Woodland near Kelso’s proposed new high school is set to be turned into a mountain biking skills trail for children if volunteers can find £40,000.
Local cycling club Kelso Wheelers hope to install skills areas and a track of at least one kilometre around the edge of the woods on Agraflat Road, near Croft Park.
Kelso’s Charity Begins At Home (CBAH) presented the group with £2,000 earlier this month and the club’s grateful Ian McKenzie, who with Barrie Sweenie came up with the track idea, said: “The donation from CABH sets the ball rolling.”
Ian explained how the idea came about: “We took the kids to Bowmont Forest, but it was a logistical nightmare so we looked about and luckily came up with that wood.
“At the moment, if the kids want to do anything like that they have got an 80-mile round trip to Glentress or Innerleithen and some of the parents don’t have cars. It will give kids who probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to cycle on tracks like that the chance.”
The CBAH money will go towards Selkirk course designer Pete Laing running a three-weekend trail building course for club members and parents, so the volunteers can maintain the track themselves once it is built.
The club is leasing the woodland from landowner the Duke of Roxburghe, who agreed to the project, for five years initially. And it will be paid for from the £1 a week the youngsters pay to attend club nights.
Ian said Pete has a design for the Kelso project “in his head”, but explained: “It depends on what we find when we start digging.”
He hopes to have the likes of a fallen tree for kids to practice their balance, a seesaw and downhill section to teach children braking in the skills sections, aside from the perimeter track.
The club has applied to two sources for the main funding so far; the local cubs and scouts have volunteered to help dig the tracks, a local woodland manager has offered to do maps of the layout of the track and one of the local bankers has come up with a business plan. The group has also taken advice from Border Sport and Leisure.
Ian added: “We are also looking for funding for a storage container and bikes to enable anyone who doesn’t have access to a bike, the opportunity to try cycling.”
Ian , who with Colin Dumma co-founded the Kelso Wheelers in 2000, started cycling as a mountain biker before moving into the road sport.
The club started its youth section almost two years ago, and it is at capacity, with their two-and-a-half coaches working with 26 youngsters aged between eight and 16 every Wednesday night, says Ian.
The section is also one of only two in the Borders to be a ‘Go-Ride’ club, showing they meet British Cycling standards to run its development programme for young people.
The new track will be open to others in the south and east Borders, for school use and hopefully competitions, said Ian.
Anyone wanting to make donations should contact Ian on 07838 841 124, or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org