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Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trail Phase II - Consultation


Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails powered by Chain Reaction Cycles are the most visited mountain bike trails in Northern Ireland with over 20,000 visits since June 2013.

Not wishing to rest on its laurels, Down District Council has commissioned Outdoor Recreation NI (the organisation behind MountainBikeNI.com) to deliver a second phase of trail development within the Forest Park.

The Frame of Reference for this project includes the following overall aim & objectives:

Project Aim: To develop an integrated multi-use trail network of international significance within Castlewellan Forest Park by Sept 2014. 

Project Objectives:

1. To develop up to an additional 8kms of sustainable mountain trails integrated into the existing mountain bike trail system by end Sept 2014

2. To create a mountain bike trail product, including a mountain bike ‘show field’ for events, that will attract events that will attract international competitors by end Sept 2014

3. To develop a ‘Skills Park’ integrated into the mountain bike trail system by end Sept 2014

4. To develop/ upgrade up to an additional 8kms of sustainable multi use trails suitable for walking and or horse riding by end Sept 2014

5. To record user numbers on the trails from when they open in Sept 2014

It is within this context that an Invitation to Tender was issued to Trail Designers to complete this work.  Following a competitive tendering process, Trails Wales led by Dafydd Davis MBE was awarded the tender to complete this work. Trail Design involves a 2 stage process as follows:

‘Macro’ Design - Development of a concept plan i.e. agreeing trail corridors with land owners and land managers

‘Micro’ Design - Trail corridors are divided into sections with specific design outlined

Trails Wales has developed the Macro Design which is currently out for consultation.  With regards to mountain biking, this concept plan includes proposals for the development of 11kms of new build trail - the vast majority of which is for the more experienced rider and includes:

  • 7km red (difficult)
  • 1km  black (severe)
  • 4 km blue (moderate) to appeal to the wider beginner / family market
  • Skills Trail – made up of red loops off the blue trail

Rider input is an important part of the consultation process to ensure that the proposed trails meet the needs and demands of the riders.  It was great to receive feedback from 40 people (mainly mountain bikers) that attended an open consultation on 22nd January in Hillyard House, Castlewellan.  The Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance (NIMBA) has also provided an useful initial response with further detail to follow. 

Outdoor Recreation NI is conscious that many mountain bikers were not able to attend the consultation meeting, as such you are encouraged to:

Outdoor Recreation NI can then consolidate and reflect these views when refining the ‘Macro Design’ with Trails Wales. 

The detailed Micro Design can then be completed.  This will provide an indicatory cost to guide funding applications for capital trail build costs.  

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