Pentlands mountain bike path and rollercoaster bid

Bike trails are planned for the Pentland Hills. Picture: Bill Henry
Bike trails are planned for the Pentland Hills. Picture: Bill Henry
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A MINI-ROLLERCOASTER, hydropark and alpine garden are all set to be built in the Pentland Hills under plans aimed at turning the area into a year-round mountain-biking mecca.

Ambitious proposals would see around 12 kilometres of dedicated mountain bike trails created next to Swanston Farm on the edge of the Pentlands in south Edinburgh.

Developers say income from attractions such as a 600-metre long “roller luge” – featuring buggies designed to speed down a specially designed track – will support public access to the bike trails.

They estimate no more than 500 bikers regularly make use of the hills but have identified a potential market of around 310,000 users across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Additional income at the Swanston events centre would be generated by a new cafe and shops, developers said.

Costings have not been provided but it is understood the total investment needed to build new bike tracks and other attractions is likely to run to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mike Jardine, of Rare Management, which is overseeing a feasibility study into the plans, said: “This is very much low level, easily accessible and perfect for getting people into cycling.

“It’s about providing a learning environment which allows people to be brought on and coached properly, without any traffic issues.”

Owners said 30 years of steady growth at Swanston Farm had led to the emergence of a wide range of agricultural and business activities.

In addition to cattle and sheep farming, there is a horse livery yard and golf course, while a number of farmhouse buildings have been converted into offices and holiday homes.

The plans come after planning permission was granted for a Travelodge hotel opposite the nearby Hillend ski centre.

Mr Jardine denied the Pentland Hills were at risk of development creep, stressing none of the new activities would be motor-powered.

“The area is already used for intensive recreation,” he said. “This is not drastically different from what’s going on there already. It’s not even in the main region of the Pentlands. It’s a couple of hundred metres from the bypass. There’s also the golf course and the Hillend ski centre. This adds to what’s there at the moment.”

Local leaders said new outdoor activity and education opportunities were welcome and that they would comment on the proposed centre when detailed blueprints are available.

Dennis Williams, chair at Fairmilehead Community Council, said: “It’s got to be the right development for the right reasons – they are beautiful parks.

“Once we have seen the plans, we’ll have a better idea. The developers need to work in partnership with the local residents.”

BLAZING SADDLES

BLUEPRINTS for a new urban mountain bike and BMX trail in the Capital will be unveiled today.

Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for Commonwealth Games and sport, will reveal plans for a track on the outskirts of Holyrood Park – one of 47 across Scotland benefitting from the Scottish Government’s £10 million Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund. She will be accompanied by Angus Calder of Braidwood bikepark group, Simon Turner of Crags Community Sport Centre and Stewart Harris, chief executive of Sportscotland.