Mountain Bike Trails

Garvagh Forest, owned by Forest Service NI, is approximately 200 hectares and unlike many other forests within Northern Ireland benefits from its close proximity to the town centre, being situated on the western outskirts of Garvagh. Unofficial trails, largely as a result of the activities of the local and regional cycling clubs and visitors, have developed within the forest. The main club in the area is the Carn Wheelers which has a membership of circa 120 and is based in Maghera.

There is widespread acknowledgement that whilst the wider north coast area (within which Garvagh Forest sits) is already a significant destination for active outdoor recreation particularly along the Causeway Coastal Route, the forests in the area also provide hitherto untapped potential to target the family and activity segments which are the key priority areas for NITB.

In recognition of the opportunity presented by the forest, over the past year to 18 months NIMBA has been developing plans, in conjunction with the local club Carn Wheelers, and in association with the Forest Service, Coleraine Borough Council and Outdoor Recreation NI, to implement a series of mountain bike trails which will be suitable for a wide range of mountain biking abilities from novice through to competent bikers. To this end, Forest Service and Coleraine Borough Council have agreed a draft terms of reference as to what any such in-forest facilities / infrastructure will comprise.

NIMBA has indicated that its aspiration is to “make Garvagh a ‘regional’ trail centre that is, one that provides for the local and domestic market as well as out of state visitors, as part of a wider visitor itinerary”. The aims guiding the development of the Garvagh mountain bike trail centre are set out as follows:

  • To create a high quality formal recreation resource that enhances the area’s reputation as an active outdoor recreation destination;
  •  To maximise the recreation and tourism potential of both the Forest and the area as a whole;
  •  To enhance the potential of the north coast area and wider hinterland as a mountain biking destination;
  • To complement mountain bike provision being made in the wider Sperrins area e.g. Davagh Forest and Blessingbourne Estate;
  • To link into Sustrans Sperrin Route 11; and
  •  To create a positive impact on the local and regional economy.

There is great potential  to develop  a high quality  regional  activity  facility  that attracts  visitors  to  stay  longer  and  spend  more  in  the  region.  The  unrestricted  school  site provides scope for the following provision whether achieved through new build or conversion of those parts of the existing school buildings which would lend themselves to redevelopment:

  • - Changing / showering facilities;
  • - Access to 50 car parking spaces;
  • - Toilets;
  • - Bike Wash;
  • - Retail/ Activity Provider/ Bike Hire; and
  • - Bike Skills Area
  • - Low key accommodation

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