£850,000 to be spent on MTB routes for Kielder25/07/2008 News
The Kielder Partnership has announced that work is underway to build two “breathtaking” long-distance trails, costing £850,000. When completed later this year, they will give the 62,000-hectare Northumberland wilderness one of England’ biggest networks of purpose-built single track trails.
Funding has come from the Northumberland Strategic Partnership via Single Programme funds from One NorthEast, European Regional Development Fund, Forestry Commission, Tynedale Council and the Kielder Partnership
A 14.2 kilometre blue graded trail will open up the vast landscape to casual and intermediate riders, while a tougher 18.7 kilometre red route will take in higher elevations and linking with the 7Stanes biking centre on the Scottish side of the Border at Newcastleton.
Tourism chiefs predict the new developments will create major economic spin-offs for the region.
Alex MacLennan, Recreation, Communities and Tourism Manager with the Forestry Commission, said:
“We’ve made massive strides in developing facilities and bike tourism at Kielder Water & Forest Park in the last three years. Last autumn we unveiled the 670 metre Deadwater Trail, England’ highest single track route, which has helped us achieve international recognition. This latest investment will provide thrilling new opportunities for bikers of varying abilities, giving unique access to one of Europe’ most majestic landscapes.”
The trailhead for both routes will be at 18th century Kielder Castle, a former hunting lodge of the Dukes of Northumberland. Three construction teams have begun work on the all-weather trails, which will be surfaced with thousands of tonnes of crushed local stone. Wildlife and ecological surveys have been undertaken to ensure bikers steer clear of sensitive conservation sites.
The blue trail will be the longest route of its kind in England, taking in rolling terrain and offering magnificent views of the Border hills. Riders have the option of taking a longer route which drops down to Kielder Water, before linking into a new section of the Lakeside Way for a return trip of over 20 kilometres.
The more strenuous red route takes in the majestic Lewisburn inlet and involves hard climbs, rewarded with stunning vistas down the North Tyne Valley and a bird’ eye view of the new £480,000 Kielder Observatory.
Forging its way to the Border, it passes the “Bloodybush Pillar”, scene of a clash between English raiders and their Scottish pursuers in the days of the Reivers. Beyond lies the existing cross-border trail and the 7Stanes off-road centre. Plans for the route also include a one kilometre section of elevated timber trail to take riders over a wetland area, ensuring bikes don’t get bogged down, while protecting a valuable habitat. This style of trail, known as North Shore, will probably be the longest stretch of its kind in England.
Elisabeth Rowark, Director of the Kielder Partnership, said:
“Sustainable tourism is the key to our vision to make Kielder Water & Forest Park one of Europe’ top outdoor destinations. That means providing world class facilities, while retaining the Park’ unique wilderness character. These new trails meet those goals, boosting the area’ all year round visitor appeal, while offering bikers a route to explore this sensational landscape.”
Kielder Water & Forest Park is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe. It was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.