Former Irish Downhill Champion Visits Davagh and Blessingbourne

Posted on July 17, 2017 @ 6:41 PM in Mountainbiking

Newry-based mountain biking legend Glyn O'Brien and fellow adventurer wife Catherine took a trip west to Blessingbourne Estate and Davagh Forest recently to visit the mountain bike trails on offer there.

Blessingbourne Estate

On a typically damp summer evening we made our way to the beautiful Blessingbourne Estate, in Fivemiletown, Co.Tyrone.

 

The trailhead at Blessingbourne Estate MTB Trails.

 

The rain certainly hadn't dampened anyone's spirits as the estate was buzzing with families arriving to stay in the fabulous 5 star self-catering accommodation. After a warm welcome from Colleen & Nick, we ventured out on the trails, neither of us having been to Blessingbourne since the recent extension.

 

OB2!

 

We both had forgotten how much fun could be had on some of the original features such as the Crocodiles back and Snakes trail. From winding boardwalks, flowing berms and skinny log rides to challenging rock drop-off options alongside the main trail, Blessingbourne really has something for everyone.

 

A different view of the Blessingbourne trails with my big head stuck in the middle of it! 


Cato keeping focused on the Crocodile's Back


We were reminded what a fun, family-friendly venue it really is - and so much craic for grown ups too! We even enjoyed a game of table tennis and swing ball after our ride!

 

Davagh Forest

Next day we arrived at Davagh Forest, situated in Co Tyrone. We noticed that a fabulous new play park had been added since our last visit. Despite the poor weather the trails were busy with riders of all ages.

There's something pretty magical about Davagh Forest.

 

The notorious "Widow Maker" climb never seems to get any easier but the laborious climb is well-rewarded with the sweepy descents of 'Big Wig Jig' and 'Run Ragley Run'.

 

Encouragement for the Widowmaker!

 

Every time we go to Davagh we always find a new treasure on the trails - with many variations for riders of all abilities. This time was no exception. Although we love the notorious features such as Boundary rock and Wolfs Hill there are many other rocky outcrops to play on along the way.

 

Tearing down one of Davagh's finest trails on a slightly damp summers day. I reckon its better when its wet anyway! 

 

The newer 'Stream trail' is riding like a dream - always a fast few minutes of whoopy fun!

Of course we couldn't leave Davagh without calling into The Sheperds Rest, a family-run bar located just 10minutes from the trail head. We were welcomed in our muddy gear and sat beside a warm fire with a pint of Guinness and a hearty post-ride meal. The pub has been in the family since the 1930s and we enjoyed a bit of a history lesson from Colin the owner.

 

We definitely earned these pints.

 

All in all we had a super weekend re-discovering some of the fun to be had in our local trail centres, and we hope to visit again very soon! Returning home from 3 weeks racing and riding in Europe it was refreshing to be reminded of the fantastic trail centres and facilities we have on our own doorstep!

 

For information on the MTB Trails at Blessingbourne Estate or Davagh Forest visit MountainBikeNI.com. Glyn is the founder of FirstTracksMTB.com - who offer coaching in mountain biking and run the much loved Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup.

Glyn O'Brien
Glyn O'Brien  Professional Mountain Biker

Glyn has a career spanning over 30 years on 2 wheels – from BMX, Moto X and DH. Some of his career highlights include 3rd Redbull Rampage, 2nd Masters Worlds Champs and Irish DH Champion. Glyn’s passion for riding remains as strong as ever and he wants to instill his experience and enthusiasm into the rest of the team he races with.

Photo Blog of Davagh Forest and Blessingbourne Estate

Posted on June 27, 2017 @ 5:01 PM in Mountainbiking

Can't keep up #bluetrail #6yearold #blessingbournemountainbikingtrails #blessingbourne #merida #bigtrail800

A post shared by Trigger (@run_trigger_run) on Dec 31, 2016 at 8:42am PST

 

We love seeing you all hitting the trails around Northern Ireland. Be sure and tag us @MountainBikeNI, #davaghrocks and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Size Isn't Everything

Posted on May 31, 2017 @ 6:30 PM in Mountainbiking

When thinking about where you’re going to spend those precious few hours on your bike during the week, there can be a temptation to go exclusively for the big names. Davagh Forest. Castlewellan MTB Trails. Rostrevor MTB Trails.

They are of course all outstanding trails and well worth a visit, but to keep to these three exclusively is to miss out on some of the other fantastic mountain bike experiences right at your doorstep in Northern Ireland.


Barnett Demesne

The idea that Barnett Demesne might not even be considered by some would be anathema to its many loyal riders. Located only four miles from the centre of Belfast, Barnett Demesne is located beside the Mary Peters track and boasts Ireland’s first official purpose-built jumps park! 

The trails

The trails themselves consist of 8.8km of green, blue and red lines, worked into a remarkably compact area. This lends to a quick course with sharp technical corners, some great boardwalks and rock sections, and a surprising number of climbs. All this is that bit more impressive when you consider that Barnett is tucked away in a relatively small bit of woodland, with walking trails on one side, sports pitches on the other and the river Lagan running through it.

 

What else is there to do?

Given the proximity to Belfast city centre, there’s no shortage of things to do in the area. In the immediate vicinity, that could mean taking the bike onto the towpath and cycling to a nearby cafes. Or you could head into town and visit any of the multitude of great restaurants, bars and music venues. 

 

Blessingbourne Estate

Blessingbourne is ideal for everyone, whether you’re a lone MTBer, going with the family or heading with a group of friends. In addition to the outstanding trails there, it has top class accommodation and plenty of resources on site to keep you entertained. In the last few months, it has won a multitude of awards including MountainBIkeNI’s “Best MTB Friendly Accommodation”, a “9.9” rating badge from Booking.com, and most recently, won the much coveted Accommodation of the Year award in the self catering section of the Tourism NI awards.

The Trails

Mountain bikers that ride Blessingbourne for the first time are usually surprised. In addition to the 12km of blue and red trails, it also packs a few orange features. Berms, log rides and rock drops abide and it makes for an incredibly pleasant mountain bike experience. In particular, Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trails are ideal for the beginner. With bike hire available on site, the 12km gives a good test of endurance for the newer MTBer, with zero hill climbs. There is also a pump track on site.

What else is there to do?

We recommend renting one of the self catering cottages at Blessingbourne and making a trip out of it. Colleen and Nick who own the Estate are outstanding hosts and only too happy to help with anything during your stay. Enjoy the walking trails around the historic estate, bring the little ones to the play area, or head out and visit the nearby town of Fivemiletown.

Tollymore Skills Course

There have been loads of blogs about Tollymore Skills Course, but we thought it would be remiss to leave out here, largely because it’s so much fun! The guys at Tollymore accommodate for all levels, whether you're getting on your mountain bike for the first time - or a seasoned pro. Book a session with them on their website.

 

The Trails

The skills course at Tollymore has around 1.5km of singletrack trails, ideal for both complete beginners and those looking to brush up on their skills. With everything you could want to hone up on (rollers, table tops, rock sections, northshore etc), you can rest assured you’ll come away as a better mountain biker.

What else is there to do?

With both Castlewellan and Newcastle just a stone’s throw away, both towns are filled with loads of great activities and restaurants for visitors. Tollymore also runs courses on mountaineering, rock climbing and canoeing!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

'RideNorth' Offers in the Sperrins

Posted on April 24, 2017 @ 4:22 PM in Mountainbiking

If you’ve seen the recent below video of Irish Vitus Factory Team rider Killian Callaghan and WideOpen Mag rider Kelan Grant tearing up the trails in Northern Ireland, hopefully it has inspired you to come to the Sperrins on your next mountain bike trip!

Only 2.5 hours up the road from Dublin (and 1.5 hours from Donegal), Davagh Forest is easily accessible from all parts of Ireland. Often looked at as a 'hidden gem' for mountain bikers in Northern Ireland, Davagh makes the most of incredible natural trails. It is best known however, for it's famous rock slab drops. Be sure to ask the locals about Eagle's Rock and Boundary Rock.

To help encourage you that little bit more, we’re happy to share with you some of the many offers going for mountain bikers!

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

Cobblers Cottage

 

Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2

Bio: One of the closest accommodation sites to Davagh Forest Trails, Cobblers Cottage is a renovated 200 year old home away from home. In addition to plentiful secure bike storage space, there is a bike wash, laundry facilities and the idyllic wood/turf burning stove. Equally however, you’ll still get 4G coverage (with 02) and WiFi!

An Creagan Cottages 


Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2

Bio: With 8 cottages at An Creagán (ranging between one bedroom and three bedrooms) you and a squad of friends can stay in comfort only a 10 minute drive from the trails. An Creagán itself has plenty to enjoy while you’re there including a forest trail of its own, the option to hire bikes and a restaurant on site. It also provides free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking.

FOOD AND DRINK OFFERS

The Auction Room

Offer: 10% Off

Bio: The Auction Room is one of the most popular new cafés in Northern Ireland. Winner of the Fréd Award for NI Cycle Café of the Year 16 / 17, spend a few minutes inside and it’s easy to see why. In addition to incredibly friendly staff, their eclectic interior and delicious food, they love to see mountain bikers and cyclists coming through their door. 

Shepherd’s Rest 

 

Bio: A family run pub and campsite, the Shepherd’s Rest is well known to all of the local mountain bikers and has been consistently voted as one of the most popular venues in the “Recommended Apres-Ride Pint” category in the MountainBikeNI Awards. With the upcoming Davagh Enduro sure to mean it will once again be jammed with visiting mountain bikers, the Shepherd’s Pub is a great shout the year round.

To avail of all of these offers, use the code "RideNorth" when booking or purchasing.

To plan your mountain bike road trip to the Sperrins visit MountainBikeNI to see travel times, suggested itineraries and more recommendations on where to eat, drink and stay. 

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

RideNorth Offers in the Mournes

Posted on March 20, 2017 @ 4:17 PM in Mountainbiking

If you’ve seen the recent below video of Irish Vitus Factory Team rider Killian Callaghan and WideOpen Mag rider Kelan Grant tearing up the trails in Northern Ireland, hopefully it has inspired you to come to the Mournes on your next mountain bike trip!

Only 1 hour 15 mins up the road from Dublin, and easily accessible from all parts of Ireland.

To help encourage you that little bit more, we’re happy to share with you some of the many offers going for mountain bikers booking between now and the end of April!

Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails

Accommodation as a mountain biker can be tricky. We’re usually covered in mud and looking for somewhere to safely store the bike. Here are some local recommendations for where to stay close to the mountain bike trails that are offering discounts to mountain bikers using the code “RideNorth”.

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

The Mourne Lodge 

Offer: £40 per night for a single room, £60 for a double room, £90 for a quad room. Quote “RideNorth”!

Bio: Sitting just a minute drive from the mountain bike trails at Rostrevor, the Mourne Lodge is a long-time friend of the MountainBikeNI team. Featuring a variety of bedroom sizes, ensuite bathrooms, a bike wash, secure bike storage, drying facilities, take away lunches and more!

Mountains of Mourne – Hanna’s Close

Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2, with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Hanna’s Close is another well-established destination with mountain bikers. They what makes life easy for us; tiled floors in the kitchen, a full laundry service, a hose for washing your bike at each of their traditional cottages. Add in the free Wi-Fi and secure bike storage, and you’ll understand why mountain bikers love Hanna’s Close.

CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT OFFERS

Kilbroney Park Café

Offer: 10% Off Breakfast Before 11am on Weekdays

Bio: Having recently won the MountainBikeNI 2016 Award for ‘Best MTB-Friendly Café’ sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles, the Kilbroney Park Café is ideally situated for visitors to the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails. Right at the trailhead, this family run business probably receives more mountain bikers than any café in the country. As such, they don’t care in the slightest if you’re walking in covered in much and soaked to the skin – they’ll have a tea, coffee and some great food handy for you. Just as an extra, they keep a bike pump and repair kit for mountain bikers; just in case. 

Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant

Bio: Another victor in the MountainBikeNI Awards, the Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant is ideal for visiting both before and after riding the trails at Rostrevor. They provide take away lunches and bike storage and are great for a quick hi-carb bite before the long climb up to #KodakCorner. It excels however with the return journey, where you and your friends can phone an order in for a quick turn around and wash down their great food with a pint in a great atmosphere.

Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

Meelmore Lodge

Offer: Receive 10% off your food bill at their café with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Meelmore Lodge are a jack of all trades, providing the ability to have a ‘rough and ready’ camping holiday with bed and breakfast; or offer a luxurious retreat in their popular holiday cottage. In addition to doing the all-important early breakfasts, you’re assured of laundry services, free Wi-Fi, and good quality showers.

Gracey’s Barn

Offer: Book 3 Nights for the Price of 2 with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Having recently been refurbished, Gracey’s Barn is a 2-bedroom barn that provides the perfect accommodation for mountain bikers that enjoy a little more comfort during their stay. It is self-catering and provides plenty of car parking, a full garden, a separate wet room for your gear and is only a 15 minute drive from the trails at Castlewellan. They also provide a bike wash and storage, as well as Wi-Fi. 

CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT OFFERS

Urban Coffee

Offer: 10 Discount Off!

Bio: Another one of those locations that mountain bikers know and love, Urban is only about a two-minute drive from the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. They regularly have their “Muddy Feet Welcome Here” sign outside to entice mountain bikers, who once inside, are treated to an incredibly relaxed open café that places a slight emphasis on health food and – most of all – good coffee. They also provide gluten free and vegetarian options.

Maginns of Castlewellan

Bio: Dating back to 1919, Maginns makes the most of being situated so close to the trails. The provide mountain bikers with a bike wash, secure bike storage while you enjoy yourself inside, and free Wi-Fi. A family owned establishment, you can be guaranteed of a warm welcome and an optional low down on the history of the town.

To plan your mountain bike road trip to the Mournes visit MountainBikeNI to see travel times, suggested itineraries and more recommendations on where to eat, drink and stay. 

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

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