Two of the UK’s best forest parks could provide the blueprint for Gosford as plans progress to develop Northern Ireland’s ‘first five-star family forest park’.
It’s now full steam ahead after council agreed to send officials over to scope-out two award-winning forest parks on the south coast of England next month.
And the news comes just as the Minister, Michelle O’Neill, expressed her delight with the work undertaken to date.
Two council officers will be tasked with the fact finding mission with visits to Moor Valley County Park and Alice Holte Forest – near Bournemouth – during March.
Outdoor NI identified the two parks as sites they would like to replicate.
Last month, Armagh I exclusively revealed ambitious plans to revamp Gosford to the tune of £1 million.
Central to the overall experience would be the creation of a new visitor centre and café, which itself comes with an estimated price tag of £350,000.
In addition to a visitor centre and café, the plans would include a new walking trail system at a cost of £200,000, and story-telling would be incorporated through interpretation into the walking trails.
An enhanced family cycle trail would also be seen as a key feature of the plans, which would also include a sculpture trail and the development of a Gulliver’s Play Trail.
Car parking provision on site would be extended.
Among the attractions at Moor Valey is a Go Ape Adventure Centre while Alice Holte Forest has top walking, cycling and play trails.
A further visit for council members will be arranged should the facilities offer good learning for the Gosford Project.
Outdoor Recreation NI previously reported: “If developed appropriately, Gosford Forest Park could successfully compete with other Forest Parks across Northern Ireland that are major tourist attractions. This includes the neighbouring forests in Newry, Mourne and Down Council area, including Castlewellan, Rostrevor and Slieve Gullion.
“Whilst these forests differentiate themselves through their unique products, such as Castlewellan and Rostrevor both being ‘National Mountain Bike Trail Centres’, and Slieve Gullion recognised for its play trails, all appeal primarily to the ‘adventure’ market.”
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