A new cycling resort opens in Co Cork next weekend in a major tourism initiative at a family-owned country park.
The 500-acre Millstreet Country Park reopens at Easter for the new tourist season.
Its general manager, Donie Howard, said cycle tourism is a growing phenomenon.
“As a non-competitive sport, it blends the ease and comforts of bike riding with sightseeing —it’s a natural for our park,” said Mr Howard.
“There is a dearth of self-contained cycling resorts in this country and we feel we have hit the nail on the head with this new attraction.
“We’re talking to a number of cycling clubs at the moment on the cycle routes and have also a stock of leisure bikes for hire for those that want a casual cycle around the park along a designated leisure trail.”
He described it as a form of leisure that was fast, safe, fun, and put people in direct contact with nature.
Mr Howard said the introduction of new trails— from 3km to 8 km — will develop Millstreet Country Park as one of the country’s top cycling resorts.
The trails range from relaxed, off-road low land trails, suitable for all, to more rugged terrain, all of which experienced cyclists will enjoy.
Thrill-seekers, he said, will have the opportunity to tackle the invigorating hill climbs and the magnificent backdrop of the Musheramore Mountains.
The park, on the Macroom road approach to Millstreet, takes in breathtaking views of Duhallow and the Kerry mountains.
The trails run through the flora and fauna of the park and will encourage cyclists to stop and observe the herd of red deer grazing contentedly in paddocks, among the many archaeological sites.
Mr Howard expects Millstreet Country Park. owned by the Sheehan family, will establish itself as “not just a place where there are of lots of things to see, but also a place where there are loads of things to do for the whole family and cycling fits perfectly with our activity programme”.
“We also intend to work with local accommodation providers with a view to putting together a package holidays especially for cycling enthusiasts,” said Mr Howard. “We would like to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming involved in this project.”
Meanwhile, in preparation for the opening, the park will feature an array of healthy food products and baking provided by its award-winning chef, Eleanor Leahy of Nibbles Food Emporium, Millstreet.
Mr Howard said Ms Leahy takes great pride in producing traditional recipes and family favourites alongside the more exotic mango fruit jam or Italian focaccia. Venison will be at the centre of her dishes in the Park and already she has won many fans for her mouth watering venison casserole, he said.
*The park is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 7pm. Entrance is €15 (a car full), with season membership available at €60 and special rates for OAPs and students. Children under 12 enter free.
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