From traffic-free family rides to challenging mountain trials, Witton Country Park is offering some great riding opportunities for all abilities and ages.
Thousands of visitors use Witton Park’s cycle facilities every year and last year friendly staff based there assisted over 5000 visitors helping over 250 children and adults learn to ride a bike for the first time as part of its offer to the community.
Because of its far-reaching appeal, it has gained notoriety amongst the cycling enthusiasts and novices alike becoming a one-stop-shop for everything pedal-powered.
The facilities have been established thanks to the Re fresh leisure funding and also the Council’s Connect project, a scheme set-up to promote sustainable transport in the Borough.
Ann Astly, 70, has been attending classes at Witton Park for two years after suffering a number of falls.
She says: “I love coming to the Cycle Centre. It has provided me with the confidence to battle against the difficulties I have faced in my own life, it’s also a great place to come and meet new people!”
The park is also used by many social cycle groups which get together to ride in and around the borough. Groups including the Friendly Cyclists, the Official Bus Stop Bikers, Young Weavers and Dirty Knees Velo are all regulars and are always happy to welcome new riders.
The impressive park has also been identified as the start and finish point for a new strategic cycle network that is currently being developed.
Funding was secured in 2015 from the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver ‘The Weavers Wheel’ a 26km route encircling Blackburn with additional spokes serving the town centre and spurs out to neighbouring towns. The inspiration of local residents Kev and Nicky Riddehough.
The network is based on the successful Preston Guild Wheel which now attracts nearly 100,000 cyclists a year.
In addition to the park’s unique offer, Blackburn with Darwen Council in partnership with Landscape Engineering Ltd teamed up to provide a specialist Pump track at the park.
The track can be ridden on mountain bikes and BMX bikes and is suitable for all ages and experience levels.
Cllr Phil Riley, Executive member for Regeneration, said: “With cycling of all kind experiencing a large growth and the success of the Cycle Centre at Witton Country Park, it seemed ideal to build a pump track that can be used by people of all ages.”
James Syson Transport Strategy Team Leader added: “This new development is teastament to our continued commitment to improving our local cycle network. The pump track and improvement to the mountain bike trails at Billinge Woods is part of our wide ranging support for more active travel and lifestyle complimenting the skatepark in Darwen and the planned Weavers Wheel cycle network which was approved funding earlier this year.”
Witton Park’s pump track will be free to use, following the guidance and riding safety rules highlighted on site. It occupies a site around 50m long x 15m wide.
Riders can learn the techniques and improve their balance, encouraging riders to progress to the next levels.
Tember Walsh, who works at Witton Park’s successful Cycle Centre commented: “It is a great success; we have lots of bikes for hire and a good number of regular users. Progression and excitement is what keeps riders interested. The facility, right on our doorstep will be great for riders to learn and enjoy the tricks of riding.”
Cycle retailers locally are pleased to see the new facility in the town. “Getting more people riding is good for our business, but also for battling obesity,’ says Ian Kay from Ewood Bikes.
“BMX is a great adrenaline sport and any new facilities in our town is good for all the local ‘shredders!’”, states Paul Bury of Cellblock.”
Nick Riley, of Landscape Engineering Ltd, said: “We are keen riders and are keen to see young riders coming through. Getting kids outdoors using facilities is what we are about, that’s why we enjoy building the pump tracks.”
This has been featured in the Norther Life, Family magazine.