The Forestry Commission, working with SingletrAction, an independent local riders’ organisation, has announced a £400 000 plan to create 50 kilometres of new routes in the 8600-acre wood, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.
Construction work will start in July and is due for completion by December 2007.
Backing for the project has come from the European Union’s Objective 2 funding programme, which is providing more than £140 000. The Forestry Commission will contribute £200 000, with the remainder coming from private
Alan Eves, Forest District Manager, said:
"The creation of an all-weather and sustainable network is a central part of our vision for Dalby.These new facilities will be a massive tourist draw for people of all ages and abilities. That will mean a boost to the local economy. We have already worked up detailed plans and done a full environmental assessment to make sure the trails avoid sensitive conservation areas."
Current bike routes in Dalby use pre-existing trails, re-designated for off-roading. Since 1997 these have been colour coded, denoting their degree of difficulty , in a scheme that has spread to other UK forests. But the routes have become increasingly difficult to maintain and can become very muddy in wet weather.
"To some extent they have become a victim of their own success," said Adrian Carter of Pace Cycles, Kirkbymoorside, who helped design the new trails.
"What’s really needed is a completely new network, using natural materials to armour the track against wear , and using the flow of the terrain and natural features to create a riding experience unique to Dalby."
The network has been designed in the shape of a clover leaf, allowing the route to be tackled in four sections and giving bikers flexibility to plan their rides . A fifth segment may be built if additional sponsorship can be secured.
Preparatory work has already begun. A 30-metre corridor each side of the route is being thinned of trees so its exact path can be optimised. This will also help in maintenance and ensure timber harvesting steers clear.
Last year the Forestry Commission unveiled ambitious plans for Dalby Forest. With support from Europe, Yorkshire Forward and Ryedale Council, an £860,000 "Courtyard" project to create craft units, a resource centre, office space and a bike hire outlet around the existing visitor centre, is nearing completion.
Alison Biddulph, director of the European Secretariat at the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber, said:
"This is an exciting project that promises to give a real boost to the local economy by expanding tourism in the area in a novel way. The EU’s Objective 2 funding programme is dedicated to promoting such innovative economic development, supporting business growth and connecting people to opportunities, with more than £320 million being invested across the region over six years."