There’s been talk about Blaenau’s downhill biking for a few years, with recent progress marked by the uplift road reaching towards the top of the mountain. But for me, on an icy, misty Saturday morning, this was the first time I got really excited. Simon from Antur Stiniog and Ceri led about 30 of us up the mountain to see the work in progress.
Great care has been taken to design and create the downhill biking in a sustainable manner, not just in environmental but also economic terms. With a choice of 4 trails of varying severity Blaenau will appeal to a wider cross section of bikers as opposed to other downhill centres where there is just a single extreme trail. It will also be an all year round operation, albeit snow and ice will of necessity close the uplift road and trails. At the bottom of the trails in the car park will be the jump site (free of charge) next to the cafe with visitor centre and viewing platform above. Unlike other subsidised downhill centres, this one has been designed to be self-sustaining.
The cafe will sell basic foods for bikers but will encourage customers wanting meals to go down the road to Blaenau with a safe cycle route to aid them on their way. It sounds like the whole business and biking community in the Vale of Ffestiniog has the opportunity to benefit.
Prices have not yet been fixed but it is likely there will be permits for a day, for a half day and for a ‘single hit’ – I’m not sure about the choice of words but this sounds like the option for me. Market rates will dictate the prices but the day ticket is thought to be in the region of £20 to £25 but best wait and see.
As we got closer to the bottom we came to the ‘sting in the trail’, basically a bridge up and over a path to propel you to the top of a rock with the straight on option being what looked like almost certain death 15 or more feet below. There is an option to the left for those that feel like wimping out.
Plans and words can’t do it justice and, whilst walking the route brought the enormity of it home to me, I can’t quite imagine what it would be like on two wheels. There’s only one way to find out – I’ll put it on my bucket list.