Tarland Trails 2 project supports region’s ambition to be leading adventure tourism destination

Work is to start on new £750k Mountain Bike Trail Centre in Tarland.

By Dawn Renton
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 8:43 am
Work is to start on a new £750k Mountain Bike Trail Centre at Tarland
Work is to start on a new £750k Mountain Bike Trail Centre at Tarland

This is a landmark investment to meet the growing market demand from people keen to access the sport.

The project, led by Tarland Development group, will provide a purpose-built range of trails to develop mountain bikers of all levels. The investment will help grow participation and help clubs develop future mountain biking athletes and is a key step towards delivering the region’s ambition to be a destination of choice for the fast-growing adventure tourism market.

The storms across the winter of 2021/22 have had a huge impact on many homes and businesses across Aberdeenshire. There is a growing number of businesses whose livelihood depends on visitors and locals being able to access mountain bike trails.

This was recognised by the steering group of the North East Adventure Tourism partners Opportunity North East, Scottish Enterprise, VisitAberdeenshire and Scottish Cycling, through its department Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, secured £350k for the project from the Scottish Government. The funding recognised the impact of last winter’s storms on the area and the increasing economic importance of adventure tourism for people and communities in the area.

The funding helped unlock £300k of National Lottery investment from the Scottish Cycling/ sportscotland Cycling Facilities Fund to support the project’s participation and sport development aims. The full funding profile has been complemented by existing fundraising by Tarland Development Group along with private donations.

Sports Minister Maree Todd said: “I’m delighted that communities in Aberdeenshire will benefit from this investment through the Cycling Facilities Fund. Facilities such as this will act as a catalyst for change, support the increase in people cycling during the pandemic and deliver a lasting legacy following the 2023 Cycling World Championships.

“Being active outdoors has such a positive impact on health and wellbeing and helps us achieve our vision of an active Scotland where everyone benefits from sport and physical activity for their physical, mental and social health.”

Leading trail construction specialists CRC have been appointed to deliver Tarland Trails 2 which will include blue, red and orange graded trails on the slopes of Pressendye and Pittenderich hills, looking across the Howe of Cromar, a trail head with parking for 100 vehicles, and environmentally friendly toilet facilities. The Macrobert Trust Estate and private landowner Mr and Mrs Dalgarno have provided a lease to secure the project site for years to come. The facility is predicted to be a huge hit with locals and visitors bringing a host of benefits to this part of the region and beyond as the destination grows its adventure sports offering.

The development is a follow up from the hugely successful phase one project at Tarland Trails which has become a hub of activity for riders. The driving force behind the project has been Tarland Development Group and, in particular, the groups acting Chairperson, Chris Redmond.

A project long in the making Chris commented: ”It is fantastic to realise our ambition of creating a trail centre in Aberdeenshire. Our first phase (Tarland Trails 1) was opened in 2015 and has been an amazing success for the area providing locals and visitors, particularly children, young people, and families, with an opportunity to ride safe, fun, and accessible trails.

“This new development will help the village sustain its business community, attract young families to the area, retain young people in this rural area, and help improve the physical and mental health of users.

“The trail centre has been realised by the commitment of our volunteer board and I would like to thank my fellow trustees as well as the landowners for their time, energy, and expertise to make this happen. I would also like to extend my thanks to those who have supported us, particularly, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland and North East Adventure Tourism, and all the funders of the project.”

Matt Lockley, Scottish Enterprise Head of Place for the Aberdeenshire region said: “Set in the beautiful Pressendye hills, this new trail will be a valuable addition to Aberdeenshire’s adventure tourism offering. It will contribute significantly towards the ambition of the North East Adventure Tourism Programme which aims to develop a strong and sustainable visitor economy that plays to the strengths of the north east. Scottish Enterprise is pleased to work with partners in the region to support the project, not only will it attract greater visitor numbers to Aberdeenshire but it will be a fantastic facility for local communities providing greater sustainable access to the countryside whilst supporting business growth and employment in the region.”

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: "With the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships coming to Scotland people will be inspired to try cycling in all its forms and with this development of Tarland Trails, aspiring and existing mountain bikers will have a fantastic facility to test their skills and progress in the sport.”

North East Scotland is identified as an emerging destination within the Scottish Mountain Bike Strategy, which includes the creation of a large-scale purpose-built trail centre as a key strategic action.

Will Clarke, Aberdeenshire MTB and Adventure Tourism Development Manager, said: "DMBinS and NEAT are delighted to have supported the delivery of this project by securing this critical funding. Tarland Trails 2 will contribute to many long-term ambitions shared by the NEAT partners around health and wellbeing, active lifestyles, athlete progression pathways and sustainable economic benefits for Aberdeenshire.

“We have been working with a range of community driven projects over the last four years and we hope this is just the start of more infrastructure projects being delivered in the area.

“NEAT aims to harness the north east’s vast array of natural assets, transforming a rapidly growing sector into a market facing industry, creating sustainable growth and jobs for rural communities. Within 10 years, projects included in NEAT could increase visitor spend in the region by over £120 million and create 500 jobs.”