Divis Ridge Trail opens up spectacular views

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Latest update 10.04.2014 16:45

The much anticipated 4.2 mile Divis Ridge Trail was officially opened today. The new National Trust trail is set to entice over 50,000 visitors to Divis and the Black Mountain, as they enjoy the cityscape and panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains, the Lake District and Scotland.

The Ridge Trail has been developed by Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland and gives walkers access to previously inaccessible parts of Divis and the Black Mountain.

Welcoming the opening of the Ridge Trail, Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill said: ‘As DARD Minister, I have a keen interest in any project which will protect and enhance our rural landscape and contribute to sustainable rural development.

‘Funding from my Department of £223,000 towards the total project cost of approximately half a million pounds demonstrates what can be achieved when various organisations work together in partnership. The Ridge Trail is an important countryside development on the edge of Belfast and will encourage people to enjoy outdoor recreation in a rural environment in harmony with nearby farmers on the Belfast Hills’

Heather Thompson, National Trust Director for Northern Ireland, commented: ‘Since the National Trust started looking after Divis and the Black Mountain, it has been our objective to regenerate this once inaccessible landscape into a destination for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. The development of the Ridge Trail is an important milestone in meeting this objective and represents a significant investment in this part of Belfast. This is a very special place and we hope to welcome many visitors to take in the spectacular views of Northern Ireland and beyond.’

Although situated high in the Belfast Hills many local people and tourists will be able to enjoy walking the 4.2 mile circular Ridge Trail due to its relatively flat paths on tarmac, boardwalk and stone pitched gravel. The Ridge Trail is one of four trails on Divis and the Black Mountain.

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Tourist Board, believes the development of these trails opens up some fantastic opportunities for tourism in Belfast. He explained: ‘Divis is one of Belfast’s hidden gems, offering uninterrupted views over the city and beyond. Due to its history, Divis has remained less explored than other areas of the Belfast Hills and has great untapped potential for tourism. We anticipate a significant increase in the visitor numbers from the domestic and out-of-state city visitors as well as domestic tourists.’

Divis and the Black Mountain have strong cultural heritage, most recently providing the backdrop to several films including ‘Dracula’ and Academy Award winning short film ‘The Shore’.

At the launch of the trails Dawson Stelfox MBE, the first Irishman to summit Everest and Chair of Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland commented: ‘Outdoor Recreation NI was responsible for securing the funding and developing the Ridge Trail. This is just one of the many sustainable outdoor recreation trails that we have developed in Northern Ireland. Of note we recently led the development of the mountain bike trail centres in Castlewellan, Rostrevor and Davagh Forest at a cost of over £2.5million.’

The project, funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the Lagan Rural Partnership (DARD) and the National Trust, represents an investment of £459,700. Details of the Ridge Trail along with the Belfast Online Guide to Walking can be found here.