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Cairngorm resort operator submits application for mountain bike track

Published: 08/02/2022

Family-focused mountain biking could be the next healthy attraction at Cairngorm Mountain.

Resort operator Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL) has submitted a planning application to the Highland Council, seeking permission to create a new mountain bike track in an area covering just over 1.8 hectares (4.5 acres) in Coire Cas.

The 2.9km of track would be accessed from the main entrance to Cairngorm Mountain at the upper car park, and include zones for beginners and learners as well as more experienced, intermediate-level cyclists.

The introduction of mountain biking, on an appropriate scale, is one of ten strategies outlined in the 25-year Cairngorm Masterplan that was published in June 2020 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, CMSL’s parent company. 

Public consultation for the masterplan prompted strong expressions of support for mountain biking as one of a range of measures to help extend Cairngorm’s appeal by offering family-friendly outdoor activities in every season of the year.

The proposal submitted by CMSL has been designed to expand the overall range of outdoor activities available in the local area by offering a service that is distinctive and additional to those already provided by existing businesses.

Care will also be taken to protect and sustain the mountain environment and the flora and fauna living there, both during construction and after the track is opened.

All turf that is dug out when the track is laid will be stored and reinstated, and construction will be timed and managed to avoid damage to plants and disruption to wildlife.

Susan Smith, Cairngorm Mountain chief executive, said: “While snowsports remain hugely important for us, Cairngorm already offers much more, including excellent networks of paths and trails, ranger services, and new facilities like our popular tubing slide and adventure play area for children.

“We see a lot of potential in offering a great range of healthy, fun outdoor activities that whole families can enjoy, in spring, summer and autumn as well as winter.

“Mountain biking can be a great way for people to access Cairngorm, get exercise and experience our wonderful natural environment.”

Dave Macleod of HIE said: “Cairngorm is a perfect setting for the kind of family-oriented biking we’re proposing, and it’s an idea that attracted a lot of interest and support from the local community during our masterplan consultation.

“We’re very pleased to have worked up these plans with CMSL, and with a lot of input from Development for Mountain Biking Scotland and other stakeholder organisations who have been really helpful and supportive.

“This is really the first step in delivering the long-term masterplan which ultimately aims to unlock the full potential of Cairngorm Mountain estate as both an environmental asset for the area and a key driver of the local economy, where tourism is so important.”

At the same time, CMSL is also submitting a separate application to create a new hill track in the vicinity of the base station and to realign an existing track in the area of the Shieling mid-station. Both tracks are designed to improve the visitor environment and operational efficiency by providing separate access to these areas for CMSL staff and visitors.