Spring has arrived and that means longer days, more sun (or at least, less snow) and a greater demand to entertain the children in your life. We have put together a list of family friendly cycling spots around Northern Ireland so that when inspiration strikes (or boredom insists) you’ve a choice of options already here and waiting for you.
Just remember when you head out cycling to keep on the #RightSideOfOutside.
The Comber Greenway is easily one of the most popular traffic free cycling routes in Northern Ireland. It begins in Comber and joins the greenway just of the A22, where you can then enjoy 3 to 4 miles of scenic cycling towards Dundonald. When you reach access point 15, leave the Greenway and continue up the Comber Road (be aware that this road can be busy) and head towards Belfast where you can find Nosh – an amazing and award winning café that will fill you full of delicious treats that will help with the return journey.
Castlewellan MTB trails had their busiest ever year in 2021 with almost 40,000 visitors, and we’re not surprised! Overlooking a Victorian era castle, with unrelentingly beautiful views of the Mourne Mountains and a crystal smooth lake, there is so much to enjoy at Castlewellan. You’ll also find expert advice on the trails from the local trailhead provider, Life Adventure Centre, who are based on site.
Better still, the green and blue trails are both family friendly and there are a whole host of fantastic cafes and restaurants only a short cycle away, like Urban Coffee. As with all these routes, make sure you bring your helmets!
Cyclists flocked to the Lagan and Lough Cycle Way during the pandemic. Start in Belfast at Cutters Wharf on the Stranmillis Road, where the path is wide and flat, so ideal for the smaller cyclists in your group. After around 3 miles of smooth pedalling, you’ll come to Shaw’s Bridge where you’ll find the Lock Keepers Cottage, a popular haven for walkers and cyclists alike.
Another popular cycle way, the Newry Canal towpath is a hefty 20 miles long, running from Portadown to Newry. For a shorter trip with the little ones, start at Scarva and follow the towpath towards Newry for 3 miles, enjoying the beautiful views over Acton Lake until you reach the village of Poyntzpass. There are refreshments here, or if you are returning to Scarva then HollieBerrie at the Tea Rooms are a popular spot for visitors.
Blessingbourne Estate is the perfect short getaway for families, with a pump track on site, a range of blue graded mountain bike trails and a shared cycle/walk way – all taking you through the beautiful grounds of this private estate. Situated in the Clogher Valley, their accommodation has won multiple awards and the variety of trails, as well as nearby restaurants has everything you need for a perfect family trip.
This trail is another picturesque treat with plenty in store for the children to enjoy. Taking in the shore of Strangford Lough, you’ll also pass the 15th century Audley’s Castle, an old walled garden and along an old farm track.
Castle Ward has plenty of facilities to enjoy afterwards as well, with an onsite café, gift shop, bike hire and a book shop.
For hundreds of other cycle and walking trails, as well as every other outdoor space you could possibly want, check out our interactive map and #GetOutMoreNI