New Cycle Centre opens in the National Forest
The new £1.5 million Hicks Lodge National Forest Cycle Centre, near Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire, opened this week, as keen local cyclists burst through the ribbon and set off on the inaugural trail ride.
Hundreds of people turned out for the event, many bringing their own bikes, or hiring them on-site. Families with trailer bikes and tagalongs were keen to try out the trails and one couple turned up with a specially adapted cycle for less able bikers.
The centre, at the heart of The National Forest, features a stunning eco-friendly visitor centre with café, bike hire and repair shop, showers, a wood-burning stove for chilly days, and eight miles of graded off-road trails.
The centre has been developed through a partnership of the Forestry Commission and the National Forest Company, and is particularly suitable for families and novice cyclists. While youngsters will enjoy the twists and turns of the most technical route, there are wide surfaced trails for buggies and tagalong bikes. Non-cyclists can also enjoy the trails and young woodland on the dual use trails for walkers and cyclists.
The official opening was followed by guided rides and other fun activities. The centre is run by Purple Mountain, which already runs the massively popular cycle centres at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire and Kielder Forest in Northumberland. There will be a lively summer programme of guided rides, family fun days, cycling skills sessions and evening trail rides, to encourage everyone, from toddlers to ‘silver cyclists’, to saddle up and enjoy the trails.
Catherine Graham-Harrison, Chair of the National Forest Company, and Ian Hickman, Forest Management Director for the Forestry Commission, spoke at the event to celebrate the opening of the new centre.
Catherine said: ‘This is a fantastic example of how partners in The National Forest work together, and what can be done with what was, just a few years ago, a very sad piece of land, after intensive mining and mineral extraction. But, as people who know The National Forest will know, this is what we do. We have taken thousands of acres of less than ideal land over the years, and turned them into thriving woodlands and other habitats, providing novel ways for people to enjoy the new landscapes: though walking, picnicking, listening to birdsong – and indeed, cycling. This centre is a brilliant facility for local people and visitors alike, and we hope the trails – and the café - get very well used and enjoyed from the word go.’
Ian said: ‘I'm delighted to be a part of the celebrations at the opening of the new Hicks Lodge National Forest Cycle Centre. A large part of our job is to make woods and forests accessible to all and to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. The trails here are designed specifically for families and beginner cyclists and I hope many people will use and enjoy these facilities. Projects like this could not always happen without the excellent partnership work that is in place and reiterates the benefits of Big Society.’
The project has been funded by 6Cs Strategic Green Infrastructure Growth Fund and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership. It is another outstanding environmentally sustainable building by architects Pick Everard, following their success with YHA National Forest. The Cycle Centre visitor centre is heated by a wood chip boiler, energy generation is by solar panels and the building uses recycled rainwater. The trails are free to use, and there is a small car parking charge: £1 per hour up to a maximum of £3 for the day.
For further information on Hicks Lodge, the National Forest Cycle Centre, visit: purplemountain.co.uk/hicks-lodge/