A substantive rise in user numbers was revealed at the latest Castlewellan Inter-Agency meeting, held in the Lodge, Castlewellan, on September 11.
Councillor Patrick Clarke said: “Outdoor Recreation have now entered into a service level agreement with Down District Council to develop Castlewellan Forest Park, the trails, facilities and surrounding infrastructure.
“The current visitor numbers using the MTB trails have doubled set targets for June and are expecting even higher results back for July and August. The numbers prove that the trails have been a great draw to Castlewellan Forest Park. There will also be another phase for trail creation in Castlewellan. This opportunity has now arisen from the discovery of larch disease and the will include further walking and cycle trails.
“This will also include a few kilometres in Bunkers Hill specifically as a resource for the local community. There is a long term vision to develop this further including updating the caravan park, outdoor courtyard, café and bothy yard.
“I welcome that Outdoor Recreation have undertaken an audit of the trail signage and have recommended that Down District Council install extra ‘no walkers’ signs up for certain mountain bike trails.
“I am very pleased with the initial success of the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails and the recent publicity of an 11 page feature in the latest issue of Single-track, one of the UK’s leading mountain bike magazines, in which Castlewellan features heavily.
“Plans are also progressing well for the Single Speed European Championships which will be held in Castlewellan Forest Park in late April 2014 which will be great opportunities here local businesses to get involved.”