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The Forestry Commission is celebrating its latest successful mountain bike venture on its estate at Gisburn Forest, near Clitheroe, in Lancashire, having recorded over 20,000 visitors to its recently opened trails.
The new waymarked trails, which were opened in September last year, are still being developed, but are fast becoming the one of the county’s premier mountain biking centres.
The Forestry Commission is also expanding the current infrastructure, particularly the car parking areas, to cope with the extra influx of visitors.
The facilities 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.
Andy Banks from the Forestry Commission at Gisburn, says:
“To have such an overwhelming public response to the new trails at Gisburn is brilliant, and great reward for all the hard work put in by staff and trail building volunteers
“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.
Gisburn Forest was attracting around 30,000 visitors a year, of which 50 per cent of these are cyclists and mountain bikers, but 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
NOTES TO EDITOR
1. Images of cyclists on the Forestry Commission estate at Gisburn Forest are available by calling 01524-782086.
2. The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain, with responsibility for more than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.
3. The Active Woods campaign aims to alert people to the link between trees, woodland and forests and human health and wellbeing. Research has shown that exercising in natural environments reduces stress levels and can speed recovery from illness. For more information see www.forestry.gov.uk/activewoods-england
4. Sport England invests National Lottery and Exchequer funding in organisations and projects that will grow and sustain participation in grassroots sport and create opportunities for people to excel at their chosen sport.
5. This year marks The National Lottery's 15th Anniversary. Thanks to Lottery players more than £23 billion has been raised for Good Causes. Over 325,000 grants have gone to projects large and small, from arts and sports, to heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary sector, making a difference to people, places and communities all across the UK. For more information visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
6. For more information about the Ribble Valley Sports and Physical Activity Alliance please visit www.ribblevalley.gov.uk.
Martin Colledge on 01200-448256 or 07774 293920
Andrew Banks on 01200-448256 or 07980 850707
Sue Gardiner on 01229-862002