Riding in Dalby Forest (Pic: Tony Bartholomew)
Hot on the heels of Hamsterley Forest’s £200,000 trail-building project comes news of an even bigger (or at least, more expensive) project at Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire. Local club SingletrAction and the Forestry Commission have announced a £400,000 plan to create 50km of purpose-built trails in the 8,600acre wood.
Construction on the project, claimed to ultimately be “England’s most extensive network of purpose-built and sustainable mountain bike trails,” will begin in July and is due for completion by December 2007. A big chunk of the money is coming partly from the European Union’s Objective 2 funding programme (designed to boost regions where particular industries and services are in decline), a bigger chunk from the Forestry Commission and the rest from private sponsorship.
One of those sponsors is local manufacturer Pace Cycles. Commenting on the difficulties of maintaining Dalby’s existing trail network, Pace’s Adrian Carter said, “To some extent they have become a victim of their own success. What’s really needed is a completely new network, using natural materials to armour the track against wear, and using the flow of the terrain and natural features to create a riding experience unique to Dalby.”
The design of the new trail network uses four separate loops in a clover leaf shape, allowing riders maximum flexibility – do as few or as many as you like in any order you like. There’s a fifth loop on the drawing board, but that’ll be dependent on some more cash being found.
Pivotal to the project is local club SingletrAction, formed in 2003 to improve trails in North Yorkshire. The club’s Lee Owen-Stanford said, “The chance to help create a new, purpose-built route is the ultimate for all off-roaders. This project will put Dalby on the map and allow it to compete with the world-class routes created in Scotland and Wales.”
That’s not all that’s going on at Dalby. There’s also £860,000 going in to a “Courtyard” project to include craft units, a resource centre, office space and bike hire outlet around the existing visitor centre. And a decision is expected soon on an all-new £2.5million visitor centre.
So there you go. You wait years for large-scale trail projects in England, and then two come along at once.