Now in it’s forth year, National Trails Day takes place on Sunday 2nd October and with over fifty free family-friendly activity events on offer on local trails throughout Northern Ireland, National Trails Day 2011 is set to be bigger than ever.
Aideen Exley from the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) explains, “National Trails Day is all about getting people outdoors and discovering the wealth of opportunities available to us on our local trails. These could be nature-themed scavenger hunts, ‘have a go’ canoeing trips, off-road cycling trail rides or horse-riding trails. We want to showcase the wide variety of trails we have on offer to us all here in Northern Ireland and hope to do this with a whole host of exciting and informative free events this Sunday.”
These free events include a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the much loved red squirrels in Glenariff and Gortin Glen Forest Parks or join expert guides from the RSPB to catch a glimpse of some unique birdlife on trails in Tollymore Forest Park.
For those after a little bit more adventure, there are no less than nine guided canoeing trips on a variety of Northern Ireland’s renowned canoe trails. These family-friendly canoe trips will teach you the basics of canoeing and allow you to explore the nooks and crannies of Lough Erne, the River Foyle and River Lagan to name just a few waterways open for exploration.
Aideen continues, “All events on offer this National Trails Day will be guided by local experts and completely free of charge with all safety gear and equipment rental included. The National Trust and Forest Service are also waiving park entrance fees to those taking part in National Trails Day events meaning that those who wish to get involved will not have to spend a penny.”
As well as providing a unique opportunity for us all to try our hands a new activities, National Trails Day is also about highlighting the great work of organisations which develop and maintain our trails and aims to educate trail users on ongoing sustainability issues.
Kathleen Conlon from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, comments “We are incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful variety of trails in Northern Ireland and we want to use National Trails Day to celebrate these trails. We hope that families across Northern Ireland will take this great opportunity to enjoy these trails as well as learn about the history of their local area and how we can all conserve these great resources for future generations.”
National Trails Day has been funded by Waterways Ireland, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, SportNI and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board with support from the Northern Ireland Forest Service, British Horse Society and the National Trust. There is a full list of all the free events taking place on www.nationaltrailsday.co.uk and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.