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New mountain bike Tsar for South Scotland Forests


The new Tsar (bottom left) and trailbuilding courtiers

A new “biking Tsar” has been appointed to run the £2m Seven Stanes project which will create purpose-built mountain bike centres across the south of Scotland.

Karl Bartlett, formerly a Forestry Commission ranger at Mabie Forest (near
Dumfries), is taking up the task of turning the Borders and Dumfries and
Galloway into a mecca for mountain bikers.

At the heart of the project is the construction or enhancement of seven biking centres in the Tweed Valley, Newcastleton, Ae, Mabie, Dalbeattie, Kirroughtree and Glentrool between 2002 and 2004. Each site will have different trails catering for families through to experts. The centres themselves will provide, parking, toilets, picnic areas and what the organisers call “environmental and interpretation facilities”, which in the absence of any better idea, we’ll take to meaning bins and clear sign-posting.
Some of the centres are going to have play areas for families.

The project is something of a joint effort, it’s being managed by the Forestry Commission and Scottish
Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway with partners Dumfries and Galloway &
Borders Tourist Boards, Scottish Enterprise Borders, Scottish Borders
Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Solway
Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

All these joined forces to raise £1 million for Seven Stanes, but thanks to funding from Europe that matches the amount raised here, organisers now have £2 million to work with. Hopes are that the centres will bring in millions for the local economy through an increase in tourism.

“This is a dream job for me but one that’s going to have many challenges” explained Karl. “My goal is to make the Seven Stanes project a household name known throughout Britain and overseas.

“We now have a dedicated team of trailbuilders who are already carving of some fantastic trail in Dalbeattie forest and work is soon to begin in Newcastleton in the Borders. We are getting some rave reviews of the trails in Glentress Forest near Peebles and it’s this kind of positive publicity that we want to build on – especially if we want to attract the 2004 World mountain bike championships.”


Not just another bit of flat fire road then!

The planned key features of each biking centre are as follows:

Tweed Valley
Glentress Forest will act as the springboard for the seven centres. Existing
trails and facilities have been enhanced and a new cafe “The Hub” has
recently opened. New or improved trails can be expected at Traquair Forest
in the future.

Newcastleton Forest
Substantial investment in new facilities includes a network of new trails
for beginners and experienced mountain bikers plus toilets and car parking. Key to this centre is a trail which will directly link to
Newcastleton. Bikers will be able to use the village’s facilities before and
after rides.

Ae Forest
Investment will make this area into a major competition venue boasting both
an existing downhill course and a massive new “endurance length” cross
country trail.

Mabie Forest
Attracts 100,000 visitors already each year. The famous “Riks Red Route” is
to be doubled in length and added family routes will attract riders of all
abilities.

Dalbeattie Forest
A popular holiday destination on the Solway Coast. A new singletrack trail
and new visitor facilities to be developed.

Kirroughtree Forest
The trails at Kirroughtree will be developed to appeal to families and
fairly experienced bikers.

Glentrool Forest
Based around the visitor centre this venue will play host to a major stamina
sapping technical cross country route as well as newly enhanced trails.

After what we’ve heard of Glentress, we can’t wait to have a whole range of centres to choose from. Wonder when England will start catching up with Wales and Scotland?

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