SHEFFIELD is set to underline its reputation as a magnet for mountain bikers with a trail through woodlands on the south west edge of the city.
Enthusiasts are drawing up plans for a 2km ‘family friendly’ loop through Lady Canning’s Plantation at Ringinglow.
“It will be a place where people can get into the sport and I think it will be a real asset to Sheffield,” said Henry Norman, of the group Ride Sheffield, which is behind the project. “It will be a safe environment on the edge of the city and straddling the Peak District.”
Just as Sheffield attracts large numbers of climbers because of its geography, so mountain bikers are flocking to the city. “It’s the reason I came to Sheffield,” said Henry, who works for the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans. “There is a big community here just because of it, and there has been quite a few bike shops opening recently.”
Enthusiasm is reflected in an “overwhelming” response to a request for donations towards the Ringinglow project, with an acceptance that the landowners, the council, cannot provide any funds.
Individuals have given anything from £5 to £100, and there have been offers of professional help from the likes of doctors, solicitors and accountants.
The initial target is £7,500, although the route can be developed further if more money comes in. It is being designed to reflect the character of the woods, avoiding paths for walkers and horse-riders, and creating a loop suitable for riders of all levels, but especially for beginners.
Already the plantation, off Ringinglow Road, is used informally by mountain bikers. Now the aim is to put it on a more organised footing.
Providing a point of contact for mountain bikers and countryside organisations, Ride Sheffield has grown to more than 1,000 members, with a wide range of ages.
It helped to design the mountain bike trails through Greno Woods in the north of Sheffield and at Parkwood Springs, and it has the support of the council’s parks and woodlands and rights of way teams for the Ringinglow scheme.
Plans will be thrown open for consultation before any final decisions are taken. The track could be up and running by the autumn.
Other advantages of the location include the size of woodland, car parking, good draining soil and a four mile traffic free ride along the Porter Valley from Hunters Bar.
In particular, Ride Sheffield is encouraged by the “phenomenal” success of the mountain bike trail at Parkwood Springs, which attracts riders from across the region. “It is a really growing sort and is a growing industry,” said Henry.
*The third Steel City Race through Greno Woods, backed by mountain bike champion Steve Peat, is on May 4 in aid of Sheffield Wildlife Trust, which has bought the woods.