22nd March 2007
Scottish Minister Sarah Boyack visited the famous Wolftrax Mountain Bike Centre today to see how it is gearing up for an even bigger future with its latest development.
The Wolftrax Mountain Bike Centre is based in the Strathmashie Forest in Laggan, part of the Cairngorms National Park and has become one of the Park’s great success stories since opening just over two years ago.
Since its official opening in September 2004 it now boasts around 16,000 visitors per annum, contributes an additional annual spend of £280,000 locally and £390,000 to the Highlands and Islands Enterprise and has seven full-time staff.
Such is the interest in the popular destination that work is now underway on developing and extending the range of routes on offer. Funding for the second phase has yet to be finalised, but will come from a number of organisations including the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).
Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Sarah Boyack, visited Wolftrax today (Wednesday March 21st) to see the plans for Phase Two and what it will mean for the Centre and wider community.
The Minister said: “I have been very impressed by what I have seen. It is a very innovative project that has put Laggan on the map, it has created seven jobs which were not here before and there are 16,000 to 20,000 people a year coming for this facility. All of that is very good news for the future.
“The Wolftrax success is down to strong collaborative work between a number of partners. It has involved Forestry Commission Scotland working in partnership with Laggan Forest Trust to manage the forest as well as input from Scottish Natural Heritage, CNPA, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highland Council.
“I think it gives hopes for the future of this area, for other projects in the Cairngorms and Scotland of what you can achieve when people work together.
“This really is a good exemplar of how to co-ordinate and bring investment into an area, while respecting the scenic value and getting people out into the countryside.”
Wolftrax caters for experienced mountain bikers and novices, as well as families with a range of routes on offer from fun to technical. The Phase Two development will see expansion of the range of routes on offer, as well as providing a vital off road link from the Centre to Laggan village. This “missing link” was highlighted during public consultations on potential core paths and will be included as a draft core path in the next round of public consultation. It will encourage a more sustainable form of transport between the community and the development and will also avoid cyclists having to travel on the A86 trunk road.
David Green, Convener of the CNPA, said: “We are really pleased that the Minister has visited the Wolftrax and is impressed with what is happening here.
“It is something that everyone involved in it is rightly proud of. It has turned an area which was previously a minor tourism destination into one of the most popular recreational destinations and brought a boost to the local economy, which is one of the four aims of the National Park – to promote sustainable economic and social development of local communities.
“The Centre also embodies the core working ethos of the Park – a partnership approach.
“We are excited about the latest phase of development because it will allow even more people to enjoy what is on offer.”
David Jardine, from the FCS, said: “Forestry Commission Scotland was delighted to show the Minister the developing work at Laggan Wolftrax. The recent evaluation of the first phase has shown that the facility is providing significant economic benefit to Laggan.
“Plans for the second phase are now well developed with work on the new green utility route progressing well.”