Mountain bike circuit success

Mountain bike circuit success

4 September 2013

PEOPLE are flocking to the new mountain bike trails at Castlewellan Forest Park in their thousands.

New figures have revealed that 4,000 people are riding the trails each month, with the news delighting Down Council.

The local authority played a key role in developing the exciting new trails with council officials always confident they would be a success. But he numbers using the trails have surprised even them. Council officials say the user figures have “surpassed all expectations” with thousands visiting the flagship attraction each month.

The trails, which stretch across 27 kilometres of countryside, were officially unveiled a few weeks ago by Stormont Tourism Minister Arlene Foster.

They have been designed for use by everyone from families and beginners right through to serious mountain bike enthusiasts, with the investment already reaping a major reward by attracting thousands of people to Castlewellan.

Down Council Recreation Director Michael Lipsett said the local authority was “absolutely delighted” with the initial visitor numbers, explaining they are more than double initial estimations.

“This initial success has resulted in a welcome economic injection to the local economy, with mountain bikers spending money in pubs and cafes and those visiting from further afield staying with local accommodation providers in the area,” he said.

Such is the buzz around Northern Ireland’s new trail centres in Castlewellan, Rostrevor and Davagh Forest, that three of the UK’s leading mountain bike magazines have recently visited the trails and are tipping this previously untapped landscape as the next “must visit” mountain bike destination in the UK.

Chris Scott, activity tourism manager for Outdoor Recreation NI, believes this is long overdue.

He said it was great to see the initial visitor numbers, confirming how important mountain biking can be as a tourist attraction.

Councillor Patrick Clarke has welcomed the visitor figures which he said provide a major economic boost for the local economy.

He said: “Castlewellan Forest Park offers major recreation and tourist potential, with the new trails forming an important part of Down Council’s long term tourism strategy which will promote one of the best historic tourist attractions which, through lack of investment by the Forest Service, has been badly neglected for years.”