New and exciting multi-use trails have been officially opened in Gosford Forest Park.
A total investment of £500,000 has reinvigorated one of Northern Ireland’s major forest attractions.
Those who enjoy the outdoors can now enjoy new and improved trails which was designed by one the most prestigious trail designers in the UK.
Proving popular already for walking, cycling and horse-riding the trails are suitable for everyone and are all-inclusive.
As part of the council’s ongoing commitment to promote Gosford Forest Park into the top five major forest attractions in Northern Ireland the council have been working in partnership from 2014 with the Forest Service and Outdoor Recreation NI (ORNI) to create and develop proposals with Phase One of the development plan now complete.
Officially opening the trails, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty said: “Gosford Forest Park is a fantastic facility and today I am delighted to see another element of an exciting development plan now complete – creating a top class outdoor recreational space for everyone to enjoy and catering for a wide range of interests.
“I want to thank Outdoor Recreation NI for leading on the development of the trails and to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) for the significant funding to deliver Phase One.”
Forest Service Chief Executive John Joe O’Boyle said: “We are delighted that our forests help deliver a wide range of benefits to local communities such as positive health and well-being, tourism, timber production and supporting economic activity.
“The excellent new facilities here at Gosford Forest Park are a great example of partnership working delivering a living, active landscape valued by all through the social and recreational
benefits it creates for local communities.”
Outdoor Recreation NI Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland were appointed by council as the lead organisation in the development of the new trails, Executive Director, Caro-Lynne Ferris, is delighted with the outcome, commenting: “The four new walking trails, two mountain bike trails, a 5km running trail and a horse riding trail in Gosford have totally transformed the forest park into an exciting adventure packed destination.
“The new trails mean visitors can now explore Gosford’s impressive and historical features either on foot, by bike or on horseback and will hopefully turn it into one of the top outdoor attractions in Northern Ireland thus encouraging people from all over Ireland to make a visit.”
Funding of £428,000 was secured through the Targeting Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) programme administered by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council providing the additional project funds.
Jerome Burns, Head of DAERA’s Southern Rural Affairs Division said: “This project is an excellent example of DAERA working in partnership with other bodies to deliver projects which help improve the health and well-being of those living in rural areas.
“It provides a safe environment to allow people of all ages to access the beautiful surroundings of Gosford Forest and demonstrates how DAERA is delivering its vision of ‘A living, working, active landscape valued by everyone.”
The trails were designed by Pete Laing one of the top trail designers in the UK with project works carried out by contractor Euro Services.
The responsibility for the management of Gosford Forest Park will transfer to the council from January 1, 2019.
A new pricing structure has been agreed with a reduced cost for the annual parking pass now available to purchase online at www.getactiveabc.co.uk/gosfordforestpark