the trials would be another. Trials were essentially a winter event and we took to Scrambling in the summer, I was Yorkshire centre champion in the late fifties riding my Enfield.

I did ride for Yorkshire three times in the Inter Centre Team Trial in the late fifties. At one event at Honiton Tom Ellis was team manager and he booked us in to a Temperance Hotel and I have recollections of Artie Ratcliffe, Peter Fletcher and Arthur Lampkin bringing crates of beer into the hotel lounge.

Tom Ellis was a bit upset, not about the beer but the noise the clinking of the bottles was making, we may have been chucked out. One weekend I did ride in the West of England trial at Newton Abbot on the Saturday a trade supported event to which I got seven pounds and ten shillings expenses, that was the standard rate.

We then had to travel the next day to Brecon to ride in the inter centre team trial. We then came back to Sheffield to be at work Monday morning and remember no M4 etc”.


“I did win the 500 final at our club scramble one year on my HT Ariel, but the Scrambles circuit was more like the Scott Trial (I have about 6 silver spoons) in those days and on that day the course was very hard and suited me. Of all the South Yorkshire Trials clubs that existed only two now put on trials.  

The Hallamshire is now affiliated to the East Midland centre. It does mean that all that land we used, is now lost. I know where we used to trial and scramble at Rotherham ( Listerdale) is now a huge housing estate.

I had a Royal Enfield 350cc springer, very novel in those days, which I also scrambled; a Tiger Cub and a loan of a 250 BSA. I purchased John Harris’s HT Ariel which I had quite a lot of success with. Winning the National Peaks Trial twice on the trot, and the Hillsborough Jack Wood twice on the trot too.

I got a bit of support from Ariel and rode in two British Experts finishing 16 both times, not bad when you consider we were the best in the world then. Tony Bou eat your heart out, he was not born then.

In one of the British Experts, Roy Peplow and Gordon Blakeway came together, which resulted in a broken leg for Gordon. I then went into the team with Sammy Miller and Ron Langston for that year’s Scott Trial.

Eventually I got a 1961 Barnett with the AMC engine in, it was wide and the motor would not pull second gear. I used to get quite slick at changing down to bottom when the motor died. I trialed that up and down the country locally and Nationally and I must have done well enough for Mr Denton, Sales Manager at Barnetts (then at Coventry) to offer me a ride on the new 37A Villiers motored Barnetts, for the 1962 Scottish.

The first trial was the Reliance a regional restricted event in those days, where I won it, and team members Ian Williamson and Johnny Roberts finished second and third with Eric Adcock on the DOT fourth. So an excellent start and then up to the start in the Market place in Edinburgh the result was the third place on 29 marks, behind Sammy and Gordon Jackson, Gordon having done that fabulous dab the year before 1961″.

Mike Ransom on Am Bodach in 2008 at the Pre'65 Scottish Trial - Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Mike Ransom on Am Bodach in 2006 at the Pre’65 Scottish Trial – Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Trials Guru: Many thanks to Mike Ransom for sharing his memories and giving us an insight into trials as it used to be. Mike was a skilled and talented rider in his day who kept going after many of his contemporaries had hung up their boots. Mike Ransom regularly rode the Pre’65 Scottish on the same machine that carried him to success in the Scottish Six Days in 1962. It is a pleasure to be able to share his story on this website.

Mike Ransom leaves Gorgie Cattle Market, Edinburgh at the start of the 1963 Scottish Six Days – Photo courtesy: Jimmy Young, Armadale

Mike Ransom’s name will forever be associated with the marque, Francis Barnett, the motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1919, by Gordon Inglesby Francis and Arthur Barnett, and based in Lower Ford Street, Coventry, England.

© – Article: Text copyright: Michael Ransom, Sheffield – 2015

© – Photographs Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, all rights reserved.

© – Photograph Copyright: Jimmy Young, Armadale, all rights reserved.

© – Layout and Publishing: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat 2015


Responsible Land Use – The facts

Responsible Land Use

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Kinlochleven, Argyll a beautiful place and one protected along it’s Leven Valley by a SSSI – Photo: Susan Black, Prudoe

Many words have been spoken, but little written about, responsible land use in motorcycle magazines and periodicals. One could ask the question – Is this a taboo subject?

Not taboo as such, but it is complicated and a very thorny subject that has provoked spirited debate.

The primary intention of this article is not to create further debate, but to be educational and informative for the benefit of the sport of trials, to create a better understanding of not only responsible land use but to recognise what controls it.

Motorcycle sport’s governing bodies such as the Auto Cycle Union, have endeavoured to address and promote responsible land use for well over thirty years, evidenced by its membership of LARA (Land Access & Recreation Association) in 1986. It works with its affiliated clubs through its own Land Access Advisory Service.

Part of the problem appears to be lack of proper understanding of the subject matter and that is probably caused by either people not being able to find relevant factual information, or don’t fully understand it when it is discovered. Perhaps some of the terminology is alien to some of us?

It’s possible to view website forums and dialogue which covers the subject in threads such as “where to practice riding skills” and similar subject matter.

However many of these forums are locked, only viewable by members with passwords or by subscription and for good reason. It is an attempt to stop people abusing the privilege of using land, made available by landowners under certain conditions.

This locking or restriction to access however does give the impression that perhaps something subversive is going on, whereas that is not the case.

Providing details of where to ride legally off-road is outside the scope of this article, so please, don’t get over-excited.

There are however many areas in the UK, specifically set out for legal trials practice for competition training and for leisure trials riding. With full landowner permissions in place, membership fee requirements, codes of practice, restrictions of use and insurance, perhaps even owner/operated, this is without doubt a responsible and sensible approach.

It is important to understand that there is no such thing as ‘waste ground’.

All land in the United Kingdom, including common land, is owned by someone, be it an individual, group of people, company or other legal entity. However, its ownership may not be clear or be a simple task to establish who the owner is.

Let us attempt to clarify matters by examining factual information, in an understandable way, in an attempt to remove any mystique which surrounds such a complex subject.

Hopefully this article will be sufficiently informative, without going into the fine detail of legislation, insurance and such matters.

To explain in simple but factual terminology and restrict it to parts of the United Kingdom and confined to motorcycles, but equally this can apply to other areas in the UK and four wheeled vehicles also.

Also it is important, perhaps crucial, to understand that trials riders do not have any legal right to ride their motorcycles off-road.

Why is this so, what does the law say?

The Road Traffic Act 1988 (Section 34) clarifies it as follows:

Section 34 – Prohibition of driving mechanically propelled vehicles elsewhere than on roads.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, if without lawful authority a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle—

(a) on, to or upon, any common land, moorland or land of any other description, not being land forming part of a road, or

(b) On any road being a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway, he is guilty of an offence.

So, there we have it, any motorcycle activity performed away from, or off the public highway without lawful authority (permission) is recognised as ‘illegal riding’.

We won’t probe, evaluate or discuss matters concerning the legal penalties or remedies, as that would be down to a court of law to decide as appropriate.

For clarity, let us examine a specific example of a sizeable piece of land to assist in the demonstration of how this works and what restricts or even forbids the casual use of land by off-road motorcyclists.

The area is fairly well-known to the trials sport community let us look at one specific area. After all, this is a trials based website and the rationale could be easily be applied and compared to other similar areas in the country.

Billy Tiffen 1954 - RB
1954 – Billy Tiffen from Carlisle on his Velocette, crests ‘Martuim’ in the Scottish Six Days Trial, now part of the West Highland Way and part of the Leven Valley SSSI. Photo: Ray Biddle, Birmingham

The area is in Northern Scotland, known as the ‘Leven Valley’ this name may not be instantly recognisable to the reader, but with further examination its mappings reveal: Pipeline; Blackwater; Corrie Odhair on the south of the River Leven and Loch Eild; German Camp or even Leiter Bo Fionn on the north side, then it will appear familiar. This land whilst appearing to be wild, rugged and fairly remote is actually very closely managed.

German Camp - 2015
German Camp / Leiter Bo Fionn entrance in 2015. The old SSDT section is on the Leven Valley SSSI. Photo copyright Trials Guru – 2015

The name known to trials enthusiasts as the ‘Blackwater Path’ is actually the ‘Ciaran Path’ which is very popular with recreational walkers, hikers and mountain-bike riders, who incidentally do not require express permission to traverse it.

Manel Soler 1981 - JY
SSDT 1981 – Former Spanish Champion, Manuel Soler on his 325 Bultaco tackles Pipeline, part of the Leven Valley SSSI – Photo Copyright: Jimmy Young, Armadale, Scotland.

Access to the countryside was increased by statute with the creation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for England and Wales and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, in Scotland, these rights exist only if they are exercised responsibly, as specified in the Scottish Outdoor Access code. Some will know, or have heard of the Ciaran Paths’ famous catch net, constructed by members of the Scottish Six Days Trial committee in the late 1960’s with the prime intention of prevent riders competing in the event and their machines from falling into the deep gorge as they climbed the path towards Blackwater and beyond.

The Blackwater (or Cairan Path) catch net, constructed by members of the Scottish Six Days Trial committee in the late 1960s. - Photo Jock McComisky
The Blackwater (or Cairan Path) catch net, constructed by members of the Scottish Six Days Trial committee in the late 1960s. – Photo Jock McComisky

Access to the countryside requires responsibility, sometimes this is absent.

Glen Etive - Rubbish
“… Access to the countryside requires responsibility, sometimes this is absent.” Photo Copyright: Mark Shona, (Glen Etive the dirty truth)

The construction was simple, perhaps even crude, but very effective, being fashioned from scaffolding pipes cemented directly into the bed-rock on the edge of the gorge.

No doubt there have been many wayward hikers and bikers caught by its netting since its construction. Whilst this has most probably gone unreported it was a useful safety addition to the Ciaran Path for many of its users since its construction some forty years ago.

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The Leven Valley is covered by an SSSI – Photo: Neil Mackenzie, Inverness

This is an area with an industrial heritage and history. These paths and the German Prisoner of War encampments were constructed to provide the manpower to build the various dams, culverts, penstocks and conduits in the area together with the associated infrastructure for the development of the aluminium smelter.

Bernard Cordonnier
Bernard Cordonnier from Belgium with Kinlochleven and the Leven Valley visible in the background – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

These paths do erode over time, due to the severe winter weather in the area and by the constant use by walkers and cyclists. Parts of the Ciaran Path are already eroded, undercut in places and in need of repairs.

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Leven Valley is an area dotted with traces of industialisation, here is the ‘Conduit’ carrying water to Kinlochleven from Blackwater Dam. – Photo: Neil Mackenzie, Inverness

Prisoners of War were used during their interment during the First World War, to construct many of these paths and there is a display within the Post Office in Kinlochleven which gives more information on this. These paths have been established for more than a century. Here ends the history lesson.

All these places described above are on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI, usually referred to as Triple- SI). In Northern Ireland the designation is ‘Areas of Special Scientific Interest’ or ASSI.

Pipeline - IL
Pipeline is one of the world’s most iconic of trials sections. It is however on an SSSI named ‘Leven Valley’ which requires various express permissions and careful management for legitimate use – Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

The reader would be astonished to learn how much of the SSDT route makes legal use of SSSI’s. Many will have watched, observed or even ridden in this particular area.

Many hours are spent each year in meaningful discussion and negotiation between trial organisers and both the local land agents and SNH personnel.

Photo 8
Blackwater Dam, high above Kinlochleven. The Leven Valley SSSI stretches right up to the dam face – Photo: Neil Mackenzie, Inverness

What statutory instrument created SSSI’s and when?

Originally notified under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, SSSIs were re-notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Improved provisions for the protection and management of SSSIs were introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (in England and Wales) and (in Scotland) by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2010. (Source: DEFRA).

How many sites and how much land is controlled by SSSIs?

Scotland has over 1,400 sites designated as SSSIs, representing approximately 12.6% of the total land area of Scotland. Approximately half of these sites are located in the lowlands and uplands area.  There are over 4,000 sites in England, covering around 8% of the country.  (Source: Scottish and UK Government).

Let us look more closely at this area of land and in particular its SSSI status, with the help of resources freely available in the public domain.

In the Site Management Statement issued by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Leven Valley (Site Reference 927) is denoted as being a SSSI.

Here are some details:

The Leven Valley SSSI forms part of a larger 3000 hectare woodland grant scheme and the interest lies in both trees and rock formations, so described as: Upland Birch Woodland and Dalradian rock, but the scope is of course much wider, covering the flora found in that area.

To give an indication of the extent of the SSSI it is approximately 10 kilometres in length and 6 kilometres wide, so it is very large indeed.

There are no less than eleven specific activities that require not only the landowners’ permission, but permission from SNH, which is funded by the Scottish Government, its purpose being to care for Scotland’s nature and provide support to those who manage it.

However, this consent is not required if the organisers have been given prior ‘planning permission’ from the local authority, under Part III of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

For motorcycle events such as the SSDT, the Pre’65, promoted by Edinburgh & District Motor Club Limited plus any other localised events organised by Lochaber & District MCC who promote the annual Ian Pollock Memorial Trial in the Leven Valley area.

IL photo - Loch Eild Path
The Leven Valley area is one of beauty and home to many plants, wildlife and industrial history. Its use is controlled. Here a rider competing in the annual Pre’65 Scottish in 1998, rides one of the many paths in the area. Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

The specific requirement to apply for consent from SNH is under reference number 26: ‘Use of motorised vehicles likely to damage vegetation’.

Why do we need to legally protect these areas described as SSSIs, why is this particular area deemed sensitive, why is it important and why is it necessary to have such controls?

Private research reveals that the Leven Valley SSSI is home to many different mosses and liverworts, collectively known as bryophytes. Some are very rare, dating back to pre-historic times.

Bryophytes play a part in protecting us, as these soft plants form a huge sponge on the valley floor, slowing down the flow of rain water from the surrounding hills which runs into the burns and eventually the River Leven.

This water slowing effect protects the Kinlochleven area from potential flash floods, given the high annual rainfall locally.

Thinking about it logically, conversely this explains why there are so many flash floods in residential areas nowadays. The ground has been waterproofed by buildings, structures, roads and footpaths so that rain water now planes off faster, causing localised flooding and worse. Flooding can affect us all.

The beds of mosses, blanket bogs and wetlands found in the Leven Valley SSSI area also absorb and effectively lock up, many tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, potentially for thousands of years, into the peat below. That is providing that they are not disturbed, depleted or destroyed, hence the protection provided by SSSI status.

Depletion can occur through invasion by non-native plants such as the Rhododendron, which can spread rapidly, is difficult to control and covers large areas of ground. Similarly, animals such as deer, sheep or cattle roaming free or even inappropriate use by vehicles, can cause damage if not properly controlled or managed.

Now we can see the rationale for protection of this and other areas like it, we can begin to fully understand and appreciate why these areas are deemed sensitive and significant.

Protection does not automatically mean total exclusion of all activities, hence the continued use of the area by major trials events, but this is only achievable by proper application for permissions, negotiation and mutual agreement.

The SSDT has been running since 1911, the Pre’65 since 1984 and the Ian Pollock under its former title ‘Spring Trial’ since the late 1950’s. These events make legitimate use of the Leven Valley.

This does not however give their promoters any legal rights to continue using this ground, purely because of the length of time the events have been in existence.

Most of the ground described above and used in these motorcycle trial events is under the current ownership of Rio Tinto Alcan, a multi-national company whose principal office is in Montreal, Canada.Rio Tinto Alcan is the result of many company mergers and take-overs over the years, tracing its roots back to the British Aluminium Company in 1894 the entity that originally purchased the ground in what is fundamentally the Mamore hill range for the water rights, thus ensuring sufficient water to create power generation for the Aluminium smelter based down in the town of Kinlochleven itself.

Pipeline Alcan
The pipeline under construction. The Leven Valley has an industrial history. Photo copyright Glasgow University Archive (Rio Tinto Alcan)

The SNH Site Management Report in 2008 stated:

“During monitoring in 2002, the SSSI was found to be subject to a number of detrimental influences, the most important being: the spread of rhododendron; grazing/browsing pressure (due to deer and, probably to a lesser extent, stray sheep); annual burning; and motorcycle scrambling”.

In the above statement, let us simply replace the words ‘motorcycle scrambling’ with ‘off-road motorcycle activity’ for additional clarity, for that is what the report eludes to.

By giving cognisance to the above information, we can now begin to appreciate and understand what legislation event organisers have to consider and address fully when promoting a motorcycle trial in this area.

This is why such organisers stipulate that no unofficial following of the event by motorcycle is permitted or condoned, as only insured riders and officials may take machines onto the ground as allowed by the owners and ultimately SNH.

Similarly this is why all event officials must ‘sign in’ with the event control so that they are accounted for, have contact details and are insured under the governing body’s insurers for the permitted event.

Are things now falling into place?

During the research for this article, we spoke with Cathy Mayne, the locally based Operations Officer with Scottish Natural Heritage and the person charged with the task of negotiating with the motorcycle clubs.

Cathy explained: “In terms of use, there is no assumed permission for this, or any other off-road area for motor vehicles. Prior permission from the landowner and where relevant, consent from SNH, would be required for any trials rider accessing any area off the public highway.

There are some issues with casual use on the SSSI, as we have for other areas of land that is so designated and a focus of trials or other off-road vehicular use.

Hence the sensitivity of these areas. Permission for events such as the SSDT, the Pre’65 and Pollock trials are given only after careful consideration, planning and negotiation, with quite a few restrictions and stipulations put in place”.

We have used a land example from Northern Scotland, but of course there will be thousands of similar examples dotted throughout the country.

The Scott Trial, another event over 100 years old, held in the North Yorkshire National Park is another where planning permission is required and for a finite period at that.

Scott Trial action from Sid in 1974. Photo Alan Lampkin Archive.
Scott Trial action with Alan Lampkin (Bultaco) in 1974. The Scott is run in the North Yorks National Park and requires very careful management and permission – Photo Alan Lampkin Archive.

So, we as riders of trials motorcycles do not have any rights to roam, unlike walkers and cyclists, but express permission is required from landowners and even governmental bodies to enable us to ride off-road.

Consider these matters, as illegal riding does directly harm our sport.

There are many other organisations committed to individual and group off-road motorcycle activity other than organised events, for example the Trial Riders Fellowship of England and Wales who make use of BOATS (Byways Open to All Traffic) and UCRs (Unclassified Country Roads), so their members don’t actually ride off-road, they encompass forty-two regional clubs. But in the example we have examined, permission is granted for organised events because of the level of controls afforded by an event and the frequency of such events.

We hope that the reader will now have a more detailed knowledge of this issue and a better understanding as a result.

Do you now understand more about land use restriction and the rationale than before you read this article? If so, then this article has been worthwhile.

Article copyright: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat – 2015

Photograph and Image Copyright:

Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Jimmy Young, Armadale

Alan Lampkin Archive, Silsden.

Neil Mackenzie, Inverness.

Susan Black, Prudoe.

Glasgow University Archive (Rio Tinto Alcan)

Mark Shona

Acknowledgements and Research Sources:

Scottish Natural Heritage (website): www.snh.gov.uk

SSSI general and specific Information for Scotland : www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/protected-areas/national-designations/sssis/

Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC): http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com

Statute: Road Traffic Acts 1988

Auto Cycle Union website: www.acu.org.uk

LARA(Land Access & Recreation Association) website: www.laragb.org

Flood Information (Scottish Environment Protection Agency)

Map of  Leven Valley SSSI 927 – Registers of Scotland:

Trail Riders Fellowship: http://www.trf.org.uk