CWMCARN Forest is set to get a £160,000 cash boost to expand activities and improve the visitor experience.

The funding, £128,000 from the Welsh Government’s Tourist Amenity Investment Support, with an additional £32,000 from Caerphilly council, will be used to expand bike trails, enhance existing walking trails and to create a new welcome and arrival zone at the entrance to the site.

Deputy leader and cabinet member with responsibility for tourist attractions, Cllr Sean Morgan said: “Cwmcarn Forest remains one of the county borough’s premier tourism venues, attracting walkers and mountain bikers from across Wales and even further beyond.

"This substantial grant funding will hugely benefit the attraction, allowing us to enhance the offering for visitors for many years to come.”

Islwyn AM Rhianon Passmore said: “I am delighted that the Welsh Government is providing more funding for Cwmcarn Forest, a fantastic tourist attraction in the heart of my constituency.

“This grant will improve the facilities at a site that attracts walkers and mountain bikers from across the world to visit the Valleys.

“I hope this investment will provide a valuable boost to tourism in Islwyn and attract more people to visit the exceptional walking and mountain biking facilities that are on offer at Cwmcarn Forest.”

Cwmcarn Forest remains in the top 20 most popular visitor attractions in Wales, having attracted more than 430,000 cyclists to the mountain bike trails since 2009.

However, there are still petitions to open Cwmcarn Forest Drive to cars after felling work closed the site to drivers in November 2014.

Huwel Manley, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Cwmcarn Forest is a popular place to visit, and we thank people for their patience while we’ve been undertaking important works to remove infected larch trees from the site.

“We’ve now begun the second phase of our operations to remove larch from the northern side of the forest, and restocking has begun in the area we’ve felled on the southern side.

“At present, it looks unlikely that we will be able to reopen the forest drive without significant investment. We continue to explore options for funding with Welsh Government, and opportunities for joint working with Caerphilly County Borough Council so we can make the best of use of the facilities at Cwmcarn for the future.”