New Community Walking Trail for Ballynahinch

27th September 2019

A new community walking trail for all the family to enjoy has been opened at Ballynahinch RFC.

The 1.3km ‘Hinch Trail’ located on the grounds of Ballymacarn Park, the home of Ballynahinch RFC, was officially opened on Wednesday 25th September by Newry, Mourne and Down Council chairperson Charlie Casey.

The project is yet another tangible output from Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland’s delivery of Community Trail project on behalf of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, following on the heels of the Saul Family Trail launched in July 2019.

Ballynahinch RFC is located in the foothills of Slieve Croob, a popular walking area for locals and tourists alike due to its beauty and historic interest.  The new trail is fully accessible to allow and encourage everyone to participate in outdoor activities.

It offers the wider Sleive Croob and Rowallane DEAs another location from which community walking clubs and visitors can enjoy the beauty of the local environment. It also further encourages the development of links within the local community, promotes physical activity, and will help increase the awareness of the community trails in the wider district.

At the ribbon cutting, Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Casey said: “The council is delighted to be part of this exciting new project which is 1.3km long and also includes picnic seating overlooking Sleive Croob, as well as access to the Ballynahinch RFC indoor and outdoor Community Gym facilities.

“The Council has made great strides, over the past few years, in encouraging our citizens to participate in physical activity of different types and intensity. We all know how beneficial this is, not just in terms of physical health—it also impacts positively on mental health and general wellbeing.

“To have a new trail that is family friendly and can be used by all, regardless of level of fitness, will help everyone to use and enjoy the outstanding natural beauty of this area.”

Jayne Moore, from Sport Northern Ireland, said: “Sport Northern Ireland is pleased to have funded this Category 1 All Ability Trail through money awarded by the Department for Communities.  There is currently limited, safe, off-road, all ability walking or cycling trails within the vicinity of Ballynahinch.  The Hinch Trail is set in a stunning location, providing opportunities for inactive people to become more active, providing access to the countryside and encouraging physical activity in our great outdoors.  The added benefit is this trail will be available all year round so participation is not reliant on fair weather.” 

Caro-lynne Ferris, from Outdoor Recreation NI, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in the development of this high-quality off-road community trail at Ballynahinch RFC.

“This accessible trail provides the local community with a safe place to walk and will undoubtedly lead to improvements in the physical and mental wellbeing of those using it.  It provides a fantastic asset to the rural community.”

Robert Heyburn, of the Sport and Physical Activity Policy Unit at the Department for Communities commented:  “DfC is delighted to have funded this excellent community trail which provides access for people of all ages and abilities who want to get out and exercise, become more active and reap the health benefits of being out in the countryside.  The trail enhances the existing sporting provision available to the local community and can be used for walking and family cycling.  It is an exciting addition to this rural community.”

Club Chairman, James Kirk, commented, “To receive the funding to deliver this fantastic walking trail is a tremendous recognition for our Club here in Ballynahinch and I would like to especially thank our grants team, for working so hard to drive this project forward and all our volunteers who supported its development throughout.”

He continued, “We are absolutely delighted with the new Hinch Trail within our grounds. Philip Weston from ORNI provided the direction and guidance for this project, both in planning and development and linking with the contractors, Euro Services.  A huge vote of thanks must also go to the Club’s own Quantity Surveyors, Moore Macdonald and Partners and in particular Steven Seymour, for all his vital assistance in helping us deliver this scheme.”

“The project was also driven, supported and given 100% funding through Sport Northern Ireland, with ORNI and Sport Northern Ireland working in partnership to develop an attractive local facility, encouraging participation by the local community in outdoor sport and recreation. 

“The project was envisaged and then developed through cooperation and support of various individuals and bodies including Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

“It has been a pleasure working with these groups and agencies, all having a can-do attitude that ensured we could complete the project successfully and within a very short time scale.”

James Kirk added: “This initiative re-affirms Ballynahinch RFC’s commitment to linking in with statutory, voluntary and private bodies to provide the very best facilities for the whole local community, here at Ballymacarn Park.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with this project, from inception to delivery. It has been an enjoyable experience and we are proud that we have been able to deliver this impressive, sustainable facility that will benefit everyone in the wider County Down community.”