Support grows for campaign to allow horse-riding in forest park

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Support grows for campaign to allow horse-riding in forest park thumbnail'Keep Castlewellan Forest Park open for horses' on facebook

A FACEBOOK page set up to prevent horses being stopped from using Castlewellan Forest Park has received over 2,600 likes in less than a week.

The page entitled, 'Keep Castlewellan Forest Park open for horses' was created after it was revealed that horses have been banned from entering the forest park after almost five decades.

A Newry, Mourne and Down District Council spokesman said that the Forestry Service NI "advised that essential tree harvesting works are currently being carried out at Castlewellan Forest Park, clearing areas affected by previous storms", and that was the reason for the closure.

However, horse enthusiasts have said they cannot understand why the park is "only closed to horses" and that the council has given "no guarantee that it will reopen".

Castlewellan business Mount Pleasant Pony Trekking, which has used the forest park for over 40 years, are also concerned for their future given that the forest park is closed to riders.

The Ulster Rural Riders Association also lent its support to the group.

A council spokesman said: "For safety reasons, the horse trekking trail has been closed and Forestry Service anticipate that harvesting operations will continue until the end of the summer and that an alternative trekking trail is available at Tollymore Forest Park."

A recreation forester with the forest park told concerned horse owners that "since 2013, there has been a major increase in the use of Castlewellan Forest Park for walking and cycling activities following new trail developments in partnership with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council".

“As the harvesting operation progresses, we intend to liaise with the council on the most appropriate range of activities to be provided at Castlewellan Forest Park."


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