The money will be pumped into a new loop to an existing 14 kilometre trail, with the extension to open in July.

The money has come from County Durham Environmental Trust (CDENT) through a £50,000 CDENT PREMIER Award, Teesdale District Council (£40,000), Hamsterley Trailblazers (£20,000) and the Forestry Commission (£28,000).

Vicky Chilcott, from Hamsterley Trailblazers, an independent rider’s and trail building group which has worked to secure funding for new biking developments, said: “Over the past five years exciting new facilities have been created in Hamsterley including a £220,000 skills loop, a beginner’s trail and an upgraded black route for experts. But what’s missing according to the feedback we get is an intermediate challenge so bikers can take their skills onto a new level. That’s why the new red trail is crucial. Ultimately we want to create one of the longest single track red routes in the UK, extending over 25 kilometres, which will have huge appeal.”

The Forestry says further sections have already been mapped out and will be added when funding is secured.

The new loop will be built to internationally recognised eco-friendly standards, avoiding conservation areas and blending with the outstanding Pennine landscape.

Alex MacLennan, Recreation, Tourism and Communities Manager with the Forestry Commission, added: “Cycle trails allowing progression from beginner to expert are a key part of our vision for Hamsterley, which aims to develop sustainable world class visitor facilities. The off-road routes already built have made the wood a honeypot for bikers, bringing benefits to County Durham and the entire North East and helping minimise conflicts with other woodland users. Now we need to push on and ensure we cater for all ability levels.”

John Taylor, Executive Officer for CDENT, commented: “Those involved in developing cycling routes at Hamsterley Forest are to be congratulated on their achievements so far. We hope that our grant award will enable them to step up a gear and bring enjoyment to even more cyclists for many years to come.”

Councillor Keith Stansfield, Teesdale District Council’s Lead Member for Health, said: “Improving and extending facilities at Hamsterley is great news. To be able to use this unspoilt part of Teesdale for activities like mountain biking is good for local people who have this facility nearby, as well as increasing the desirability of the area to visitors.”