Went to Castleward for a bit of a look around again the other day, just to check out some of the trails I missed last time I was over there. 

I’m so pleased with the way these trails look, they have really matured into the landscape in a very short time and I think they really add something to the estate. I was particularly pleased with the trails in Tullyratty which is an ASSI for its species rich grassland and where I reckon there has been no net habitat loss due to the trails. Instead the trails allow people to access this very special habitat in a sustainable way which might just increases people’s awareness of it and change how they value it. The trails in Mountain Wood looked great too as did the old forest road which was changed into a twisty singletrack with landscaping and demarcation and the clear felled areas have greened up nicely.

All in all I am very pleased with these trails. They were never intended to be ‘mountain bike trails’ for people on bouncy bikes, rather they were intended to be a network of multi use trails built around a hierarchy of access.  The all ability trails provide access to the foreshore for all kinds of user, whilst the wider trail network allows for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders to enjoy this very special Estate.

The above picture shows the forest road that was turned into a nice twisty singletrack to reduce the gradient – pretty easy to do but really worthwhile I think. 

This the equestrian trail through the specials rich grassland – really careful design and detailed construction specifications allowed this trail to be put into this very sensitive habitat with minimal disturbance. 

This picture shows the walking and cycling trail through the species rich grassland. Very carefully landscaped demarcation on both sides of the trail has helped reduce the impact of the trail and its users on the ASSI. The landscaping has effectively led to the demarcation disappearing into the landscape.

Dafydd Davis

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