Falkirk group plans for new adventures

Robin Smith, Leanne Scott, Dave Bennet and Steven Wallace of the Bespoke group
Robin Smith, Leanne Scott, Dave Bennet and Steven Wallace of the Bespoke group

Ambitious plans for more outdoor and adventure pursuits in Falkirk have been unveiled by a community group.

The Bespoke Community Interest Company is on track to organise a local triathlon and bring kayaking along the Union Canal to the area as part of proposals they hope to implement within the next 18 months.

The group of dedicated volunteers was established to enhance outdoor access in the Falkirk area by maintaining, developing and promoting countryside paths for walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers.

However, they have extended their remit and have organised events like a Christmas running and cycling duathlon on the extensive Bespoke forest trails on the Callendar Estate.

Plans now include family-oriented events like triathlons that will feature kayaking on the Union Canal to entice more local people to participate in healthy outdoor pursuits.

Organiser Dave Bennet (44), from Lionthorn, said: “We were established a year ago to try to improve outdoor access opportunities around Falkirk. “It’s difficult for us to maintain and add to the network that exists just now and it’s difficult to find funding for it too, but we want to make sure the good work that has gone before carries on.

“We aim to raise awareness of the facilities available locally, which are fantastic and some of the best in Scotland.

“There were 30,000 individual visits here last year, which is a great indication of the number of people who use the trails.

“We have around 60 members and volunteers who do a range of work within the local community.

“We recently provided outdoor work experience days for local schoolchildren and there are plans to continue working with Falkirk Council’s education services to provide more outdoor opportunities.”

Part of the ongoing work is maintaining the path network through Callendar Wood and the surrounding land, including community wood-land at Lionthorn.

Future developments involving Bespoke include the Falkirk section of the new John Muir Trail, which will run from Dunbar to Helensburgh.

There are four trails - Kilbean (3.4km); Auchengean (6.8km); Canada Trail (4.1km); and Craigieburn (3.4km) - which can also be accessed from the Falkirk Wheel and Falkirk High Station following the Union Canal tow path.

Projects receive funding from the likes of the European Regional Development Fund, Falkirk Council and Falkirk Environment Trust.

The group also hopes to open a bike shop, event space and a café at the Greenrig car park off Falkirk’s Slamannan Road.

For information on how to get involved visit the group’s Facebook page or email Dave at davebennet8@gmail.com.