A new downhill track has been created at Kidland Forest in the Cheviot Hills, and it's set to host its first race next month.
The black-rated run is the result of two years' work by riders' group Northern Downhill in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Northumberland National Park Authority.
Packed with twists, turns and technical features, and described as "steep and fast", the sub-three-minute track will be used solely for competitions.
The first race at the venue will be the opening round of the new Northern Downhill Series, on 4-5 April. It is expected to attract up to 150 riders.
Northern Downhill member Philip Grimes, from Durham, said: “We've eyed Kidland for some time as a potentially brilliant venue. The terrain lends itself to fast and hair-raising action.
"Downhill biking is a massive sport in the UK, but until now we’ve often had to make long treks to Wales or the Highlands to take part in races and get an adrenaline rush. Now we've created a new race series and venue on our doorstep.”
The Northern Downhill Series has been sponsored by MX1, Ride Central, Rockstar Energy and Hope, and the Park Authority has given a £1,000 grant. Other legs will be held in County Durham, the North York Moors and Cumbria.
Alex MacLennan, from the Forestry Commission, said: “There’s a big demand for race venues which are well designed and sustainably managed. Fortunately the North East has some fantastic locations with dramatic countryside.
"This new championship will draw people into the region and keep us at the forefront of developing exciting new locations for biking.”
Andrew Miller, the Park Authority's northern operations manager, said: “We’re pleased to support this first event for the cream of mountain bike riders to enjoy. The Upper Coquet Valley is very scenic with many welcoming B&Bs and the National Park Rothbury Visitor Centre can help entrants to find accommodation for the weekend.”
Northern Downhill Championship
- Kidland Forest, Cheviot Hills – 4-5 April
- Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland – 2-3 May
- Cartlon Bank, near Guisborough – 4-5 July
Scratchmere Scar, near Penrith – 8-9 August
- Venue to be confirmed – 10-11 October
For details of how to enter, go to www.northerndownhill.co.uk