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Cognation Mountain Bike Trails

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The Opportunity

Mountain biking has been a key tourism product in the Valleys for over 10 years and attracts thousands of visitors to the area year after year; bring vital benefits to the local economy. Trail centres were developed in Afan Forest Park, Neath Port Talbot and Cwmcarn, Caerphilly and have provided visitors with world class mountain bike trials and all the facilities to go with them.

Following the success of the initial phase of investment Cognation mtb trails South Wales was established in January 2010 to take South Wales to the next level in the development of mountain biking. 

Cognation is a strategic project that is investing in mountain biking on a regional basis. The project is a partnership project between Neath Port Talbot CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Natural Resources Wales and BikePark Wales and is currently funded through Convergence ERDF funding with match funding coming from the Welsh Government Strategic Regeneration Area fund. There are also a number of other organisations involved within the wider partnership including, Capital Region Tourism, South West Wales Tourism Partnership, to name a few.

The project aims to create the most accessible mountain bike trail network in the UK in South Wales by creating new trails in Afan Forest Park and Cwmcarn, creating a mountain bike specific events trail in Margam Park and also building a Commercial Bike Park in Gethin Woods, Merthyr Tydfil. As well as a number of capital works taking place there is an integrated marketing strategy that promotes all the trails centres as one destination for mountain biking in South Wales.

All capital works have to be complete by December 2013 and the current funding stream will come to an end at this time. The partnership are very much aware of the importance of sustainability of the mountain bike trails, the importance of continued maintenance and making further  improvements in the future to ensure that the high quality of these trails is sustained.

To ensure that there is future investment in the trails; Cognation Ltd has been set up as a company limited by guarantee to investigate possible revenue sources for future investment in the trails.

Cognation Ltd will have six primary objectives:

a)     Creating new sources of revenue to sustain the mountain bike trails of South Wales (in current Cognation area)

b)     Creating a wider community of individuals, businesses and organisations who have a sense of ownership of the future management of the trails

c)      To widen the socio- economic benefit of the mountain bike trails in the local communities by using them to create learning and participation opportunities

d)     To widen the environmental benefits of mountain bike trails by contributing to conservation in the forest parks close to mountain bike trails


e)     If sufficient income is generated to sustain the mountain bike trails in the future, to use any surplus income generated to invest in wider tourism development and community regeneration activities that complement the mountain bike product.

f)      To undertake wider tourism development and community regeneration activities as and when they arise if they complement the above and are deemed appropriate by the directors of the company.  

Currently all trails (apart from Gethin) are free to use and the only charges that apply are car parking charges; however, the income does not always go back to the source that has responsibility of maintaining the trails as the profit is often allocated are existing maintenance commitments which exist aside from the trails themselves. Research also shows that a high percentage of mountain bikers have high disposable incomes and are willing to donate something back to the sport that they love.

Cognation Ltd will look at five ways of raising revenue for future investment; these are visitor giving, donation boxes, membership scheme, merchandise and corporate giving.

The Location

Afan Forest Park and Margam Park, Neath Port Talbot Cwmcarn, Caerphilly BikePark wales, Gethin Woods, Merthyr Tydfil

In-Kind Support Required


Type of Support Required

  • Merchandise scheme – expert advice on establishing a merchandise scheme and looking into the logistics of setting up the scheme. Research has shown that mountain bikers like the Cognation brand and have expressed an interest in purchasing branded clothing. The benefits of this to Cognation Ltd that the profit from selling the merchandise would go back into trail development.
  • Volunteer dig days for staff to help maintaining the trails 

Financial Support Required


Value of Support Required

Future investment in mountain bike trails will ensure that the quality of the trails is maintained. Maintenance on average costs £160,000 over three years; this is just to keep the trails to a standard that complies with health and safety legislation. When further new sections of trail are required the cost increases, and on average a new trail costs between £200,000- £250,000 to build.

Contributions to meet at least some of this cost will not only help to maintain the trails themselves but will help to maintain the contribution that the visitors make to the local economy during their stay.

Local Name and Contact Details

Lisa Jenkins

Cognation Project Manager

01639 686044


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