Following trail upgrades and amenity provision at Glentress forest, near Peebles, visitors increased from 50 000 to 300 000 in five years, boosting the local economy. This spawned the Euro-funded 7Stanes trail-building project which has seen the success replicated across other parts of Scotland. Now, Northumberland could benefit from the same level of MTB trail provision.

Scotland’s MTB feelgood factor to travel south?

The Forestry Commission is inviting MTBers to have their say on whether Kielder Forest could be the next Glentress.

Currently, many MTBers journey from the NE of England to Peebles, a two hour car journey from Newcastle.

Kielder Forest is a 45 minute car journey from Newcastle. The current routes in Kielder are non-demanding for DHers.

A volunteer trailbuilding team has been established in the 155 000 acre woodland, aimed at constructing singletrack routes.

The new group will allow enthusiasts to shape Kielder’s future as a top mountain bike destination, said Alex MacLennan, recreation, communities and tourism manager at the Forestry Commission:

"Volunteer trail building teams have worked well in other areas. Bikers get a big say in the design of routes and their construction, before riding the trails. We know there’s plenty of enthusiasm for this move, which many local off-road fans have been urging for a long time."

Trailbuilders will meet once a fortnight on Saturday mornings, starting in November, and take a ride into the forest in the afternoon.

"Kielder is so vast that there’s huge scope to create trails for everyone, from novices and families to advanced riders. Its sheer size also means we can cater for other forest users like walkers and horse riders with little conflict. By creating all-weather trails, biking in Kielder would be a year-round activity, which is good news for local pubs, restaurants and hotels," said MacLennan.

There’s already waymarked MTB routes in Kielder. These were devised by Ken Bone who has been operating an MTB hire centre from Kielder for 20 years. This attracts school groups during the week and families at the weekend. Bone is a contemporary of Arthur Phillips, the entrepreneur who first developed a MTB hire centre at Glentress.

While Kielder forest is owned by the Forestry Commission, Kielder water, a man-made reservoir, is owned by Northumbrian Water. Many of the waterside amenities also also owned by Northumbrian Water. The company operates a hugely successful Christmas experience each year in the forest. 4000 families get to meet Father and Mother Christmas and their prezzy-making elves. In future years, perhaps they’ll also meet hordes of North Shore riders?

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