Belfast Telegraph

New drive to show off Faughan Valley gems to tourists

By Brendan McDaid

A major new campaign aims to showcase the hidden gems of the Faughan Valley on a global stage.

The valley brackets Londonderry, stretching from Claudy to Drumahoe and across towards the eastern end of the city limits. It is renowned locally as an area of natural beauty and site of historical importance.

In recent years a number of high octane sport and adventure activities were introduced there.

Derry City Council officers said the new rural tourism marketing strategy aims to increase footfall beyond the City of Culture and to showcase what the Faughan Valley has to offer.

The Faughan Valley — Discover Rural Derry details how the Faughan Valley attractions lie just 10 minutes from the Walled City.

The strategy — funded by ARC (Assisting Rural Communities) North West through the Rural Development Programme and Derry City Council — will consist of a programme of activity to promote the positive contribution tourism can provide to the rural economy.

Activity will target local, national and international markets by exploiting the area's natural assets and promoting the rural tourism offering in key areas such as accommodation, activity tourism and rural leisure.

Dr Lorna O'Donnell, the rural tourism officer for Derry City Council, said: “The rural tourism marketing strategy will provide the Faughan Valley with a platform to reach out and shine as a tourist destination with a difference, in a year when the spotlight will be firmly on Derry/ Londonderry, as the first ever UK City of Culture.

“Our primary objective is to increase visitor numbers, dwell time and spend within the rural area of Derry City Council that will ultimately contribute to growing revenue and boosting the rural economy.”

The Faughan Valley has plenty of accommodation to offer, including the Beech Hill Hotel and Belfray Country Inn. There is also a range of four and five star self-catering cottages and apartments, as well as B&B retreats.

Outdoor recreational activities include angling, equestrian, food and drink, spa and relaxation, cycling, walking, golfing, paintballing, zorbing, go-karting and water sports.

It also boasts an array of ancient treasures, such as Ballygroll Prehistoric complex, Cregg Standing Stone, the fortified Brackfield Bawn or the historical houses of Drenagh and Ashbrook House.

Mary Blake of Derry City Council, said: “Derry City Council is delighted with the support from ARC North West through the Rural Development Programme in helping to deliver the strategy that will bring a wide range of rural tourism offers to the marketplace. The Faughan Valley has outstanding assets from historical houses such as Ashbrook to culinary gems at our award-winning restaurants and nail biting activity tourism offers.

“Our stunning parks and woodlands including the highest waterfall in Northern Ireland provide a wonderful experience for any visitors in 2013.”

For more information, visit: discoverfaughanvalley.com.

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