Cash boost moves Bo’ness bike trails scheme forward

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PROPOSALS for mountain bike trails at Kinneil Woods have shifted up a gear with the award of a grant allowing the designer behind the famed Glentress Forest trails in the Borders to do a feasibility study into the Bo’ness project.

Pete Laing, one of the country’s top designers and also responsible for The VAT Run in South Queensferry, has been commissioned by the White Lady Mountain Bike Trails committee following a £1950 grant for a feasibility study from Falkirk Environment Trust.

Delighted treasurer Bob Keltie said this week: “This is the first tangible evidence that things are very much on the go.”

Committee members met on site with Pete two weeks ago. “It’s amazing, a real feather in our cap to get somebody of his calibre involved,” said Bob.

“It has the makings of being a first-class trail centre.”

Pete told the Journal and Gazette: “I was really impressed by the wood.

“It’s a big area with lots of interesting terrain and parts of it are absolutely ideal for mountain biking.”

He added: “These community projects are really where it’s at at the moment. People want to mountain bike near to their back door rather than travel.”

Pete aims to complete the study - involving measurements and costings - in October.

“It will cover phase one, a pump track or skills area for beginners, hopefully near the car park entrance,” said Bob.

“And then we are hoping to have three different trails built in the woods, with different skills, with the most demanding at the end of the woods, coming down to the curling pond area.”

They would be away from walkers and horseriders, Bob said, and current on-site materials, like fallen trees, would be used.

The committee will submit the feasibility study to Falkirk Community Trust, which manages and maintains the estate for Falkirk Council and which has been devising a long-term forest plan.

“Falkirk Community Trust need to say yes or no to the feasibility study. As long as it’s in line with their plans for the woods it should be plain sailing after that,” said Bob.

The committee plan to get a single funder for the project.

“Given the success of mountain biking, particularly in the Olympics, we’d hope to get funding from the lottery or CashBack for Communities, for example,” said Bob. “We will apply to all these people.”

The community council and Friends of Kinneil back the plans, Bob added.

Community council convener Madelene Hunt is co-opted on the committee, as are councillors Ann Ritchie and Sandy Turner, plus youth worker Gordon Baxter.

Martin Bonnar, the trust’s parks and sustainability team leader, said the forest plan proposed several changes to the estate woodland, with phased felling of much existing coniferous woodland, then replanting with native broad-leaved species which will boost bio-diversity.

“Responsible access will be a key component of the forest plan and of the estate in general,” he said.

“As such, we are supportive of the White Lady Mountain Bike Trail Group’s plans and look forward to the delivery of the feasibility study which we will take into account in the implementation of the forestry activities and with the development of the path and trail network.”