Park at Blessingbourne Estate, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone. The estate is on your right hand side just as you come into Fivemiletown from the east, along the A4. There is a big sign up saying "Bike at Blessingbourne". Turn right at the wee roundabout, then immediately right again. It looks like it's No Entry down that road, but it's just a confusing road layout. Drive a few hundred yards, and filter off up the road to the right again just at the gate lodge. The car park entrance is past the gate lodge a few hundred yards.
The trails genuinely cater for all abilities, with snaking single-track, lots of trail features including jumps, table-tops, berms, rock-gardens and drops; and chicken-runs for the kids and the faint-hearted, of course!
The trail designer was Architrail's Phil Saxena, who has designed trails for the Beijing Olympics and the Downhill World Cup, and they were built by Dinsdale Moorland Services (www.dinsdale.co.uk).
If you’ve never been on a pump-track before, then you won’t know how it exposes your “opportunities for improvement”! The criss-crossing track contains bumps, jumps, dips and berms, and you need to really use your body-weight to get round it with your dignity intact. A great place to hone a few handling skills, it is located right at the trail-head, so it’s a good place to warm up before you hit the trails proper.
The whole trail hangs off a blue route of about 6km of primarily snaking singletrack. You will be able to really hammer along on it, and you need to keep your wits about you. It’s perfect whatever your skill level.
There are three red loops where the trails are a bit faster and more challenging. A couple of big table-tops in the middle will keep you honest, and there’s a great section of berms and a few short rock-gardens.
The skills loop has a selection of berms, jumps and drops, as well as log-rides to start, and is great crack. It’s a short loop, and so it’s dead easy to loop round to the start again, and we see it being a great spot for a few photos and laughs with your mates.
We think these trails are a real hit, and we’d encourage everyone who can to make an effort to get down.
If you need accommodation, the estate has a number of top-class self catering apartments on site, and the Lowry's who own the estate are very welcoming - visit their website below. The Valley Hotel www.thevalleyhotel.com is also close by, and if you fancy camping, there's a campsite just outside the estate - call the council for more info on camping, at Tel: 028 8772 8690.
OUT OF 5 BADGERS