Record numbers of mountain biking visitors to the Forestry Commission estate at Whinlatter Forest, near Keswick, have given a boost to its reputation as one of the region’s leading venues for the sport.
Over 30,000 visitors have experienced the thrills and spills of the Altura and Quercus Trails this summer alone.
The Quercus Trail, which was only opened to the public in August, has proved to be the most popular, with over 12,000 riders taking on the 7.5 kilometre blue grade mountain bike route already.
Another draw for mountain bikers at Whinlatter is the Altura Trail, which has attracted over 10,000 riders in the last three months. It is the longest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the Lake District, and opened to the public at the end of last year.
The Altura Trail is a 19 kilometre red grade mountain bike route, with berms, jumps, rock gardens, skinnies, cork screws and table tops to challenge more experienced riders with good off road skills.
During weekends and holidays, as many as 200 riders per day can be found on the Whinlatter bike trails.
Paul Brown, Recreation Ranger for the Forestry Commission at Whinlatter, said:
“The popularity of the mountain bike trails at Whinlatter is great news, and certainly cements its reputation as the region’s leading mountain biking venue.
“With the recent addition of the coaching trail, we hope mountain biking at Whinlatter will become even more accessible for people of all ages and experience.”
Earlier this year Whinlatter became home to the Forestry Commission’s first mountain bike coaching trail in Britain and British Cycling has expressed an interest in using the facilities for their Olympic talent team.
The coaching trail and bike hire facilities are provided by Cyclewise, who also offer junior cycle skill sessions, bike wash and workshops at Whinlatter.
Mountain bike trails are colour graded green, blue, red or black, according to the level of difficulty. Green is the easiest level and black is for expert cyclists. A ‘blue grade’ trail will suit reasonably competent cyclists and mountain bikers of any age with basic off road riding skills.
Together with all the different walking routes and the Go Ape high wire forest adventure courses; Whinlatter is now one of the region’s leading centres for outdoor activities.
The new mountain bike trail developments at Whinlatter are part of an ongoing £500,000 project to improve the visitor facilities at Whinlatter Forest.
The North West Regional Development Agency has helped to fund the construction of the mountain bike trails and redevelopment of the car park at the Whinlatter Visitor Centre.
The Altura and Quercus Trails were made possible thanks to a £50,000 grant from Cumbria Tourism’s Adventure Capital Phase One Fund and a £50,000 grant from Sport England.
Whinlatter Forest Park is England’s only true mountain forest. Rising to 790 metres above sea level, it offers spectacular views of the Lake District and into Scotland.
More information about Whinlatter Forest Park and its cycling facilities can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland.
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