Skills Loop action at Hamsterley Forest
It’s all happening in Hamsterley Forest, County Durham. £200,000 has gone into a skills loop and link trail, with a further £25,000 paying for the Descend Hamsterley 4X course. And there’s more to come s, with a proposal for a 20 mile intermediate/expert grade trail jumping its way through the necessary hoops right now.
Just as important as the actual trails at MTB centres are the centres themselves – these days visiting riders expect a café, bike shop and all the rest of it. Which brings us neatly to the agreement just reached by the Forestry Commission for a new bike hire and servicing centre at Hamsterley.
The new centre, called Wood’n’Wheels, will stock high-end bikes and gear for the experienced rider but also be able to furnish visiting novices and families (of which there are many) with all they need to explore the 5,000 acre forest at their own pace.
The centre will be run by Durham resident Martin Stout. He’s a qualified mountain bike leader and has been riding in Hamsterley since the 1980s.
Alex MacLennan, Recreation, Communities and Tourism Manager with the Forestry Commission, said:
“The new mountain bike centre is a crucial element in our long-term vision for Hamsterley. While we’re busy creating trails, we also need top class back-up facilities to entice more folks to experience the thrills of biking, whether novice or enthusiast. But we are not stopping there. Last year saw the opening of a skills loop and Descend Hamsterley 4X downhill course and now, with our partners, we are aiming to build a 20 mile intermediate red grade route and an awesome black grade trail. Our partners, including Hamsterley Trailblazers, are working hard at securing funding to make this all happen on the ground. Ideally we would love to see trail construction start later this year. This will underline the forest’s emergence as a world class centre for cycle sport and further boost tourism in the North East.”
The new centre will open on Saturday 1 April and will be open every day from 9am to 6pm all year round, which should keep Martin busy. Subject to planning consent, it will move into a new barn-style building later this year, complete with a “chill-out zone”, internet access, refreshment point, bike wash and workshop, offering full servicing and bike repairs by a qualified mechanic. It’ll also be running maintenance courses and will host a short junior training loop allowing riders to master their machines before heading out into the forest.