Gortin Glens set for 14km of mountain bike trails

16 February 2016  |  

Great news for mountain bikers in Northern Ireland as plans to create 14km of mountain bike trails in Gortin Glen Forest Park have been given the go-ahead by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Photo: MountainBikeNI.com

On Tuesday night Fermanagh and Omagh District Council agreed to proceed with plans to create 14km of mountain bike trails.

There will also be a rebranding of the existing 13km of walking trails and a new 130m section to the 'Park View' trail offering an improved network of trails.

An investment of £500,000 for capital works has already been included in council budgets for 2016/17. This is subject however to receiving match funding as the council revealed it intends to bid into DARD's Strategic Tourism Funds for the remaining £500,000.

The plan to turn the Gortin Glens into a 'visitor hub' has been discussed for a number of years with Outdoor Recreation NI appointed by the legacy Omagh District Council to help develop a centre that offers something for everyone, from experienced bike riders to families and potentially turn the forest park into a "top ten visitor attraction" in the North.

There were five options put before a council committee this week. The most extensive design proposal included up to 60km of mountain bike trails and 28km of walking and multi-use trails costing £4.12 million. This would have created a Bike Park on the northern side of the B48 Road, a bridge linking both sides of the forest and an extension to the current visitor services building.

Councillors agreed with the recommendation to proceed with £1 million 'Scheme 2' that will give the park 'Regional Trail Centre' status.

Outdoor recreation NI stated, "This would create a family friendly outdoor recreation and regional mountain bike facility that, once constructed, could be packaged along with Davagh Forest Trails (26km) and Blessingbourne Estate (13km) to create a short break mountain bike destination."

However, for an additional £500,000 (Scheme 3) the council could create the necessary 30km of mountain bike trail to obtain 'National Trail Centre' status.

Local mountain biker Noel Mullen, who has actively campaigned for this development over the past few years, said this investment is great news for the area and hopes it will be step one for further development of the glens.

He said, "This is brilliant news. It is designed in a way which means the additional sections can be developed at a later stage. Look at the trails in Castlewellen and Rostrever. They have lasted the test of time and have been added to over the years.

"There is so much potential in the Gortin Glens to host race events and attract people to the area. Visitors could spend a day cycling at Davagh Forest, stay over and then go to Gortin, which will be a boost to the local economy as well.

"This is a start and if they build good quality trails the people will come from all over the country. Hopefully this is step one and the full plan for 60km trails could be developed in the future."

Source: Ulster Herald

Trails in Article

Gortin Glen Forest Mountain Bike Trails