Claire FerryPeter LennonAshley Hunter
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MTB Northern Ireland: Simple Mathematics

Posted on June 3, 2014 @ 2:02 PM in Mountainbiking

Personal Prelude - Maths was never a strong subject for me in school so probably best you take my botched formulas and theoretical equations with a pinch of salt.

With five trail centres boasting over 110km of trails, each within 90 minutes drive of each other, mountain bikers across Northern Ireland have literally been basking in their new found paradise of purpose-built trails. Northern Ireland’s attraction as a world class mountain bike destination is further enhanced by the proximity of these new trail centres to the country’s main ferry terminals in Larne and Belfast.

Northern Ireland

With this in mind it’s no wonder we are welcoming more and more visiting mountain bikers to these shores each deliberating over how they can get the most ‘bang for their buck’ on their mountain biking trip to Northern Ireland.

So my friends from lands afar, if you are planning a visit to this island of mountain biking goodness this summer and are considering your itinerary, you need ponder no more. We have locked ourselves in a dark room armed only with a pencil, map and abacus to calculate how you can make the most of your weekend mountain biking holiday or day trip to Northern Ireland this year.

The key is to achieve a positive ‘km of driving’ to ‘km of riding’ ratio – simple mathematics.

Northern Ireland
Mountain Bike Weekend – Deep Forest and Big Mountain

Take the 7:30am ferry from Cairnryan to Larne (P&O Ferries) and head west to Davagh Forest. Here you can soak up everything from green and blue routes to a lightning quick red trail through lush forest boasting what Singletrack Magazine described last year as “some of the best singletrack trail. Anywhere.”

Davagh Forest Trails

After lunch head on to Blessingbourne Estate in Fivemiletown. This compact trail centre has recently been given a major facelift which has doubled its trails capacity suiting a wide range of mountain biking abilities and fitness levels. Blessingbourne also boasts some great Self-Catering Accommodation on site so bunker down here for the night before setting off early bells to the Mourne Mountains.

Rostrevor MTB Trails

Day two starts in Rostrevor where in truth you could spend a full weekend alone however for this reconnaissance mission we would allocate three hours which should also allow for a lap of the excellent Red Trail in Castlewellan on your way back to the ferry to catch the 8pm return sailing to Cairnryan.

The Stats

  • Days x 2
  • Total Driving Distance - 363km
  • Total Riding Distance - 85km across 4 trail centres
  • Ratio - 4.3:1


Northern Ireland Mountain Bike Day Trip - Dirt Jumps and Downhill  

Opt for the 7:30am ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast (Stena Line) and drive straight to the Barnett Demesne Trails & Jumps Park, Belfast. Warm up on the cross-country trails before hitting Ireland’s first official dirt jumps park – allow two hours here.

Barnett Demesne Jumps Park

Then head down the M1, straight to Rostrevor for a light lunch in The Old Schoolhouse Café. After you’ve been fed and watered grab yourself a half day uplift pass (£15) from East Coast Adventure and spend the rest of the day sampling Northern Ireland’s Only Official Downhill Trails ‘Mega Mission’ and ‘On the Pulse’. We reckon you can just about squeeze 7 runs in on a half day pass.

Rostrevor MTB Trails

Back up the road to catch the 7:30pm return sailing you’ll be back in bonnie Scotland sipping your finest Glenfiddich night cap (other single malt Scottish whiskeys are available) before the day is out! 

The Stats

  • Day Trip
  • Total Driving Distance - 166km
  • Total Riding Distance - 22km across 2 trail centres
  • Ratio - 7.5:1

Bear in mind this itinerary offers Dirt Jumps & Downhill Riding so we'd suggest you multiply the trails distance by the power of 2!!!

So In Conclusion...

The truth is, the beauty of these trips is working this all out for yourself so feel free to ignore these suggestions, sit down with a road map and work out the best route to match what you are after. One thing we can guarantee is that whichever trails you do decide to visit and no matter where you stay or how you plan to get around, you won’t be disappointed with your mountain biking trip to Northern Ireland. 

Visit for stacks more information on Northern Ireland’s new mountain bike trail centres including route descriptions, interactive mapping, photos, events and up to date trail conditions as well as more detailed information on getting you and your bikes to and around Northern Ireland.

Photos: Laurence Crossman-Emms

Chris Armstrong
Chris Armstrong  Mountain Bike Officer

Chris looks after all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland's a tough job but someone's gotta do it!

1 comment has been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Stefanie on July 29, 2014 @ 1:03 PM

Hallo, if you need some tips for walking, cycling, climbing and outdoor tours you can find them here:

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