Wheels keep turning on skatepark initiative

Cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and a great alternative to other sports.

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The creation of a world class biking hub aimed at developing and promoting all wheeled sports could begin later this year if plans are approved and funding stays on track.

Plans for the new pump track/skatepark have been lodged.

Plans to build the pump track/skatepark next to the all-weather playing fields at Lochaber High School were lodged last week with Highland Council, which has already agreed to lease the 1.5-acre site to the Lochaber Wheeled Sports Society (LWSS) for the next 25 years.

Led by Lochaber dentist and mountain bike enthusiast Gregor Muir, the charity community group made an impassioned pitch on the importance of biking facilities in the town and its role in getting more youngsters involved in outdoor sports.

‘Our aim has always been to provide a facility to allow accessible activity and introduction into biking,’ he explained.

‘Cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit, have fun and socialise all at the same time and is a great alternative to other sports.

‘People always imagine top end mountain biking as being the norm, where extreme athletes race bikes costing the price of a car down a course most people could not walk down.

‘Our aim is to break that stereotype and provide a facility that can be used and enjoyed by everyone, regardless of fitness or skill level.’

The land that has been leased will provide LWSS with adequate space to build a world-class Pump Track, BMX and skate park and space for hard standing for push bike trials facilities. Plans also include a clubhouse with storage facilities and the group hopes to bring other bike-related projects in the area under the one roof.

‘The list of opportunities is endless,’ added Gregor.

‘People will be able to come along and try the facilities even if they don’t own a bike. We want to partner with Highlife Highland, UHI, Lochaber High and the local primary schools to provide high quality structured training and learning.

‘We really want to try and get as many people of all skill levels biking.’

As well as bikes, the site will accommodate skateboarding, skooters, wheelchairs and inline skating.

In 2018 LWSS won the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce Ideas Week, Dragons Glen, which provided funding for the undertaking of the initial work required to get to where it is now.

The construction of the facility will cost in the region of £500,000 and the challenge now is to raise this money.

The group has been chosen by the Fort William Argos to be their community charity of the year while a high number of generous companies and individuals have pledged money through a Just Giving Page.

WHW adult and kids clubs have given both money and time towards the project with the youngsters holding a Pumptrackathon at Inverness Pump track.

‘We would like to thank all the generous businesses, groups and individuals who have put money toward this project,’ added Gregor.

‘Even with all the generous donations we are still in need of much more.  If you are keen to donate then please get in touch via our Facebook page @fortwilliampumptrackandskatepark or by e mail through fwmpumptrackskatepark@gmail.com.’