Gallery: Tunstall and Rendlesham off-road cycle group launch new forest trail

The Tunstall and Rendlesham Off-Road Group (TROG) ran the Viking Trail in Tunstall Forest.

The Tunstall and Rendlesham Off-Road Group (TROG) ran the Viking Trail in Tunstall Forest.

A new trail was blazed by off-road cyclists after it was officially opened in Tunstall Forest.

The 10-mile Viking Trail – a circular route from the Forestry Commission’s Sandgalls car park near Snape – has been created by the Tunstall and Rendlesham Off-road Group (TROG).

With a total of 90 way-markers, and a short-cut option, the trail has its origins in a former motorcycle enduro-route through the forest.

TROG had aimed to make the route as “natural and environmentally enjoyable as possible,” said group chairman Isabel Smith.

“Off-road cycling has many benefits,” she said. “There are very clear benefits in terms of physical health and mental health too. In addition, a winter of this type of training pays dividends for the endurance of triathletes.

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“The group has seen many successes since it was formed about seven years ago and this trail is another one for us.”

The group had worked closely with the Forestry Commission in the creation of the trail, she said. It featured six “bomb-holes” – either natural physical features or war-time bomb craters – that added variety to the riding of the route.

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Group members had worked hard in the provision of such aspects as drainage along the way and would also be responsible for the route’s maintenance, she added.

Group vice-chairman Steve Thacker said the aim had been to “retain the essence of Tunstall Forest, with as natural a feel to the trail as possible.”

It had been supported financially by EDF Energy, through a fund administered by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, he added.

The trail was declared open by the Forestry Commission’s recreation manager for its Sandlings beat, Nigel Turner.

“I cannot sing TROG’s praises enough,” said Mr Turner. “They have worked so hard on this over the last few years and have worked very closely and patiently with us. The result is a really excellent addition to what the forest has to offer.”

The new trail is officially classified in off-road cycling terms as a “red route” – suitable for proficient mountain-bikers with good off-road riding skills and fitness, and good mountain bikes.

It is described as being a “mostly fast, narrow and flowing single track through trees.”

After Mr Turner had performed a tape-cutting ceremony the trail was open for an inaugural ride.

Several TROG members are set for a ride over vastly different terrain this weekend.

Ten group members are scheduled to face the challenge of some steep hills and long climbs in TROG’s annual visit to Snowdonia National Park for four days of tough, off-road riding.

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