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NEWS RELEASE No: 1362024 MAY 2010

Pensioner helps launch stunning bike route in Kielder

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Man on cycle with sign in background

From pensioners to fresh faced youngsters and mums and dads – bikers of all ages are set to hit the trail in even greater numbers in Kielder Water & Forest Park!

The Kielder Partnership has today (Monday, 24 May) opened the longest ‘blue’ graded mountain bike trail in England – stretching across 20 kilometres of stunning Border landscape – and built at a cost of £330,000.

Unveiling the route – which is aimed at family and causal bikers – was Carl Poulter from Hexham. The 35 year old been appointed to an exciting new role to get more folk to saddle up in Kielder under an initiative by the Forestry Commission, Hoseasons and CTC (Cycling Touring Club) in partnership with Purple Mountain Bike Centre and Northumbrian Water.

He was joined by local bikers, including 81 year old Hexham pensioner, Harry Manuel, who is possibly the oldest off-roader in the Upper North Tyne and training for a John O’Groats to Lands End marathon ride.

It’s yet another amazing challenge for a man who has been a jockey and a cowboy and who took up biking to help recover from a hip replacement operation.

Trail builders are hailing the new blue route as a massive step forward in encouraging more people to take up biking and improve their riding skills.

Alex MacLennan, Recreation, Tourism and Communities Manager with the Forestry Commission, explained:

“We have created world class facilities at Kielder, including the Deadwater trail with its demanding black rated section and England’s longest red route for intermediate bikers keen on pulse quickening action. But the blue route is the missing piece in the jigsaw. It will open up the sport for those wanting to progress from all ability trails like Kielder’s Lakeside Way and take on a wee bit more off road action. It’s a tremendous new asset to the area and will attract leisure riders from far and wide.”

The opening of the new blue route coincides with Carl Poulter’s appointment as the first bike and leisure officer in Kielder Water & Forest Park.

It’s a dream job for the keen outdoor fan who took up mountain biking only four years ago, but whose rapid progress has seen him become a qualified guide. Carl said:

“I want to share my passion for both Kielder and biking. It's a terrific way to experience one of Britain’s truly great landscapes and also a fantastic way to keep fit. I’ll be running events and leading rides at Kielder, Hawkhope and Leaplish, all with the beginner and leisure biker very much in mind.”

Kielder Water & Forest Park was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. For more go to

1. Image: 81 year old Harry Manuel leads bikers down the newly opened blue cycle route in Kielder Water & Forest Park - the longest of its kind in England designed for leisure riders and all ages groups.

2. Starting near Kielder Castle Visitor Centre, the blue route snakes through spectacular mixed woodland and climbs to over 1,000 foot at Grey’s Pike, affording breathtaking views of the Border landscape, before looping back using the Lakeside Way. Much of the new route is suitable for bikes towing children’s buggies, with other sections involving climbs and gentle twists and turns. Waymarked throughout and surfaced with locally sourced stone, the trail head is located near the start of the forest drive from Kielder Castle to Byrness.

3. Funding for the new mountain bike trails has come from the Northumberland Strategic Partnership via Single Programme funds from One NorthEast, European Regional Development Fund, Forestry Commission and the Kielder Partnership.

4. The Kielder Partnership is a public, voluntary and private sector collaboration working to develop Kielder Water & Forest Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun. Partners are the Calvert Trust Kielder, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council and Northumbrian Water, plus representation from community groups. The Northumberland Wildlife Trust is an associate member.

Richard Darn on 01226 246351. Mobile 0775 367 0038.
Philippa Clark, Communications Advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538, 07970 897 756 or