Our project manager Steven Liddle met Lord Sebastian Coe recently to showcase the project's potential in terms of fitness in the community and the provision of a trail network suitable for all abilities from beginners to elite series mountain bike events.
The project was initiated by the Trust in 2008 via a Scottish Forestry Grant Scheme (SFGS) funded public feasibility study, which explored the potential for restoration of the prominent designed landscape, along with the potential improvement of recreation facilities within the policies for all user groups.
Steven Liddle said: "The project has had widespread support from Sustrans, CTC (The UK's National Cyclists' Organisation), Scottish Cycling, The Hebridean Cycle Club, Scottish Natural Heritage, SGRPID (Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate) and the Western Isles Health Board. A special mention has to go Emma Macsween of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar who's support has been instrumental in the project's success."
Chair of Sustainable Development Committee, Councillor Archie Campbell commented: "I am delighted that the Stornoway Trust's cycle trail project for the Lews Castle Grounds has secured the funding required to enable the Comhairle's investment through the Community Sports Partnership.
"The facility has the potential to be a big draw to cycling enthusiasts as the project will include a network of paths designed to attract the whole spectrum of abilities from recreational cyclists to those wishing to compete at a high level. The standard of the project has attracted national interest and we would like the facility to be the host venue for national competitions in the future. The Castle Grounds are a unique facility and I am pleased the people are finding new and innovative ways to utilise them."
To facilitate the management of the various aspects of the project, the Trust successfully obtained a Woodlands In and Around Towns (WIAT) contract to create a peri-urban long term forest plan, which details recreation and access, invasive species control, silvicultural management and restoration of the gardens built features.
Resulting from the WIAT contract, the Trust then successfully obtained 500k through the Scottish Rural Development Program (SRDP) for control of invasive species such as Rhododendron Ponticum and Salmonberry as stage 1. This was followed by another successful SRDP bid for funding for the purpose built cycle trails of 90k, along with partnership funding of 130k from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
As part of the SRDP project, the Stornoway Trust will be creating two new positions to complete the work on the trails, with a view to starting the trail building by July 2010. The project is split into three separate phases with a construction deadline of April 2011, when it is hoped the trails will host a national series event to mark their opening.
The Trust secured the services of Pete Laing to develop the initial trail designs created by members of the Hebridean Cycle Club, to ensure the trail system would be amongst the best in Scotland once completed, leading to an attraction to compliment the islands wealth of existing natural trails.
Throughout Scotland we provide a management service for estate, farm and forestry assets. If you would like to find out more then contact our or visit the rural section of our website