FC Wales has opened a new family bike trail in Brechfa Forest near Carmarthen. The new route, called the Derwen trail, enables families and beginners to enjoy the beauty of ancient natural woodland as it snakes through 10km of Brechfa forest.
The green graded route, meaning it is suitable for beginners, is the second trail to be built in the Forestry Commission Wales managed woodland following the opening of the Gorlech trail, a more demanding red route which was launched in August 2006.
The trails - a third, extreme black route to be called The Raven is due for completion in October - are part of the Brechfa Bikes Project which is transforming the tourism potential of the woods by creating a network of waymarked mountain bike trails in the 7,000ha diverse woodland while also offering improved facilities for other users.
FC Wales has developed a number of world class mountain bike trails in its woods throughout Wales to feed the increasing demand for this fast-growing sport - and now the area around Brechfa Forest is also benefiting.
Both the family trail and The Raven will start from the Byrgwm car park (two miles east of Brechfa village) with the trailhead marked by two raven wings three metres in height. The "wings" were made by local sculptor, David Lloyd, and are made of oak and Douglas Fir from Brechfa forest which have been scorched black to replicate the colour of the bird's feathers.
The dramatic trailhead which riders will cycle through as they set off into the woods is an historical link to the ravens in the Tower of London, which are believed to have originally been taken from the Brechfa Forest many centuries ago.
FC Wales's Brian Rumble, the Brechfa Bikes Project supervisor, said, "The Raven will be a technically and physically demanding trail which will be at least 30kms long when it's finished."
"The family trail follows the same design as the red, Gorlech trail but the features have been toned down. Riders will get the feel of how the trail works, with berms (banked turns), grade reversals which control speed with inclines and descents, and so on."
"We're confident it will attract many families and people to the area to enjoy these wonderful woodlands."
The Brechfa Bikes Project is a collaboration between FC Wales and Carmarthen County Council in partnership with the community. The project has been funded through European Objective 1 and the Welsh Assembly, with contributions from the partner bodies. There are already signs that the trails are boosting the community's fortunes by providing a destination for families and experienced riders alike.
FC Wales's mountain bike trails in other parts of the country attract thousands of riders every year as their reputation has grown and bring in millions of pounds to the local economy.