On the old stomping grounds of Mary, Queen of Scots, plans are afoot to revamp a much-loved bike park in Falkland.
West coast-based cycle group Rebound hope to take over the running of the bike park on the grounds of Falkland Estate later this year.
The park has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
However, concerns have been raised that the town can not handle more visitors, thanks to Outlander-led tourism.
Among the discussions with the community council is whether the proposal needs a full planning permission and public consultation before going ahead.
What is planned for the area?
Rebound committee member Scott Malcolm, who helped form the cycle charity about 10 years ago, described the area as a “magical place”.
He said: “Some really good cyclists have come up who have used that place.”
He said an agreement with Falkland Estate is in the works. When that is signed, Rebound will take over the running of the bike park.
And they won’t be shy about getting their hands dirty.
“These things take so long, but as soon as that’s done we’ll get there with the shovels until it’s ready,” he added.
The bike park had been in operation for more than a decade before the land was harvested a few years ago.
Some people go there as a beginner and build up their ability.”
Scott Malcolm, Rebound committee member
Since then, the site has fallen into a state of disrepair. It is still used by some bikers, but some of the tracks and jumps are not of the standard it once was.
Rebound hope to set that right.
Scott said: “Initially, we just hope to get it back to what it once was. There are people who have plans for some new elements in the future, but that’s not the first focus.”
Will anyone be able to use the tracks?
While insisting that everyone will be welcome to use the cycle park, some of the jumps have a reputation for being only suitable for the more elite bikers.
“People can use their own judgement whether they are capable of taking on some of the jumps, like any other sport of this type,” Scott said.
“Otherwise, they can just go around the jumps.
“But that’s one of the great things about the place. Some people go there as a beginner and build up their ability.
“It’s a magical place, and we want to see it back to what it was.”
An uphill struggle?
There are fears among Falkland Community Council that the town is at “saturation point” thanks to tourism — especially after hit TV show Outlander, which was filmed in the area.
Scott said visitor numbers won’t be too drastic.
“There’s many people who have travelled to the site before, so it is popular.
“But it’s not like there’s hundreds of people there at one time. At most, about 30 people used the tracks at one time before. It’s typically spread out throughout the week.”
Rod Crawford, chairman of the Falkland Community Council, described the town’s popularity as a “mixed blessing”.
He said: “The community council is supportive of active travel — we are currently working with Sustrans to promote walking and cycling in the village, for example.
“But the downhill bike park is likely to further increase vehicle traffic, attracting mountain bikers from across Scotland.
“We recommend this proposal should be subject to a proper planning and public consultation process.”
What happens next?
A finalised agreement is still to be signed, but that is expected soon. Once that is done, Rebound members will begin working on the tracks.
A Falkland Estate spokeswoman said they were “delighted” to be working with Rebound to “enable the ongoing care and management of the trails”.
“With recent planned forestry operations, the trails are in need of care. Following a series of discussions Rebound, and their team of volunteers, are bringing biking and trail knowledge and skills for the safe and responsible use of the tracks.
“Falkland Estate is positive about this partnership that is focused on sustaining accessibility for those with the skill and fortitude to tackle the challenging trails.”
A royal visitor
One of the most famous visitors to the site was Mary, Queen of Scots.
She was said to have been enchanted with the woods and was a regular there during the 1500s.
She was said to partake in hunting and falconry during her time in Falkland.
She also played tennis on the grounds at what is now one of the world’s oldest surviving tennis courts.
It’s doubtful that she bounded down the trails on a bike, however.