The forest is situated in the Sperrin mountains close to Draperstown. For years Mountain bikers helped maintain a network of old walking trails that had fallen into disrepair through lack of maintenance and no use from walkers. As the trails were forgotten mountain bikers created a small series of trails to ride. For years locals campaigned to try and get some help from forestry service to help build trails. For years the forestry service dismissed any notion that they would ever create mountain bike trails.
This would all change with the help of Cookstown Council, Outdoor Recreation NI (Formerly CAAN)local representatives and the NI Mountain Biking Association. Years of talks, planning, let downs, highs and lows finally have paid off in 2012/13. Outdoor Recreation NI created the frame work in which Architrail would design the trail network. Planning permission was agreed, Forestry service would allow Cookstown Council control over the trail network and Local contractors FP McCann would create the trails.
Building work on the trails is into the last few months. The Marketing team from Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland are now finalizing their marketing strategy for Davagh, Castlewellan and Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trail Centers.
The trail designers Architrail and FP McCann have done a brilliant job. I will admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard who got the build contract mainly because this was the first time they produced trails like this. It would transpire that I had no need to worry because under the management of Phil Saxena of Architrail and his team they have really pulled it off. Lets face it unless they brought in build teams from outside NI no one here had the experience. It was great for the economy that the local business got the contract and had the ability to deliver a top class finish. Now they have the experience and the knowledge they can deliver more projects like this if and when funding is available. I am pretty confident you will see a massive boost to the area in this rapidly growing sport/hobby/lifestyle.
I am really looking forward to the trails officially opening.