Elizabeth BirtleyChristopher SomervilleDan Lavery
read more about the authors
Blog ethics

Riding Out in Northern Ireland

Posted on October 13, 2021 @ 1:08 PM in Mountainbiking

Share the Space

The British Horse Society have launched a brand-new video aimed at educating users of shared space and multi-user* routes in Northern Ireland.

Enjoy, share and remember – be polite, say hi! and stay on the #RightSideOfOutside


*Multi-user is defined as Walkers, Cyclists and Horse Riders


Top Tips for Mountain Bikers

  • “Be nice, say hi” – be polite and respect others
  • Ensure you pass horses and others safely – if you’re unsure, stop
  • Keep dogs on a lead and under close control
  • Look after the places you love
  • Leave no trace of litter


Did you know...

  • There are not enough safe off-road places for equestrians to access in Northern Ireland. Despite being ‘Horse Country’ there is a staggering lack of legal Public Rights of Way which include equestrian rights.
  • A total of under 1% of the Public Right of Way Network in Northern Ireland provides access for equestrians. This is considerably less than the neighbouring countries of England and Wales where 22% of the network is available, 5% of which is accessible to carriage drivers.
  • Horse riders are vulnerable road users, just like walkers and cyclists.
  • Sadly, there have been 4,140 incidents in the UK reported to the BHS since 2010
  • 76% were in rural areas
  • 89% involved vehicles passing too close or too fast to the horse.
  • In 2020, there were 46 horses killed on rural roads, 118 horses and 130 riders injured as a result of a collision with a vehicle.
  • The vast majority of equestrians use the road as they have no safe off-road alternative. Some hack to, or transport a horse to an access site such as a forest or beach; however these type of sites are not readily or sufficiently available throughout Northern Ireland.


What are The British Horse Society doing about it?

The BHS are working hard with the Northern Ireland government on a national and local level, engaging with key stakeholders including The Ramblers, The Disabled Ramblers, Sustrans, Cycling UK and landowners to open and protect safe off-road access for equestrians. The majority of these routes are multiuser and are therefore places that are also shared with and enjoyed by walkers and cyclists. Together, we have been making very positive progress. Watch this space.

To learn more about our work to improve access in Northern Ireland click here: www.bhs.org.uk/ireland

To support the great work achieved by the BHS, join as a member here from as little as £7/month: www.bhs.org.uk/membership 

Elizabeth Birtley
Elizabeth Birtley  Executive Project Lead & Communications at British Horse Society

Winners of the 2020 - 2021 MountainBikeNI Awards

Posted on May 6, 2021 @ 1:04 PM in Mountainbiking

Welcome to the MountainBikeNI Awards, sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles!

It’s a wonderful time of year where we can celebrate the very best of mountain biking in Northern Ireland thanks to hundreds of votes across multiple categories, recognising different sectors of the industry. Despite a slight delay due to Covid-19, we now have the results. (Drum roll please…)

Crash of the Year

There He Goes is an apt name for this video. It cuts out quite suddenly - one because there was some colourful language, and secondly because the cameraman was (we assume) a good friend and stopped recording to rush to provide aid. We'll let the video do the talking here:


Favourite MTB Trail Centre in NI

Making history in the MountainBikeNI Awards, we have a tie! Both Castlewellan and the fresh faced newcomer Gortin Forest Park MTB Trails, were tied with the most votes in this category!

As things get back to normal it means you’ve even more reason to get the bike out and visit these two trail centres (as local Covid 19 restrictions allow; see current regulations for mountain biking here.)


Most Active MTB Club

The new category to the MTBNI Awards had a LOT of interest. The winner however ended up with a strong margin – congratulations Gortin MTB Club! If you don’t already, make sure to give them a follow as they showcase what Gortin has to offer.

Best MTB Event in 2020



(Though a special shout out to the one or two groups that did manage to run an event!)


Favourite MTB Trail Section in NI

It’s a triple whammy for the Stream Trail section at Davagh Forest, fighting off stiff competition from both the black trails in Castlewellan and some of the newer trails at Gortin Glen Forest Park.

Speed and fun are the order of the day if you haven’t ridden the Stream Trail before. Also, what the heck are you doing?! Go try it right now!


Favourite MTB Friendly Café

You guys seriously love Urban. Taking the crown in this category for a record breaking 4th year running, we totally understand why. The service, the quality and the location are all unbeatable.

Even more impressive this year, they’ve been open pretty much non stop since the first lockdown. Congratulations to all the team!


Favourite MTB-Friendly Accommodation in NI

Their first time appearing in the MountainBikeNI Awards, we're delighted to reveal that the winners are Sperinview Glamping! Located just a few minutes from the trails, the relatively new business is ideally located for mountain biking, enjoying the epic views of the Sperrins and, of course, is situated right beside the upcoming OM Dark Sky Observatory.

MountainBikeNI actually visited Sperrinview Glamping in 2019 - check out our blog on it here.

Thanks for following the MountainBikeNI Awards! The winner of the Chain Reaction Cycle sponsored competition was Warren Campbell:

Congratulations to him! Keep up to date with all the happenings in the mountain bike scene in Northern Ireland by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

How to Prepare for an Accident on the Trails

Posted on February 5, 2021 @ 1:05 PM in Mountainbiking

Accidents, as they say, happen. It’s a risk we all accept when we go out on the bike. That risk can even add to the enjoyment of mountain biking for some people. But when things go wrong it’s important to be prepared. Changing gears mentally from ‘having fun’ to ‘somebody needs help urgently’ can be jarring if you haven’t thought about it before.

This week MountainBikeNI spoke to Martin McMullan from Mourne Mountain Rescue (and Life Adventure Centre). Most mountain bikers will know that the Mourne Mountain Rescue team are the elite emergency service called upon if someone should get into difficulty in the Mourne mountains. Since lockdown, theirs callouts have grown significantly so Martin was happy to share some advice, using his "ASSIST" model and which mountain bikers should consider before heading out.

A – Access - Do you have a route map? Are you familiar with your intended route? Can you accurately pin point your location at any given time? If necessary do you have an emergency escape route(s) and should the need arise, how will Emergency Services reach you?

S – Signal – Do you have a phone? Do you have the necessary contact numbers ? Will there be network coverage, and if not, what is your back up plan? Do you carry a whistle, torch, PLB (Personal Locating Beacon) or strobe? Have you left an ‘ALERT’ plan with a friend? (Actions / Liaisons / Emergency / Route / Time)

S – Story – What to say when you need to call for help – Who are you? Who are you with? Where are you? What have you been doing? What has happened? What resources do you have? What actions have you taken? If not obvious, why exactly are you calling for help / exactly what assistance do you require? All key pieces of information necessary for an appropriate Emergency Services response.

I – Injuries – Is someone injured? Who is injured? How did they injure themselves? What are their signs and symptoms? What first aid do you carry? What treatment can you provide? Don't forget, 'I' can equally apply to 'Illness'. Even if you do decide to call teh Emergency Services, remote responses take time and so your immediate input and/or hat of others could well prove critical.

S – Shelter – Do you carry sufficient clothing / shelter to protect all those involved? Exposure is a real risk, particularly for but not limited to an injured party. Even in our summer months, weather can be challenging and particularly for someone who has suffered an injury or taken ill. In particular, see 'T' below. 

T – Time – Dealing with incidents on trails takes time, whether self-assisting or receiving assistance from others or the Emergency Services, even if you’ve done everything correct and provided all the essential information. Are you prepared for a delay / wait of not just minutes but hours? See 'S' above.


One of the most important things Martin wanted people to take away was the need to be as self-sufficient as possiblel and to understand the benefit of community reliance, which can often be a more efficient response for minor incidents or that critical stop gap while awaiting the Emergency Services. That said, if in doubt for any level of incident, don't delay calling, even if it's for initial advice - all the Emergency Services would rather have an early call and subsequently not be needed as opposed to the alternative. Finally, mobile phones can prove invaluable when on the trails, particularly in emergency situations, however they're in no way a substitute for careful planning, being prepared and ultimately staying safe.


The MountainBikeNI Community also contributed their thoughts and experiences on how to prepare for an accident on the trails. You can check out what they had to say by clicking the link above, but we've chosen two of our favourites below:


1)    Ride to your ability (Kenny Halliday)

This should be obvious but it can be easy to caught up in the moment. If you’re used to only riding blue trails and you sign a waymarker for a black trail – please don’t take it. Likewise, it’s important when taking friends mountain biking in their early days to give them plenty of warning about features and advise them which ones they should avoid. Eagle’s Rock at Davagh Forest for example is one that you probably don’t want to attempt unless you’ve been riding for years and have tackled similar rock drops.


2)    Download the ‘what3words’ app and register for Emergency SMS (Michael Magee and Andrew Simpson /  Simon Gardiner)

Again this should come with the caveat that you can't depend entirely on your phone to save your life in an emregency. That said, one of the biggest challenges with calling the emergency services after an MTB accident is directing them to your location. If a rider has fallen on his neck or head, it is generally advisable not to remove their helmet or move them from their location – which means the ambulance has to come to you. This can be difficult, particularly if you’re riding along the 27km expanse of Rostrevor MTB Trails.

what3words’ is a free app for Android and iOs that, using your location data will help pinpoint where you are to within 3 metres. The way it does this is great; by breaking down the entire world into 3 metre square boxes and labelling each of these boxes with a unique three world combination. You then simply relay this to the emergency services.

The other tip for your phone comes from Simon Gardiner, who pointed out you can register your phone to be eligible for SMSing the emergency services. This is a last resort, for when your phone doesn’t have signal to sustain a call with 999, you can text the information. You have to be registered to do this however and it’s easy to do; simply text ‘register’ to 999. You’ll receive a reply asking you to confirm and just then reply ‘YES’ to that. For more information, visit their website.


Keep up to date with all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Latest comment posted by Joe on February 10, 2021 @ 1:54 PM

(do not publish this comment) Typos in post: I – Injuries – Is someone injured? Who is injured? How did they injure themselves? What are their signs and symptoms? What first aid do you carry? ... Read more >

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

What Does Gortin Glen Forest Park MTB Trails Look Like?

Posted on February 1, 2021 @ 11:21 AM in Mountainbiking

Covid-19 Restrictions have meant that not everyone has got to travel to Northern Ireland's newest mountain bike trail centre in Gortin Glen Forest Park. So we've asked a few of our followers who have been for their photos so you can see what to look forward to!


The majesty of the Sperrins is hard to deny in Leigh Moore's epic snap from Gortin.

David Doherty's panormaic has a hint of the Misty Mountains from Lord of the Rings.

This picture is partly to show off the epic landscape you can expect and part because we want Karl Price's bike

Actually we'd like Darreen Harpur's bike here too please.

The recent snow and frost in Gortin only added to the epic scenery, as shown by another picture of Darreen's (please don't call in those royalties too soon Darreen!)


We love this shot from Paul Hyndman that hints at the scale of the trails in Gortin Glen Forest Park.


This is just a genuinely beautiful shot full stop, courtesy of the guys and girls at Gortin MTB Club. It shows you'll find beauty in more than just the top of mountains.


A slightly eerie shot from Stephen McCay. Dig this.

Flow all day long - picture from Donal Martin.

We're grateful to everyone who shared their pictures. Want to know more about Gortin MTB Trails? Visit their trail page on MountainBikeNI.com now and feel free to use the #GortinMTB

Latest comment posted by avgbiker on March 12, 2021 @ 5:28 PM

looks like there could be a proper up-lift service there soon! that could be a hint to some more trails being built also! props to the guys at architrail! Read more >

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Mountain Biking Memories

Posted on December 2, 2020 @ 11:24 AM in Mountainbiking

Memories have a funny way of slipping away from us unless we think about them from time to time. With Christmas approaching rapidly (and in the backdrop of that thing we'll not mention), we thought it was a good time to look back at some of your favourite memories on the bikes. Get the mulled wine out and enjoy some notalgia as told by you guys!


Oh the stories I could tell about how mountain biking has changed my life and is now keeping my four year old son fit and entertained during C19. I lived in Tenerife for 8 years which is where I got into mountain biking.

I went on a tour from the top of Mount Teide (the Volcano) down to the sea. Weirdly I ended up doing it as a job with tourists part time and fell in love with mountain biking. Through a chain of events I ended up back in Belfast and began work as a youth worker and again, oddly, I completed a course to become a CTC MB trail leader and would regularly bring young offenders out on all the trails in NI day and night trail riding. As well as doing it for my own sanity and the pure joy and thrill of it.

My favourite memory has to be bringing my son AlfieBear down to the Castlewellan trails for his first ever session to see how he would get on. We started at the pump track and his interest began...

Not going to lie, Alife already looks more confident here than I was my first time round a pump track

We never left the pump track for over an hour and then toured around the lower level trails. He absolutely loved it and has really taken to it. I was super chuffed and so proud. He has now been mountain biking in Castlewellan, Barnett Demesne and Tollymore to name a few. I wonder is he to young to do the 27k red trail in Rostrevor?

I love what MTBing has done and continues to do for me and my family - the wife also loves it as she gets to stay at home and watch the Housewives of Harlem or something!

Happy Trails Peeps.



I haven’t been into MTBing for that long but this day up at Davagh Forest has been the best so far. Can’t wait to return.

Sometimes it's the simple days out that can mean the most.


My favourite memory was definitely riding the downhill tracks in Andorra with my 7 year old son!



Any day I'm out with my son and the old boys - but this one beats them all. It was my son's birthday, we took a lads trip to Rostrevor, taking my sons birthday cake up to Kodak Corner.

(We wouldn't have believed it if we hadn't seen the evidence - amazing that it stayed in one piece!)

This picture just makes us happy.


We had a super day out on hired e-bikes from Life Adventure Centre at Castlewellan early in October. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to zip up the hills and trails round Castlewellan lakes.

E-bikes have become a game changer for getting more people onto the MTB Trails

Certainly something I couldn’t usually do if I relied on my own puff!  



Besides my KOM at Yellow Water last week it has to be Redbull Rampage in 2003! Still buzzing!

Anyone else feel their palms get sweaty if they stare at this too long?

Glyn is still rocking the MTB world - check out his Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup.



Just that one time in band camp, when I did 4 days in the Alps. Haven’t got on a bike since, scarred for life!

Despite the fear in Liam's face here, he's still following MountainBikeNI on Facebook, so we reckon he secretly enjoyed it!

You can follow us too! Tell us about any of your future memories - find MountainBikeNI on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

older articles >
Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog outdoorni.com walkni.com cycleni.com canoeni.com