Highland Bike Plan - Cairngorm MTB trails take a step forward
Planning applications have now been submitted to Highland Council, seeking permission to create a new mountain bike track in an area covering just over 4.5 acres in Coire Cas, land that forms an “integral part” of the ski resort. A concept for the Cairngorm Mountain trails has been developed through our Bike Plan for Badenoch and Strathspey.
Exciting news for the Highlands as Cairngorm Mountain looks to diversify into mountain biking, on an appropriate scale, following a public consultation process and is one of ten strategies outlined in the 25-year Cairngorm Masterplan that was published in June 2020 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, CMSL’s parent company.
Mountain biking was identified as one of a range of measures to help extend Cairngorm’s appeal by offering family-friendly outdoor activities in every season of the year.
A concept for the Cairngorm Mountain trails was developed through our Bike Plan for Badenoch and Strathspey.
At every stage of the consultation process, we heard about the huge importance of the family market to the area. Badenoch and Strathspey already has great family-friendly cycling on offer with routes like the Old Logging Way from Aviemore to Glenmore, and caters for the more advanced mountain biking at Laggan and Glenlivet and the inspiring landscape of the Cairngorms National Park also has a huge network of paths and trails for more experienced mountain bikers and gravel riders.
Through the Bike Plan, we identified the need for a strategic approach to trail development, by providing a stepping stone between the very easy cycling on the flatter, well-surfaced valley trails, and the more technical trail centres and singletrack.
The concept was a family-friendly bike park on the lower, less fragile slopes of Cairngorm Mountain, that could provide a safe and fun introduction to mountain biking to complement the other activities available on the mountain and through the area throughout the year.
The Bike Plan also supported the creation of community pump tracks, upgrades to existing trail centres and community-led management of local singletrack routes.
Now, less than two years on from those initial consultations we have seen Woodland Wheels build a pump track with our support through the Sportscotland Cycling Facilities Fund. Glenlivet build an amazing blue flow trail, again with support through the Cycling Facilities Fund. Badenoch and Strathspey Trail Association leading moves to more sustainable management of local trails through the Cairngorm Capercaillie Project, and now Cairngorm Mountain developing their family Bike Park plans.
Exciting developments, and with hopefully more to come throughout this year. Our Bike Plan for the Highlands will be available to the public shortly.
Resort operator Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL) has submitted a planning application to the Highland Council, seeking permission to create a new mountain bike track in an area covering just over 1.8 hectares (4.5 acres) in Coire Cas.
The 2.9km of track would be accessed from the main entrance to Cairngorm Mountain at the upper car park, and include zones for beginners and learners as well as more experienced, intermediate-level cyclists.
The introduction of mountain biking, on an appropriate scale, is one of ten strategies outlined in the 25-year Cairngorm Masterplan that was published in June 2020 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, CMSL’s parent company.
Public consultation for the masterplan prompted strong expressions of support for mountain biking as one of a range of measures to help extend Cairngorm’s appeal by offering family-friendly outdoor activities in every season of the year.
The proposal submitted by CMSL has been designed to expand the overall range of outdoor activities available in the local area by offering a service that is distinctive and additional to those already provided by existing businesses.
Care will also be taken to protect and sustain the mountain environment and the flora and fauna living there, both during construction and after the track is opened.
All turf that is dug out when the track is laid will be stored and reinstated, and construction will be timed and managed to avoid damage to plants and disruption to wildlife.
Susan Smith, Cairngorm Mountain chief executive, said: “While snowsports remain hugely important for us, Cairngorm already offers much more, including excellent networks of paths and trails, ranger services, and new facilities like our popular tubing slide and adventure play area for children.
“We see a lot of potential in offering a great range of healthy, fun outdoor activities that whole families can enjoy, in spring, summer and autumn as well as winter.
“Mountain biking can be a great way for people to access Cairngorm, get exercise and experience our wonderful natural environment.”
Dave Macleod of HIE said: “Cairngorm is a perfect setting for the kind of family-oriented biking we’re proposing, and it’s an idea that attracted a lot of interest and support from the local community during our masterplan consultation.
“We’re very pleased to have worked up these plans with CMSL, and with a lot of input from Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland and other stakeholder organisations, who have been really helpful and supportive.
“This is really the first step in delivering the long-term masterplan which ultimately aims to unlock the full potential of Cairngorm Mountain estate as both an environmental asset for the area and a key driver of the local economy, where tourism is so important.”
At the same time, CMSL is also submitting a separate application to create a new hill track in the vicinity of the base station and to realign an existing track in the area of the Shieling mid-station. Both tracks are designed to improve the visitor environment and operational efficiency by providing separate access to these areas for CMSL staff and visitors.
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