Published: 23 August 2013
A new £1.8 million Mountain Bike Park will officially open in Gethin Woods, Merthyr Tydfil on Saturday 24 August. The EU backed BikePark Wales is expected to become a major tourism attraction to the region and is proposed to attract 100,000 visitors within three years.
BikePark Wales is part of the Cognation project that has heavily invested in mountain biking throughout the South Wales region over the past two and half years.
Cognation mtb trails South Wales is a partnership project between Neath Port Talbot CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Natural Resources Wales and BikePark Wales. The project is part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government with match funding coming from the Welsh Governments Heads of the Valleys Strategic Regeneration, BikePark Wales and partner organisations.
BikePark Wales have taken the best aspects of various resorts around the World to create an unique and ground breaking approach to the bike park model; some have already dubbed it as ‘the welsh whistler!’ BikePark Wales has a visitor centre, café, car park, bike shop and rental, vehicle uplift service and a range of diverse mountain bike trails.
The BikePark will operate very much like a ski resort providing a vehicle uplift service that will transport riders and their bikes to the top of the mountain where they can choose from a selection of six downhill trails. The trails are graded (similar to ski pistes) two blue, two red and two black. After completing the high adrenaline decline on the mountain, they will then be picked up at the bottom and taken back to the top for more downhill action. It will allow riders to have between 12-15 runs a day.
BikePark Wales will also provide a cross country trail, family trail and pump track (a short loop to help improve riding skills). There will also be mountain bike tuition available for youngsters and newcomers to the sport.
Anna Walters from BikePark Wales said: "After 5 years of preparation and partnership working we are delighted to be opening this unique, first of a kind facility. What we have created is a truly first of a kind facility that will undoubtedly bring considerable tourism benefits to the local area. We can’t wait to see the smiles on the faces of our customers when they ride our trails for the first time."
The project is revolutionary in the way it has been set up; a partnership between the private and public sector. BikePark Wales have a lease with Natural Resources Wales to manage a private enterprise in Gethin Woods. The project has received support and funding from Welsh Government, Local Authorities and Natural Resource Wales.
Minister for the Economy, Edwina Hart, said: “I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support the development of BikePark Wales through the European Regional Development Fund. BikePark is an iconic development for Wales which will raise the profile of South Wales as a mountain biking and cycling destination. It is set to be the UK’s first ever large commercial mountain bike park which will hopefully attract around 100,000 visitors a year and have the capacity of hosting international events. I’d like to congratulate both private and public sector partners on working together to realise this vision and wish the park every success for the future.”
Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said: “The new Bike Park at Gethin Woods is a great development for local people and visitors so they can get out enjoy the fantastic natural environment we have in Wales. It will provide a real boost for the economy in this area and support local businesses as Gethin Woods will be another top destination in south Wales for mountain bike enthusiasts and families.”
Mountain Biking is fundamental to the tourism industry in Wales and BikePark Wales will initially employ 12 members of staff which are vital jobs to the local area. They will also link with local businesses including accommodation providers which will result in a wider economic benefit for Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding area.
Leader of the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Councillor Brendan Toomey, said: “BikePark Wales is set to become a National attraction and will provide employment for local people as well as helping the local economy and becoming a community hub, not only for mountain bikers but for anyone wishing to enjoy the outdoors.
“The opening of BikePark Wales at Gethin Woods is an excellent opportunity for Merthyr Tydfil to raise its profile as part of the world-class mountain biking on offer in The Valleys and this will subsequently highlight the County Borough as a place where people will want to visit, enjoy and return to.”