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A highly popular and lauded mountain biking trail in the West Midlands is celebrating its first birthday.
The Monkey Trail at the Forestry Commission's Cannock Chase will be officially one year old on April 17. It has enjoyed a huge success during the past 12 months with it being ridden more than 100,000 times, which has resulted in 1 million miles of healthy riding by bikers – the equivalent of biking around the world 51 times.
During this time the route, which starts at the Birches Valley Visitor Centre, was also voted as the ‘Reader Trail of the Year’ by readers of the popular magazine Mountain Bike Rider. They ranked it as being better than all other man-made trails as well as the islands’ thousands of kilometres of bridleway.
Andy Coggins, Forestry Commission visitor services manager at Cannock Chase, said:
“I am absolutely thrilled at the way the trail has been received by its users. We have had well over 100,000 rides since the launch with more than a million miles of healthy riding – this makes all the hard work and dedication of the Chase Trails volunteers and the Forestry Commission worthwhile.”
Sponsored by bike manufacturer Giant, The Monkey Trail was an 8 kilometre extension to the existing ‘Follow the Dog’ trail. The trail, which is characterised by short sharp climbs and long flowing descents, was created by a partnership between the Forestry Commission and a group of local volunteers called Chase Trails.
Rob Lamb, of Chase Trails, said:
“It is great to see how well received the trail has been by the thousands of people riding it every week. This has been very rewarding for all the volunteers who gave up their time to help design and build it. We are really proud of what we have created and love riding it.”
There is a bike shop and bike hire on site at Birches Valley called Bike Chase which is run by local bike shop Swinnerton Cycles.
Bike Chase owner Jack Swinnerton said the trail’s reputation has spread wide and far. He said:
“We have noticed an increase in local people visiting the way-marked tracks but also more visitors travelling greater distances to experience the trails.
“Visitors’ comments are always very complimentary – often saying how brilliant they are and are up there with the best in the country.”
The Monkey Trail was created as part of a £200,000 investment in facilities at Cannock Chase.
Chase Trails volunteers and partners raised more than £60,000 for the project, £28,000 of which came from the Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme. Sport England awarded the initiative £130,800 of National Lottery funding.
Large sections of the trail was also built by specialist trail builders Clixby’s, from Oakamoor in Staffordshire, who previously constructed singletrack mountain bike trails for the Forestry Commission at Dalby forest in North Yorkshire, Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria and the descent line at Stainburn, near Leeds.
Chase Trails volunteer group, cycle brand - Giant UK, Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme, Staffordshire County Council, the Sport England Community Investment Fund and the Forestry Commission all contributed to the project.
For more information about recreational facilities at Cannock Forest and other Forestry Commission woodland around the West Midlands visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westmidlands and www.forestry.gov.uk/cannockforest.
Note to Editors
The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The West Midlands region covers the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands and parts of Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Jason Maclean (Environment Manager) on 01889 586593 or email Jason.email@example.com
Rowan Clark (Education Officer) on 01889 586593 or firstname.lastname@example.org