Funding has been provided for a new off-road route connecting the 7stanes mountain bike trail centres at Glentress and Innerleithen in Scotland. The Tweed Valley path, along a former railway line, will also pass through the town of Peebles and the village of Cardrona.
The scheme is expected to cost around £800,000. The majority of that will come from the Scottish Government, in the form of £599,965 of newly announced Rural Priorities funding. A further £200,000 will come from the Scottish Borders Council and sustainable transport charity Sustrans.
Planning permission for the path was granted in March 2009 and the first phase, between Peebles and Eshiels, was completed in May last year. The Rural Priorities funding means the rest of the work can now go ahead, with the route expected to be completed by December 2012. The money will pay for trail building, bridge construction and waymarking.
Bill Meadows, Forestry Commission Scotland's manager for the Borders and Dumfries, said: "[The state funding] is great news and we're very supportive of the new trail network which will link the Commission's famous Glentress and Innerleithen 7stanes mountain bike centres. There are lots of fantastic developments happening around the Tweed Valley, including the new Glentress Peel visitor centre. To have these forest tourism attractions linked up together in this way is a real boost for the communities involved and the local economies too."
A feasibility study commissioned by the council suggests some 27,600 cyclists are likely to use the route each year, along with 22,400 other users. Officials hope the path will appeal to families – a 2006 study identified that the area would benefit from more 'low level' routes appealing to recreational cyclists – as well as improving access to the 7stanes centres. Glentress is the most popular visitor destination in the Scottish Borders, with around 300,000 trips per year.