Saul Family Trail Launched

4th July 2019

Saul Family Trail was officially launched on Thursday 4th July by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) Chairperson Cllr Charlie Casey.

The 0.7km trail on the grounds of Saul GAC is an output of the Community Trails project undertaken by Outdoor Recreation NI on behalf of NMDDC.

Eddie Harney, Vice-Chairperson of St Patrick’s GAC Saul said: We are absolutely delighted with the new Saul Family Trail within our grounds.  ORNI providing the direction and guidance both in planning and development and linking with our contractors Euro Services. It was also driven, supported and 100% funded through SportNI with both ORNI and Sport NI 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 NMDDC, Down Rural Community Network, and local organisations including Ballynagross FC. It has been a pleasure working with these agencies, with a can-do attitude ensuring that we have been able to complete the project successfully and within a short time scale. As an organisation this initiative re-affirms our commitment to linking in with statutory, voluntary and private bodies to provide the very best facilities for all the local community. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved from inception to delivery in what has been a very enjoyable experience in providing this impressive, sustainable facility for the benefit of all.’

Saul GAC is located at the foot of Slieve Patrick, a popular walking area for locals and tourists alike due to its beauty and historic interest. The current walking routes around the mountain are quite challenging and are not be suitable for all levels of ability therefore the Council are delighted to be part of this project which has provided a fully accessible trail like this to allow everyone to participate in outdoor activities.

NMDDC Chairman Cllr Charlie Casey said, ‘The development of a trail like this is fundamental in encouraging more people to walk in the area and inspire citizens of the district to Be Active.  Physical activity improves health and wellbeing and this trail provides an area where the community can connect with others and enjoy the outdoors.  The trail which is 0.7km includes picnic benches which overlook Strangford Lough and an existing playpark for children to play.  This will provide a perfect area for families to come out and enjoy their local area.’

The trail offers Saul and Raholp a hub from which local people and visitors can enjoy their surroundings.  This project encourages the development of links within the local community and increases the awareness of the community trails in the district.

Jay Colville, Sport Northern Ireland Vice Chair said ‘Sport Northern Ireland is pleased to have funded this project through money awarded by the Department for Communities.  This community trail will provide access to the countryside and will improve opportunities for outdoor recreation and physical activity.  The creation of this formal walking trail at St Patrick’s GAC Saul gives local people an opportunity to begin to enjoy exercise on their doorstep and complements the Highway to Health infrastructure already in place.  The trail is located in a stunning location – at the foot of Slieve Patrick and overlooks both Strangford Lough and Slieve Croob.  The Saul Family Trail will encourage walking and cycling in this rural area, and the spectacular location will have a very positive impact on both the mental and physical health of people of all ages and abilities.’

Caro-lynne Ferris, Outdoor Recreation NI said, ‘We are delighted to have been involved in the development of this high quality off-road community trail at St Patrick’s GAC, Saul. 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, Department for Communities commented:DfC is delighted to have funded this excellent community trail which provides access to 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.’