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Global brand provides helping hands


Volunteers from Chain Reaction joined Mourne Heritage Trust staff this week to assist in a maintenance day at Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. It was reported during the summer that the trails have had their busiest year on record, and they continue to hold the mantel of Northern Ireland’s most popular trail centre, with over 35,000 people visiting between 2020 and 2021.

This growth in visitors to the trails has led to increased pressure on Mourne Heritage Trust, who maintain all the mountain bike trail centres and the majority of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Newry, Mourne and Down region.


During the maintenance day, volunteers collected litter, repaired damage, and dug drainage along a large section of the more than 27km trails within the Forest Park. Seamus Murphy from Mourne Heritage Trust outlined the significant benefit that volunteer days like this have.

“There is a lot of work required to maintain all of the sites we manage, so to get nearly 15 extra pairs of hands is a massive help to us. We always try to make the work enjoyable, and joke that it’s part work and part ‘walk and talk’. As the weather begins to turn this is a great time to ensure the trails are in the best possible condition for going into winter.”

Volunteers from Chain Reaction, who are the sponsors for Northern Ireland’s National Trails, included staff from their Belfast store, as well as a multitude of employees from different departments from their Mallusk Head office.

Stephen Laird from Chain Reaction’s Boucher Road retail store said the amount of work required to keep the trail in good shape was surprising. “It’s something I think we all take for granted, and you don’t realise how much work goes into keeping the trails looking great until you’re actually out and seeing the sheer number of things that you need to do. So it’s been great to be here and help out.”

Dale McMullan, another volunteer from the bike design team, said, “It’s been great to be out with a bunch of guys from customer services, house brands, merchandising and other departments, to all come together and tidy up the trails. It’s interesting to see, there’s a lot more maintenance that goes on that anyone imagines. Personally, I ride here quite often so it’s really good to give something back.”

The winter is typically a period during which multiple storms can cause serious damage to the trails and require diversions and closures for longer period of times. The volunteer scheme to assist Mourne Heritage Trust is open on an ongoing basis, as Ethan Loughrey from MountainBikeNI outlined.

“Our maintenance days in conjunction with Mourne Heritage Trust are a real asset, both for mountain bikers and the team who are looking after the trails year-round. It gives both groups an opportunity to provide feedback and as some of the guys mentioned here today, is a reminder of just how much work the trails require to keep at a high standard.”

If anyone would like to assist with volunteer maintenance days, you can find more information at http://www.mountainbikeni.com/useful-info/mountainbikeni-trails-team/.


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