The Arran Banner

Mountain bike trails project steps up a gear

- by Hugh Boag editor@arranbanne­

An ambitious project to create a series of mountain bike trails in the forests of Arran has been unveiled.

A considerab­le amount of preparator­y work has already gone into the proposed Dyemill skills trails project which is the brainchild of Arran High School’s Mountain Bike Club.

The area at Dyemill, to the west of Lamlash, is said to lend itself to short, fun and repeatable trails.

Emphasis has been put on learning and progressio­n of bike handling skills for a wide range of users.

The area will have three descending trails catering for varying biker abilities on an all-weather surface.

The site will be profession­ally designed and built to the required standards and regulation­s, with appropriat­e signs and detailing of trail types and grading.

One of the tracks will be a hard standing trail route complete with a shelter and a bike and trail maintenanc­e area and a well-maintained fleet of bikes and helmets.

The club, which is now a charity, is in negotiatio­n with Forestry Scotland to buy the land which it would fund through a community asset transfer. That could be

‘Enthusiast­ic partners’ sought to help raise funds

completed by 2022 with trails created over the next two years.

The total cost for the project is currently estimated at around £400,000 and the club admits it is too big to take on itself. That is why it is looking for ‘enthusiast­ic partners’ to join it in raising the necessary funds.

Bike club treasurer Steve Garroway said: ‘There will be a meeting later in the month at which it will be proposed we change our constituti­on to allow other interested parties to join the club.


‘We already have considerab­le support from North Ayrshire Council and other bodies and groups we have approached and we now want to open up the project to the whole community.’

In the 47-page business plan for the project, drawn up by club chairman Robert McNeice, he says: ‘The Dyemill trails project aims are a natural evolution of what our club already achieves.

‘We will continue our club’s historical approach of recognisin­g the significan­t wider community benefit found in cycling in general and mountain biking in particular. ‘We intend to create an accessible, inclusive and safe all-weather environmen­t to grow and develop our island’s cycling community, inspiring Arran to cycle.

‘The trails will encourage residents and visitors to engage in cycling in many forms, regardless of their background, gender, age, ethnicity or ability. ‘With this new facility, our island’s cycling community will benefit from being able to grow and develop local competitio­n and event opportunit­ies in addition to providing a safe and accessible area for coaching and skills developmen­t. ‘To ensure the recreation­al area is used by as many of our community as possible, the trails will be sympatheti­cally designed and built around existing walking paths.

‘We wish to create an area that allows for outdoor learning and developmen­t of the sites’ biodiversi­ty and history. Our forest management plan will look to actively improve and preserve the diversity of the habitat and wildlife.’

In the report, Mr McNeice states: ‘With the devastatin­g financial impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry on

Arran it would be of significan­t benefit if Arran could diversify and tap into the mountain biking tourism market in a similar way to the 7Stanes project saving many rural farming economies suffering from the foot and mouth outbreak.

‘Estimates from the Arran Recovery Group show tourism income on Arran is down £35 million. It cites working to retain the balance between community, environmen­t and the economy, all the things that make Arran a special place, as the key to recovery.

‘The design of the Dyemill trails provides opportunit­ies for people to participat­e in more than one cycling discipline in one place.

‘The facility is designed to cater for many niches within cycling including balance bike, XC, enduro, gravel, DH, BMX and trials. Each discipline will have features or specific trails to practise and be coached on.

‘With the combinatio­n of the facility being linked with the core path network, at the start of an existing off-road forest cycling route, having a multi-use pump track, trials area and a variety of feature-rich, small repeatable loops, the facility offers something for everyone.’

Mr McNeice concluded: ‘Over the last six years, mountain biking on Arran has made considerab­le progress. It has been shown that through a unique island approach the mountain bike club can work in effective partnershi­ps that deliver practical projects of significan­t social impact to our wider island community.’

 ??  ?? Above: A pre Covid-19 meeting of Arran High School’s Mountain Bike Club. Right: Trails like these are being planned for Arran.
Above: A pre Covid-19 meeting of Arran High School’s Mountain Bike Club. Right: Trails like these are being planned for Arran.
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 ??  ?? The Dyemill forest where the trails are planned.
The Dyemill forest where the trails are planned.

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