Forestry Commission Continues to Encourage Cycling

Posted by chdot on May 20, 2008

The Forestry Commission has come a long way since 1919 when it was created to deal with timber shortages caused by the First World War. The main demand was for pit props which resulted in swathes of straight growing trees being planted, in rigid formations, on many UK hillsides.

In recent decades this has been ‘softened’ with a broader range of tree species used. Importantly the Commission has had it’s role changed and it also plays an important part in leisure and tourism. As the FC web site states: “We are constantly looking for ways to share our knowledge, plan activities and develop new initiatives to provide benefits for the economy and for our health and wellbeing.”

In Scotland one major development has been the creation of Mountain Bike trails for all levels of rider. Scotland is now seen as probably the best place in the world for this type of cycling. Fairly close to Edinburgh is the (genuinely) world famous Glentress – one of the Seven Stanes.

Glentress has the Freeride Park the fairly easy Skills Loop, and several routes including the challenging Red one. Now a new trail has been added – the ‘Mushroom Pie’, which is a Red Route option avoiding the Matrix section. This trail has been built over the past few months by the Glentress Trailfairy volunteers. Anyone can volunteer – even under 12’s if they go with an adult, (under 16’s need a signed letter of consent from a parent/guardian).

Further north and west there is network of trails through Sunart Oakwoods (location map) which has just been highlighted in a new leaflet, (available here – map side, info side). It could form part of a great car-free adventure – train to Oban, ferry to Mull, ferry to Drimnin or Localine, train back from Fort William. (And cycle the bits in between of course. Bikes are taken free on all ScotRail trains, but have to be booked on these routes.)

Or a ferry from Tobermory (Mull) to Ardnamurchan, for the trails there, or (more likely) after visiting some of the 64m of tracks around the Fiunary Forest for an alternative route to Fort William or even north to Mallaig, train back from there, or perhaps on to Skye and other islands!)

The Commission (which is headquartered in Corstorphine) is planning Bike Week activities for its staff. They can also buy bikes as a result of the Government’s ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme, which the FC was wisely decided not to tie to a particular bike shop or national chain.

In addition it’s about to host a meeting for key people to discuss proposals for “2009 Scotland’s Summer of Cycling”. It’s great to see any organisation – especially a public body – taking a wide ranging, active, interest in ‘cycling’.

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