Forest Enterprise (promoted by a local cycling group) have proposed an extensive technical mountain bike network entirely in the FE-owned woods around Badaguish and the Sluggan in Glenmore. The intention is to set up a range of intermediate and advanced routes on the slopes of Craigowrie and the meltwater channel carrying the Milton Burn. The facility will be at the standard currently seen at Nevis Range and Glentress in the Borders. An earlier proposal at Inshriach was blocked by SNH due to impacts on capercaille and water supply and this area has been proposed as an alternative.
We have sought advice from Adam Gordon who represents cyclists on the Cairngorms Partnership Recreation Forum. He has some concerns about one part of the proposed course and any possible extension onto the Kincardine Hills. We have followed his advice in formulating our comments to FE.
In principle we are very supportive of this proposed development. There is an ever-increasing demand for such facilities and, at present, insufficient locations to satisfy current demand, with consequent use of inappropriate sites. We already work closely with a number of organisations that are improving footpath networks. Some of their work is undone when cyclists stray onto unsuitable paths. We therefore encourage the development of cycle routes in suitable locations to provide interesting and challenging trails that will attract local and visiting cyclists to come and to come back. This plan appears to provide a range of levels of trail.We understand that the proposed development fits with Forest Enterprise's existing designation of the area for recreation.
With the addition of National Park Designation, visitor numbers will only increase. Catering for these visitors is an important part of the rural economy and needs support like this. Some visitors will be seeking a mixture of activities during their stay and it is appropriate that the proposed network is close to other attractions in Speyside. We would encourage you also to consider other areas that may be suitable for similar facilities, so that the pressure on this one does not become excessive and the benefits are spread across the region. In this and other areas we hope you will consider ways to minimise conflict between different types of activities/user. The area is attractive to walkers but not unique and limited displacement can probably be accommodated nearby without much disturbance.From the brief description of the proposal that we have found, the network is appropriately contained in the commercial plantations. Given that, the impact on the environment is small compared to the felling that will follow in time.
One concern that we have is over the inclusion of an area to the north west of the management area, east of the Milton Burn and formerly owned by Pityoulish Estate. This area has been managed differently and is of high landscape and wildlife value. We feel it would be inappropriate to extend the network into this area. We are unaware of evidence from other locations on the impact of such a development. At this stage it must be difficult to estimate the load-carrying capacity and the demand for special events leading to at least partial closure of the network. We would prefer to see the network developed gradually, with monitoring of the levels of usage and any adverse effects.
Properly planned we feel that this is a proposal that deserves our support.
I trust that these comments are helpful to you. We would be pleased to hear
more about the project and its progress. Equally if we can be of further assistance,
please get in touch.
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