Happy Birthday to The Bothy in Inverclyde

The Bothy in Inverclyde encourages people to walk and cycle.
Hundreds more people are walking and cycling in Inverclyde thanks to the Bothy, which is celebrating its first birthday.

That over 100 people turned out to enjoy cycling, walking and social activities to mark the Inverclyde Bothy’s first birthday, shows just how far this community project has come in only a year.

The Cycling UK-led Bothy was established to bring together local organisations and create a home for cycling and walking in Inverclyde.

Activities put on to celebrate the Bothy's first birthday included a group cycle ride, health walk, community dinner and film screening.

One of those who went along was 45-year-old Mark McVey from Gourock. Mark was a carer for both his father and then his mother for many years. After his mother died three years ago, he realised he'd become very lonely and isolated. He signed up to the Inverclyde Bothy health walks and hasn’t looked back.

Mark said: “It's been great to get me out the house and into the open air regularly again, stretching my legs with a good walk in good company. It's amazing how much something so simple sounding as a walk can help both your physical and mental health. The health walks never fail to make me feel refreshed and content.”

The day started with a scenic return bike ride from Belville Community Garden – one of the Bothy’s partner organisations – to the Bothy’s base at Gourock train station. Although its physical base is in Gourock, the Bothy is helping people get cycling right across Inverclyde thanks in part to Better Biking cycling sessions.

Better Biking classes support people to build up their cycling skills and experience, giving them the confidence to ride independently. The programme has also held ‘Family Fun’ sessions, with cycling activities for young children and family led rides. In total, over 300 kids and grown-ups have got pedalling with Better Biking.

The Bothy has also encouraged people to cycle through the Cycling Friendly Café scheme which is a partnership with Cycling Scotland involving nine local businesses. The scheme encourages electric bike try-outs, commuter breakfasts and training courses (so far over 30 cycle leaders/instructors have been trained).

The Bothy's birthday celebrations also coincided with the Big Fit Walk, in partnership with Paths for All.

Health walks have been a big part of the Bothy’s first year, with three friendly and inclusive walks every week helping hundreds of people get active.

Looking back over the past year Josh Wood, Development Officer for the Inverclyde Bothy said: “The Bothy’s first year has been a fantastic opportunity for us to work with local communities and find out what people want in order to help them cycle and walk more as part of their everyday lives.

“It has been incredible seeing the response to our weekly health walks and the joy in giving people the confidence to cycle independently through our bespoke Better Biking programme. The Bothy is all about partnerships; we have worked with some fantastic local and national partner organisations to make all this happen.”

The Bothy is set to encourage many more people to walk and cycle, as Josh explains: “Over the next year we plan to grow relationships with new community groups and also ensure that the name of the Bothy is synonymous with fun, friendly and inclusive activities which are delivered in partnership with passionate people.”