The Department of Economic Development has developed a series of waymarked mountain bike trails through the Island's plantations in conjunction with the Manx Mountain Bike Club and the Department of the Environment Food and Agriculture (DEFA).
Laurence Skelly MHK, Political Member for Tourism in the Department of Economic Development, commented:
‘This is the first stage of a process to develop an all-Island map which will link each of the plantations with roads and green lanes. As highlighted in the Visitor Economy Strategy, we proactively target individuals with an interest in outdoor/active sports and are looking to promote the Island to potential visitors as the ultimate mountain biking destination for beginners as well as a place that offers experienced mountain bikers challenging routes and sections.
‘I would like to thank the Manx Mountain Bike Club and the Department of the Environment Food and Agriculture for working with us to develop this initiative. It shows what can be achieved when Government works in collaboration with industry directly and we are looking at implementing more initiatives through the Visitor Economy Strategic Group and Government’s cross-Departmental working group.’
The routes run through four of the Island's main forest plantations - Cringle, Corlea, Archallagan and South Barrule and cover a total area of 9.9 miles (16 km).
The trail routes featured include the technical challenge of Cringle's vertical ascent and descent either side of the valley, Corlea's fire roads, the fire roads through Archallagan which lead to many twisty paths and the red and blue graded trails around South Barrule.
The Manx Mountain Bike Club has placed a series of unobtrusive information boards at various plantation venues to indicate the routes. The boards are designed to lead mountain bikers through each of the plantations using the main forest roads, which have been waymarked, ultimately linking up each of the four plantations to create a single bi-directional route.
David Gooberman, a member of the Manx Mountain Bike Club commented:
‘This is a great way of demystifying some of the Island's best trail routes between the plantations and opening them up to Mountain Bikers of all ages and abilities. We hope that by waymarking these trails we encourage the Island's sports community and visitors to experience the superb mountain biking that the Isle of Man offers so that it is no longer a well-kept secret!’
Graeme Watson, Access & Recreation Officer at the Forestry Directorate within DEFA said:
‘DEFA continues to work in collaboration with the Manx Mountain Bike Club and other hardworking volunteers to develop mountain bike trails in many of its woodlands across the Forestry Estate.
We are grateful to DED for its investment in this interpretation which will help riders to find these trails. It will also help to popularise other recreational developments that DEFA is investing in at venues such as South Barrule, Archallagan and Conrhenny Plantations.’
The Department has already worked with local enthusiasts to develop a map that features a series of popular trails which are available through the visitisleofman.com tourism website.
The Isle of Man annual calendar also features a series of races including the opportunity to traverse the Island from North to South in the end2end race, the gruelling Longest Day, Longest Ride 24 hour event and the Manx '100' mile or kilometre challenge for experienced competitors and The 'Legs of Man' stage race over two days.