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There are some great family off-road trails around lakes, through woods, in parks and along beautiful towpaths throughout Northern Ireland. Check out cycleni.com for full details. Cycle touring (on road) is a great option also. There are 800 miles of networked routes (NCN) in Northern Ireland. Most of these follow quiet country lanes with some sections of traffic-free paths along disused railway lines or canals. Check out www.nationalcyclenetwork.co.uk

Map of Northern Ireland

Blessingbourne Estate

Grid Reference: H444478

Challenge yourself on up to 4 miles of exhilarating mountain bike trails set within the beautiful grounds of the scenic Blessingbourne Estate in Fivemiletown. The trails are packed with numerous technical trail features such as jumps, berms, table tops and rock sections and cater for all abilities from families with older children to the more serious mountain biker. Also included is a ‘pump track’, which is an area specially designed for riders of all abilities to develop their skills.

The new trails will officially open in June 2011 and have been designed by trails expert, Phil Saxena of Architrail, who is world renowned for his work previously designing mountain biking courses for the Beijing Olympics and the Downhill World Cup.

Castle Archdale Family Cycling Trail

Grid Reference: H185590

This 10km family cycling trail meanders through Castle Archdale Country Park along the shores of Lower Lough Erne and through the woods of Castle Archdale Forest. The trail is suitable for cyclists with basic off road cycling skills and should take between 45 mins. and 1 hr 15mins. to complete. The trail can be started and finished from either the Country Park at the Marina or from Old Castle Archdale. The trail is made up of forest roads and tracks with 2 short sections of singletrack.

These trails are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time.

Up to date information is available on Forest Service web site www.forestserviceni.gov.uk

Castle Ward Demesne

Grid Reference: J571494

Up to 21 miles of new trails within Castle Ward Demesne are now open so get yourself, your friends and your family ready to check them out! The trails are designed for walkers, off road cyclists and horse riders and meander through the picturesque parkland, forest and farmland on the shores of Strangford Lough.

There has also been an all-ability path constructed along the shores of Strangford Lough, suitable for buggies and prams as well as wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.

Castlewellan Forest Park

Grid Reference: J335364

This 3.8km family cycling trail is a circular route around Castlewellan lake. The trail is suitable for cyclists with basic off road cycling skills and should take on average 30 minutes to complete. The trail starts and finishes in the main car park where there is an information board with details of the trail.

These trails are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time.

Up to date information is available on Forest Service web site www.forestserviceni.gov.uk

Corralea’s Purpose Built Pump Track

Grid Reference: H084386

This recently opened pump track is located at a family run holiday activity centre in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands on the shores of Lough MacNean. The pump track is a series of rollers (rolling bumps) and berms (banked corners) built in a loop that can be ridden continually without the need for pedaling.

Pump tracks were originally developed by professional racers to improve their biking skills and techniques such as balance, cornering, speed maintenance and stamina but now it has turned into a fun activity for anyone to enjoy.

Craigavon Lakes Mountain Bike Trail

Grid Reference: J048569

This 10.6kms Mountain Bike Trail starts & finishes at Craigavon Watersports Centre. The trail around the Lakes is suitable for cyclists with basic off-road riding skills and should take on average 45 mins to 1-hour 15 mins to complete.

The majority of the trail is purpose built singletrack with some wider tarmac sections. Some sections are more challenging than others and may include obstacles such as roots, rocks and sharp turns.

There is ample parking, bike hire, cafe and toilets at the Watersports Centre. Other facilities include a BMX and Skateboard Park and numerous walking trails.

Tanaghmore Gardens at the north end of the Lakes has a rare breeds animal farm, barn museum, play area, gardens, picnic and BBQ areas as well as parking and toilets.

Gosford Forest Park

Grid Reference: H964405

This 6.6 km family cycling trail is a circular route through the tress and parkland of Gosford Forest park. The trail combines forest roads with 2 short sections of singletrack. The trail is suitable for cyclists with basic off-road cycling skills and should take on average 1 hour to complete. The trail starts and finishes in the main forest car park where there is a map and interpretation panel that includes information on the trail.

These trails are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time.

Up to date information is available on Forest Service web site www.forestserviceni.gov.uk

Lagan Towpath

Grid Reference: J342712

The popular Lagan Towpath is 17km/10miles long and can be completed in either direction between Moore's Bridge on the River Lagan, Lisburn and Stranmillis Embankment in Belfast.

Newry Canal Towpath

Grid Reference: J014539

This cycle and walking route from the Bann Bridge in Portadown to the Town Hall in Newry is a 20 mile trip on part of the route 9 of the National Cycle Network. The route is also one of a series of Waymarked Ways known as the Newry Canal Way (visit www.walkni.com)

The route follows the towpath on the western bank of the Newry Canal, passing some 14 locks between Lough Neagh and Carlingford Lough, most of which can be seen on this route. Moneypenny's Lock is the last lock on the canal before it joins the River Bann and is the location for a small museum.

Look out along the route for some of the Millennium Mileposts and a series of specially commissioned pieces which reflect the former work and nature of the Newry Canal.

Terrain – flat off road tarmac path suitable for all abilities of cyclists including bikes with child seats or trailers.

The Comber Greenway

Grid Reference: J359746

The Comber Greenway is a 7 mile traffic free section of the National Cycle Network being developed by Sustrans along the old Belfast to Comber railway line. Due for completion by September 2008 the path will provide a tranquil green corridor all the way from Comber to the heart of East Belfast with views along the route of Stormont and Scrabo Tower.

The traffic free route begins at Dee Street in East Belfast and passes by the CS Lewis statue at the Holywood Arches, along the Bloomfield Walkway to Sandown Road where it continues past the PSNI headquarters to a newly installed toucan crossing at the Knock Road. From here it travels up to the Kings Road and onwards to Abbey Road, through Tullycarnet and Ardcarn to East Link Road in Dundonald, the greenway continues through a wetland area emerging at the Comber Road, Dundonald.

The route is currently being extended.

Length – 7 miles

Terrain - wide off road tarmac path

Tollymore Mountain Bike Skills Course

Grid Reference: J348331

Tollymore National Outdoor Centre now has a purpose designed skills course, which has been designed to allow bikers to develop their biking skills on a wide range of features. The course was designed by well known trail designer, Dafydd Davies and was opened recently.

This skills course has approximately 1.5 km of singletrack trail, with a wide range of features, including rollers, berms, drop offs, table tops, rock sections, northshore and log rolls. The variety and size of the features ensures that there are plenty of opportunities for all bikers to develop their riding and concentrate on specific skills in a progressive manner.

The skills course is open 7 days a week, year round, from 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. From May – September, it is also open on Tuesday – Friday evenings until 9.00p.m. – entry is £3 for adults and £2 for minorsand is available for use by groups and individuals.

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