Plans for luxury woodland eco-cabins and new trails at Glentress Forest could take the popular visitor destination to the next level and grow the Borders’ tourism economy.
That’s the aim of a joint partnership between Forest Enterprise Scotland and Forest Holidays who are joining forces for an £11.3 million investment to create 56 secluded eco-cabins, new biking trails and a walking route at Glentress.
The private and public sector investment has the potential of generating an extra £1 million into the local economy each year and employ up to 60 people.
The combined attractions are part of the award winning Glentress Masterplan project which has been consulted widely on over the past two years.
Two pre-planning applications for the cabins and the trails are to be submitted to Scottish Borders Council and will be subject to further local consultation.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing said:
“This is a significant and very welcome investment which could deliver a positive step change in establishing the Glentress and the Tweed Valley as a top visitor attraction.
“The investment by Forest Holidays is a huge vote of confidence in the area. A development such as this would be a major tourism boost, bringing substantial benefits to the local economy.”
Forest Holidays has a proven track record in Scotland, managing two high quality and very popular cabin locations in Strathyre and at Ardgartan Argyll. As with their seven cabin sites in England, Forest Holidays run their locations in partnership with Forest Enterprise.
Bruce McKendrick, CEO of Forest Holidays explains:
“We are extremely proud of our unique partnership with Forest Enterprise Scotland. Our existing locations bring many benefits for the environment, for local communities, for cabin guests and day visitors alike and we hope to realise these at Glentress.
“The Tweed Valley is an absolutely stunning region enjoyed by many and we are incredibly excited to support the wider masterplan and all it has to offer.
“Our cabin locations are planned with great care and sensitivity, we work closely in partnership with local businesses and community groups and we very much look forward to building relationships with local people both during the next steps of consultation and in the longer term.”
Hugh McKay, Recreation and Tourism Manager with Forest Enterprise Scotland added:
“We’ve worked very hard over the past two years in consulting stakeholders on these progressive plans and we’re thrilled to see it all taking another step forward.
“As part of the planning process, we’ll be working with Forest Holidays to gather more views and explain the proposals in finer detail over the coming months. It is a very exciting time for Glentress and the Tweed Valley.”
All Forest Holidays cabin developments are sensitively blended into the forest’s surroundings so that visitors feel they are very much immersed within a woodland environment.
A new mountain bike skills area will be built along with a number of new biking taster trails for all levels. The new trails will incorporate elements of the ‘Freeride’ area, as well as a new route for walkers. All the new trails will be situated around the Glentress Peel development at Castle Hill.
These new facilities will replace the existing skills and freeride areas at Buzzard’s nest, where the cabin development is planned to be situated.
Forest Holidays will provide private sector investment of £10 million for the project with the remaining £1.3 million from Forest Enterprise Scotland.
Graeme McLean, project manager of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) explained his excitement at the new proposals: “We have had advance sight of the proposed Glentress Masterplan and we are excited about the prospect of a new modern set of sustainable and well thought out trails at Glentress. The trails proposed by the plan cater for riders on balance bikes through to expert and enduro riders. Whilst the existing trails will change and some will be lost, we believe the new trails proposed will improve on the riding experience and variety of trials we currently enjoy. We are looking forward to working with Forest Enterprise Scotland to gather more feedback from the mountain bike community over the following months to ensure the trails meet the demands of our diverse community.”
Iain Ronaldson, Go Ape Site Manager, Peebles, said: “As a company based in Glentress Forest, we are very excited at the proposed development of Glentress, both the new biking facilities and the Eco-Cabins. We are convinced that these improvements will boost our customer base here at Go Ape Peebles, along with other visitor attractions in and around Glentress area; not to mention a boost to Peebles shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and so on.”
Graeme White, head of tourism at Scottish Development International said: “The South of Scotland and its wild natural environment is a key asset in Scotland’s tourism offering and so we are delighted that Forest Holidays has chosen Glentress for this high profile investment. We and our partners have been working closely with the company to support this decision and we look forward to working with Forest Holidays as it establishes this new facility which will deliver significant economic impact to the area through the creation of new jobs and an increase in visitor numbers.”
Paula Ward, VisitScotland Regional Director (Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway), said; “Glentress and the Tweedvalley area is already one of the busiest visitor attraction sites in Scotland welcoming over 330,000 visitors a year. We have breathtaking scenery, exceptional hospitality on offer in Peebles, Innerleithan and the surrounding towns and is easily accessible from many destinations both north and south of the border. The addition of the 56 eco cabins located in the heart of Glentress will only cement our reputation as a brilliant outdoor destination for a holiday or short break. Forest Holidays are an innovative company who keep their customers at the heart of everything they do, they appeal to the family market, they take great care of groups and are clever enough to be able to also offer some really romantic getaway options. Tourism is more than a holiday experience; it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy and I am positive that this £10million investment will generate a significant economic boost for the region and create brilliant memories for those who come and stay.”