Activity centre will attract thousands to Falkirk

THE MASTERMIND behind a new mountain bike and outdoor activity centre is confident it will attract thousands of visitors to the area.

A 700,000-plus funding package will allow the bosses who set up BeSpoke to turn the innovative plans into a reality with the first phase due to be open by next summer.

The project is the brainchild of Guy Wedderburn from Callendar Estate and it will create a six-kilometre network of paths and trails, as well as 10 kilometres of purpose-built graded mountain bike tracks.

Along with opportunities for mountain biking, walking and horse-riding, BeSpoke also hopes to offer paintball and airsoft activities to give tourists and locals a wide range of outdoor pursuits.

Mr Wedderburn said: "It has taken a lot of effort to pull the funding package together but, thanks to financial help from Falkirk Council and

Falkirk Environment Trust, and support from the Falkirk Area Riders

Access Group and the Lionthorn Community Woodland Association, we now have an excellent opportunity to create a visitor destination that complements other attractions in the area, helps contribute to the local economy and provides better access to the countryside for local communities."

Initially, mountain bikers and others leisure visitors will be able to access the routes from The Falkirk Wheel, but eventually it is planned to have its own centre at Craigieburn Farm to include a cafe, cycle hire and shop.

Months of planning saw funding secured from the Scottish Rural Development Programme.

It followed an earlier feasibility study last year that showed the project could attract up to 125,000 visitors annually, create 30 full-time jobs and inject 1.25 million into the local economy from tourist spending.

Mr Wedderburn added: "It's modelled on the highly successful 7stanes project in south-west Scotland which attracts around 400,000 visitors.

''However, the proposals for BeSpoke will have a greater emphasis on mountain biking for beginners and family days out."

Welcoming this week's announcement, Councillor Linda Gow, Falkirk

Council leader, said: "This is fantastic news. There are clear links and synergy between the BeSpoke proposal and other tourism, community, countryside and environmental objectives of the council, in particular

The Helix and The Falkirk Wheel."

Sinead Feltoe, Regional Director for VisitScotland, said: "Mountain biking is a fantastic, year round, healthy outdoor activity for all ages which attracts many visitors to Scotland every year. The 7stanes trails in the south of Scotland have proved hugely successful and using this model to develop a mountain biking facility in Callendar Estate provides a great opportunity for Falkirk to attract more visitors"