Type: Best practice
Following a landmark agreement between Cavehill Mountain bike Club and Belfast City Council to facilitate and recognise Mountain Biking on Cave Hill we first Down Hill Mountain Bike Trail on Cave Hill known as the ‘Middle Trail’ was officially opened by the Lord Mayor on 11th October 2022. The Middle Trail has been managed and maintained by the Club for over a year now as a ‘pilot’ overseen by a Council Chaired Oversight Group made up of the Club and other conservation and land management groups. The pilot is nearing the end and next year will see the Middle declared permanent.
1. In December 2021, a ‘first’ for the any local government organisation Belfast City Council signed an agreement (the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’) with Cavehill Mountain Bike Club to maintain the ‘Middle Trail’ as a down hill specific mountain bike trail on the slopes of Cave Hill Country Park.
2. Cavehill Mountain Bike Club was established in 2018 by local mountain bikers to promote and lobby for the right to mountain bike on Cave Hill Country Park. The club is a registered charity with over 1200 members. The Middle Trail has been constructed by hand and has been built in sympathy with the local terrain to protect the local biodiversity using environmentally sustainable techniques ensuring that it co-exists in complete harmony with the surrounding park land and forest.
3. Belfast City area is the largest metropolitan council in the whole of Northern Ireland and this is the first dedicated ‘natural’ off-road trail in the City.
4. Local conservation groups and partnerships were invited onto the oversight committee and fully consulted during the trail design stages which were carried out by dedicated club volunteers over nine months commencing December 2021 to ensure that it fully met the needs of local mountain bikers.
5. The Club also worked closely with a local technology start-up, Cora Digital Technologies, to develop and implement an innovative QR-code-based trail maintenance system