Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Belfast bike trails to crank up tourist influx

Barnett Demesne is set to become a mountain bike mecca after a £445,000 investment sees the completion of a series of mountain biking and walking trails, including the only official dirt jump park in Ireland.

The opening of the new trails is expected to boost tourism numbers, with Northern Ireland likely to become the next must visit mountain biking destination in the UK and Ireland – since two more new trails centres will open in Castlewellan and Rostrevor next month, to follow another bike trail opened recently in Davagh Forest, County Tyrone.

The trials will officially open on Friday, April 26.

Chairman of Belfast City Council's Parks and Leisure Committee, Councillor Gerard McCabe said: "As part of our £150 million Investment Programme, we're committed to developing facilities which transform our city and positively change lives."

"It is good to see this initiative come to fruition in Barnett Demesne which is also home to the recently refurbished Mary Peters Athletics Track, and to know that so many people, novices and experts, will be able to take advantage of them. Cycling and walking are great ways to encourage people to get active and, best of all, the trails are free for everyone to use."

The new development includes a gentle linear trail for walkers and beginners, and then more technically challenging runs and the jump area for more experienced bikers.

Sport Northern Ireland's Nick Harkness said : "It is unique to have such a varied network of sustainable mountain biking trails so close to a city centre. These trails make Barnett Demesne one of Belfast's flagship outdoor recreation venues and we are delighted to support this project with a significant investment of £225,337 through our Sport Matters Community Capital Programme."

Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of Lagan Rural Partnership's Local Action Group said: "The new trails certainly add to the Lagan Valley's tourism offering by providing an opportunity to explore Greater Belfast from a completely new perspective and will complement Northern Ireland's ever growing activity tourism product".

Visit MountainBikeNI.com for more information on the Barnett Demesne Trails and Jumps Park.

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