by Dave Anderson
The Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails powered by Chain Reaction Cycles consist of a range of green, blue and red grade (including black options) singletrack trails just minutes from the lively village of Castlewellan. As well as delivering their fair share of adrenaline, these trails allow visitors to soak up unparalleled ‘mountainscape’ views of the Mountains of Mourne.
Singletrack article extract
Located within a forest park planted with trees from all over the world, the trail winds its way from the car park and neighbouring pump track, on a rollercoaster ride of twisty, technical trails that just feel like they are happy to have you there. It’s totally inviting from the first pedal stroke.
It’s a classic recipe for safe, yet testing, mountain bike fun. Start with a swooping series of bumps and lumps that push tight through the trees, keeping the speed up as you climb. The occasional 100m fire road plod links substantial chunks of trail that mix climbing, jumping and dropping together, in a shaken-not-stirred fashion.
Castlewellan’s interconnected loops let you pick and choose sections of different grades if you so desire, tacking a black loop onto your red here or a blue diversion there; tempting you to see just how many different flavours of ‘Castlewellan’ you can come up with in a day.
Green Trail – 4km
This gentle circular trail hugs the lakeshore and passes past under the shadow of Castlewellan Castle. The biking is very easy with only one slight gradient incline on the north side of the lake. This wide trail is ideal for young families and/or those giving mountain biking a go for the very first time.
Blue Trail – 4.5km | 66% singletrack
This easy going blue trail begins by running parallel to Castlewellan Lake on an elevated singetrack trail with incredible panoramic views before rejoining the gentler green route back to the trailhead. The first half of this trail undulates through woodland on singletrack with a number of rollers thrown in to make for a fun trail, perfect for those looking develop to their bike handling skills.
Red Trail – 19km | 85% singletrack
The red trail enjoys the initial flowing singletrack and incredible views found on the blue trail before splitting off and ascending behind Castlewellan Castle and past a number of little known smaller lakes. The fun then really begins when both the red and black options descend either side of Slievenaslat before sweeping back around to Cypress Pond.
There is a further black option ‘Dolly’s Chute’ set to get your heart racing with ‘Moorish Return’ always a crowd pleaser for the homeward leg back to the trailhead.
There is a café, toilets, showers and bike wash located at the trailhead – Postcode: BT31 9BU. Half day / full day bike hire is also available at the trails.
Nearby Towns & MTB-Friendly Places to Stay
Castelwellan – 0.5 miles
Castlewellan is a lively village with a rich history of traditional music where you can still catch a local ‘session’ taking place in a number of the pubs today. The centre of Castlewellan is only half a mile from the trailhead and is the perfect base for those looking to stay for a few days mountain biking.
Stay @ Hillyard House
This 9 bedroom Inn is located close to the trails and offers a pantry service with coffee, homemade breads, soup and snacks served all day. With a friendly, welcoming atmosphere Hillyard House also hosts regular traditional music nights.
Newcastle – 3.5 miles
Newcastle is one of the largest towns in the Mournes region and is located approximately 4 miles from Castlewellan and 20 miles from Rostrevor. Lying at the foot of Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland’s highest peak) Newcastle is known as the Gateway to the Mournes and is the perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the area.
For those after a bit more luxury, The Burrendale ticks all the right boxes. Their heated pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and spa isn’t a bad way to soothe the old muscles after a day on the trails. This four star hotel also offers secure bike storage, washing facilities with a separate ‘mud-friendly’ entrance for bikers.
Distance to other trail centres in Northern Ireland
Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails – 18 miles
Barnett Demesne Trails & Jumps Park – 26 miles
Davagh Forest Trails – 64 miles
Blessingbourne Trails – 75 miles