Mountain biking at Castlewellan, County Down
There’s nothing quite like a family day out on the bikes. So pack a picnic and hit the saddle to enjoy these fantastic traffic-free cycle routes perfect for the little ones.
1. Davagh Forest Mountain Bike Trails, County Tyrone – 1.5 to 4.5 miles
Located approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown, The mountain bike trails at Davagh Forest is an untouched rural landscape of rolling hills and sweeping forests which offers gentle mountain biking and walking trails suitable for families. Start off on Davagh's gentle green mountain bike trail, then take on the faster flowing blue trail once you all have a bit more confidence. Bike hire can be prearranged with Outdoor Concepts. With a playpark, picnic benches and pump track you’ll have everything you need for a fun day out on the bike with the kids.
Place to stay: An Creagan
2.Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails, County Down – 2.5 to 5 miles
A day could easily be spent in Castlewellan Forest Park, which boasts one of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, a playpark and lots of different cycling and walking trails. Kids of all ages will love the freedom to explore the green mountain bike trail around the lake, while the blue trail is suitable for families looking for a bit more off-road fun. The kids will love perfecting their skills on the pump track. Bike hire is available from Life Adventure Centre. Toilets, café and picnic tables are onsite near the ‘Animal Wood’ Nature Play area, beside which you can race the kids to the centre of one of the world's largest permanent hedge mazes.
Place to stay: 1 Sea Heaven
3. Lagan and Lough Cycle Way, County Antrim – Stranmillis to Shaw’s Bridge – 3 miles (one way)
This part of the Lagan Towpath is a great route for the kids. Start at Stranmillis, where there is car parking beside Cutters Bar Restaurant, to follow the flat path along the River Lagan towards Shaw’s Bridge. Stop for a snack or toilet break at the Lock Keeper’s Inn, where you can picnic outside. Then pass through Clement Wilson Park, which has plenty of grassy space for running around, before reaching Shaw’s Bridge - where a playpark awaits and often an ice-cream van too.
Place to stay: Ramada Plaza Belfast
4. Castle Ward Shore Trail, County Down – 1.2 miles (one way)
Castle Ward is an ideal destination for family days out with loads to do within its walled demesne. The shore trail is one of four trails, with a flat path that’s perfect for kids to cycle beside the spectacular Strangford Lough. You can hire bikes and toddler trailers from Clearsky Activity Centre. Relax afterwards in the Stableyard tearoom while the kids enjoy mini tractors and animal dress up in the farmyard barn.
Place to stay: Camp out in style in the onsite glamping pods
5.Castle Archdale Family Cycling Trail, County Fermanagh – 6 miles
Starting from the Marina in Castle Archdale Country Park, follow the arrows through the secluded enclosure of the forest. This is a great introduction for all ages and abilities and the kids will love darting between trees. The Old Castle, destroyed during the 17th Century Irish Rebellion, roughly marks the halfway point and is a unique spot to grab a quick breather. The return leg hugs the shore of Lower Lough Erne, with panoramic views across to Davy’s Island and White Island. A café and playpark are also housed in the courtyard and in summer you can take boat trips to White Island to see the world famous carved figures.