by Ben Haworth
September 8, 2009
Lancashire’s new purpose-built mountain bike trails will be officially unveiled to the public on the Forestry Commission estate at Gisburn Forest, near Clitheroe on Saturday 19 September.
The facilities will include an easy eight kilometre ‘blue’ route for families and beginners and a 22 kilometre ‘red’ course for more experienced and expert cyclists.
The trails, which are set against the stunning backdrop of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, include tricky downhill and boardwalk sections and also offer fine views over the nearby Stocks Reservoir.
Martin Colledge, from the Forestry Commission at Gisburn, says: “We’re excited that the state of the art mountain bike trails have now been completed and can’t wait to introduce them to the public. Because there are a range of trails we hope to make Gisburn a must visit outdoor destination for cycling families and experienced mountain bikers alike.”
The trails are part of the Ribble Valley Sports and Physical Activity Alliance (SPAA) and were completed with the aid of a £60,000 lottery grant from Sport England. £60,000 was also contributed by the project partners – the Forest of Bowland AONB, Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ribble Valley Strategic Partnership, United Utilities and the Forestry Commission.
Gisburn Forest Trail Builders, a group of enthusiastic riders from throughout the region has helped on a number of volunteer trail building days organised by the Forestry Commission. The group has contributed an estimated £15,000 of value to the project by hand building over 1,000 metres of new trail.
The hand built section of trail is very different in character to the machine built areas. Some visiting riders have commented that it is unique and their favourite section of new trail.
In addition, £60,000 was provided as in kind donations; including timber and stone from the Forestry Commission.
Anne Boyd, Sport England’s regional lead for the North West, says: “The trails offer a great sporting experience to all mountain bikers, from thrill-seeking downhillers to families enjoying an active day out. Our investment of Lottery funding in these superb facilities will help recruit even more people to this exciting and growing sport.”
Nigel Pilling from United Utilities, says: “The Forest of Bowland, stretching almost from Nelson to Lancaster, is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The new mountain bike trail will open the forest up even more so that people can get out into the stunning landscapes whilst promoting a healthier lifestyle too.”
Gisburn Forest currently attracts around 30,000 visitors a year, of which 50 per cent of these are cyclists and mountain bikers. It is expected that the number of day visitors will increase to around 70,000 in two years because of the new bike trail development.
The Forestry Commission are working towards providing opportunities for year round visits, as well as developing bridleway and quiet road links that will encourage alternative starting points by cyclists.
As well as mountain biking, Gisburn Forest is also an ideal location for walking, wildlife spotting and picnics.
More information about Gisburn Forest can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland