A group of Aberdeenshire cyclists are campaigning to raise £250,000 to create woodland trails that will help keep future generations of youngsters active.
The Deeside Bike Collective charity has been granted permission to take on 20 acres of hillside on the northern outskirts of Banchory, near the old Glen o’Dee Hospital, from Forestry and Land Scotland.
The group is now trying to amass the thousands of pounds needed to purchase it, and to create the trails catering for all abilities they ultimately want to snake through the woods.
Keen cyclist Kev Harper is one of the leading lights behind the Banchory Woodland Trails campaign.
The oil industry professional was joined by fellow group member, Mandy Prowse, and her five-year-old daughter Holly to show us around the site.
Little Holly, who has a bright pink bicycle, is exactly the sort of person the Deeside Bike Collective has in mind as members forge ahead with the project.
Trails ‘not just for cyclists’
Kev said: “There has been a sale agreed for the land, and now we are working with some funding agencies to secure the grants we need to pay for it.
“These trails won’t just be bicycle tracks, other groups in the area can use them too and there will still be plenty space for people going out walks.
“They would be for anybody who needs safe access to an outdoor area, we are really keen for them to be used by future generations of young people.”
Buying the land, through a community asset transfer, will cost more than £100,000 and it is estimated that creating the trails could cost about £150,000.
Kev said: “We are now speaking to local community groups to make sure that what we develop is what the people want.
“Predominantly, we are wanting to get younger generations involved at this stage.”
Mandy added: “This will bring more people into the Banchory community, and help the local shops as well.
“Since lockdown, cycling has become so popular and people are getting outside more now.
“People are realising how good cycling can be for mental and physical health.
“These trails will be accessible from the town centre, and suitable for everybody to use.”
The Deeside Bike Collective recently completed an “Everesting challenge” as members ramp up their fundraising efforts.
A team of eight members – including Kev and Mandy – hopped on their mountain bikes to complete a cumulative 62 laps of the Chutney trail in Balfour Forest.
That adds up to a total ascension of 8.848m – the height of Mount Everest.
At last count, the tally stands at about £2,500.
Many said: “It was quite tough, it was quite a climb.
“What was amazing was we had two 15-year-old members join us, and they completed six laps of the trail each.”