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Whizzing around the mountain bike trails is how our youngest son wanted to spend his 11th birthday, so we loaded the bikes, hot chocolate and birthday cake and headed to Gosford Forest Park just outside Markethill, Co. Armagh.
Arriving mid-morning the main car park was already pretty full, probably because it was such a lovely, sunny day during the half-term holidays. Most visitors seemed to be families there for a walk around the forest, exploring the 3km woodland adventure play trail, checking out the deer or playing in the fantastic play park which is always a big hit with the kiddies.
Thankfully the mountain bike trails were really quiet. We only came across a handful of people so there was no problem with social distancing in these strange times we find ourselves in. We have purchased an annual pass for Gosford which also covers Loughgall Country Park and is really good value.
The trail head is really easy to find and marked by an impressive, wooden arch. After a quick blast around the pump track we hit the blue trail for about 10km of getting clabbered in mud, winging it around berms and singing and squealing our way down the trails. Our teenage son was enjoying the mountain biking but not impressed with Mum and Dad’s singing and whooping!
The trails at Gosford are really accessible for families as you can take them at your own speed and there aren’t too many steep uphills. We even came across a Dad with his wee daughter on a trailer bike. For younger or less confident bikers there is a shorter green trail which mainly sticks to the forest roads and easy single track trails.
For anyone who wants a bit more of an adrenaline rush there are three more challenging, technical trails on the blue route if you follow the blue and orange waymarkers. They are a bit faster with a few drop offs.
We got to try two of these as the third was temporarily closed. We can’t wait to go back and try it soon and maybe even make it into a camping trip at Gosford over the summer if restrictions are relaxed.
Luckily there is a tap beside the toilet block where the bikes can be washed before loading the car. We probably could have done with a power hose for ourselves but sure that’s all part of the fun!
The only thing left to do was get stuck into our picnic, hot chocolate and the obligatory Colin the Caterpillar cake at one of the picnic tables overlooking the deer meadow full of stags and doe.
I am a teacher from Dromore, County Down, married to Stuart and we have two boys age 13 and 10. We are a very active family and love to hike, bike, camp, run, swim, SUP, race triathlon and generally anything that involves exploring the great outdoors in NI and further afield.
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