Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Savour this green oasis in the heart of Belfast

It’s one of Belfast’s best known green lungs, tracing a seven-mile trail from the inner city, past Stormont and into the beautiful rolling Co Down countryside.

So insulated is the green traffic-free corridor from the hustle and bustle surrounding it that you’d hardly think you were in a city.

Once a railway line which closed in 1950, this section of the National Cycle Network stretches from Dee Street in east Belfast, close to the Harland & Wolff shipyard, to the village of Comber.

Directions

Set off from either the village of Comber or Dee Street in Belfast. Railway stations that serve the Comber Greenway include Belfast Central, Bridge End and Sydenham. Bicycles will be carried free of charge on Translink train services but are not permitted on trains prior to 9.30am Monday-Friday.

The traffic-free cycling route begins at Dee Street in East Belfast close to the Harland and Wolff shipyard. From the Holywood Arches to Dundonald, the Greenway provides a tranquil green corridor through East Belfast with points of interest along the way including the CS Lewis statue, views of the Harland & Wolff Cranes, Parliament Buildings at Stormont and the Belfast Hills.

At the Comber Road in Dundonald the route diverts briefly from the old railway line along a section of riverside path to Millmount Road before continuing to Comber through a rural landscape, passing the Billy Neill (MBE) Soccer Centre of Excellence with views of adjacent farmland and Scrabo Tower. Cyclists can cross the River Enler and farm lanes using a number of reinstated bridges before arriving at Comber.

The Backdrop

The Greenway is an important corridor for local wildlife, nature conservation and urban biodiversity.

It starts close to the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast which was once the largest in the world. Founded by Edward Harland in 1861, then joined by Gustav Wolff, the yard has built many famous ships including the Titanic and HMS Belfast. The shipyard’s two giant cranes, Samson and Goliath, have dominated the Belfast skyline since the early 1970s. They’re a permanent reminder to the people of Belfast of the city’s engineering history. There was a national outcry at the suggestion that they be moved and they are now listed as historic monuments.

Sited fittingly outside Holywood Arches Library a little further along the route, the life-size CS Lewis statue is called The Searcher. It depicts the Belfast-born Chronicles of Narnia author as Narnia narrator Diggory Kirke stepping into a wardrobe — no doubt in search of his mystical land.

Sculptor Ross Wilson unveiled the bronze statue in 1998 — the centenary of Lewis's birth.

At the other end of the Greenway, Comber is famous for its spuds and also its whiskey which was last distilled in 1953 — any remaining bottles can now fetch a considerable price.

The village’s name is derived from the Irish ‘An Comar’, meaning the confluence. Comber is also famous for being the birthplace of Titanic shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, who was born in 1873.

Another famous Comber citizen was Edmund de Wind, born in Comber in 1883 and bestowed with the Victoria Cross, the UK’s highest award for gallantry. A Blue Plaque in the town centre commemorates his life.

Further information

For further information on cycling or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 028 9030 3930 or visit cycleni.com. CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to |ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Cycle Name: Comber Greenway.

Area: Belfast to Comber.

Nearest town to start point: Belfast.

Distance: 7 miles, linear.

Terrain: Flat bitmac linear path — much of this route is on converted railway line.

Access Restrictions: The path is wide with no stiles. Take care when using toucan crossings across main roads.

Refreshments: Facilities can be found at Holywood Arches, Ballyhackamore, Tullycarnet, Dundonald and Comber

Publications: Comber Greenway Leaflet, National Cycle Network Map 99; Belfast Welcome Centre, tel: 028 9024 6609; Ards Tourist Information Centre, tel: 028 9182 6846; Sustrans, tel: 0845 113 00 65.

Cycle Developed by: Sustrans, DRD Roads Service, Environment and Heritage Service, DARD, DCAL and Belfast City, Ards Borough and Castlereagh Borough Councils.

Map: Sheet 15 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop ( www.lpsni.gov.uk ).

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