The £1.8 million Mountain Bike Park in Merthyr Tydfil was today officially opened by the Minister of Culture and Sport, John Griffiths AM.
BikePark Wales is already becoming a major tourism attraction welcoming over 20,000 visitors within the first five months of opening, as well as holding the Welsh National Downhill Championship in October 2013.
BikePark Wales is part of the Cognation project which has heavily invested in mountain biking throughout the South Wales region over the past three years. Cognation mtb trails South Wales is a partnership project between Neath Port Talbot CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Natural Resources Wales and BikePark Wales. The project is part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government with match funding coming from the Welsh Governments Heads of the Valleys and Western Valleys Strategic Regeneration, BikePark Wales and partner organisations.
As the latest purpose built mountain trail centre in Wales BikePark Wales has over 23 sections of mountain bike trails ranging from black national downhill trails to a family trail and pump track (a short loop to help improve riding skills). As well as this diverse offering of trails BikePark Wales also has a visitor centre with café and bike shop and rental facilities, car park and vehicle uplift. The uplift service offers riders the chance to be transported to the summit of Mynydd Gethin in order for them to enjoy the descent. It is possible to complete around 10 runs a day using the uplift; those who have the stamina are welcome to pedal to the summit under their own steam.
The project is revolutionary in the way it has been set up; a partnership between the private and public sector. Mountain Biking is fundamental to the tourism industry in Wales with BikePark Wales already employing 14 members of staff which are vital jobs to the local area. They are also linking with local businesses including accommodation providers which will result in a wider economic benefit for Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding area.
Anna Walters from BikePark Wales said ‘After 5 years of preparation and partnership working we are delighted to be officially opening this unique, first of a kind facility in Merthyr Tydfil. What we have created is a truly first of a kind facility that will undoubtedly bring considerable tourism benefits to the local area. The number of riders we have welcomed through the doors over the last five months has been much more than we could have anticipated and we hope this level of visitors continues’.
Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths, said: “Providing high quality experiences for cyclists of all abilities like those on offer at BikePark Wales will support the growth of a cycling culture which we aim for in Wales.
Getting children and young people active at an early age, and then ensuring that they keep active, is important if we are to make a difference to the health of Wales in the long term. Centres such as this can play an important role in achieving this ambition in addition to providing a boost to both the local and Welsh economy.
Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said: “This new development at Gethin Woods is a great facility for local people and visitors so they can get out enjoy the fantastic natural environment we have in Wales. It will provide a real boost for the economy in this area and support local businesses as BikePark Wales becomes another top destination in South Wales for mountain bike enthusiasts and families.”
Leader of the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Councillor Brendan Toomey, said: “BikePark Wales is already becoming a National attraction and has provided employment for local people as well as helping the local economy not only for mountain bikers but for anyone wishing to enjoy the outdoors. A number of accommodation providers in Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding area have already benefited from BikePark Wales, hopefully this will encourage other new start ups and expansions.
“The opening of BikePark Wales at Gethin Woods is an excellent opportunity for Merthyr Tydfil to raise its profile as part of the world-class mountain biking on offer in The Valleys and this will subsequently highlight the County Borough as a place where people will want to visit, enjoy and return to.”
For more information on BikePark Wales visit www.bikeparkwales.com