IRELAND’S first and only 'Alpine Coaster' has officially opened at Colin Glen Forest Park offering thrill-seekers a chance to experience an adrenaline-pumping woodland course.
The ride offers the chance of a ride through the beautiful forest at up to 40km per hour, experiencing the outdoors like never before.
The opening of the coaster coincides with the opening of the 'Forest Flyover', offering an all-new 250m zipline where visitors can experience speeds up to 35mph as they skim the treetops of the Belfast Hills.
Later this summer, Colin Glen will also launch Ireland’s longest zipline, 'River Rapid', featuring a 700m zipline with a 100ft high take-off, offering views of Belfast and beyond as you zip across the Colin River. Once launched, the Forest Flyover and River Rapid will offer visitors a thrilling dual zipline experience at the forest park.
The new attractions are part of a multi-million-pound investment project, supported by Belfast City Council’s Belfast Investment Fund, DAERA’s Rural Tourism, DAERA’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme and the Department for Communities.
The investment is part of the organisation’s wider plans to continue developing a world class outdoor adventure park in the heart of Belfast, including the introduction of new 'Landy Trains' for in-park transportation and crowd management, along with plans for an outdoor café, a new visitor centre and accommodation facilities.
Councillor Áine Groogan, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said: “I’m delighted to see these amazing new visitor attractions at Colin Glen opening to the public.
“The Council has invested £2.5 million in the facilities through our Belfast Investment Fund, and this was instrumental in getting the project off the ground. This support helped secure over £2.5 million of additional funding from our partners in DAERA and the Department for Communities, allowing the ambitious project to proceed.
“This investment will completely transform the forest park into a thriving, world class visitor attraction which will be a major boost for the surrounding area. It will contribute to many of the objectives outlined in The Belfast Agenda, the city’s community plan, in terms of regenerating our neighbourhoods, creating jobs and boosting our tourism offering.”
Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots said that he was delighted with the investment.
“I recognise the importance of tourism for our rural communities and the economy so I am delighted that we have invested £1m from our Rural Tourism Scheme into both Ireland’s first Alpine Coaster and also the longest zipline” he said.
“The creation of a visitor experience in the Belfast Hills not only showcases the natural landscape but can offer long term sustainability and growth for rural tourism in Northern Ireland.
“The additional £437,000 from the TRPSI Programme has significantly developed Colin Glen Forest Park into a hub for recreational and social activity.
“Parks, green spaces, forests and trails do not merely draw visitors to a place; their presence increases the quality of life for residents and in many cases, creates a sense of community and belonging.
“I wish Colin Glen Trust every success going forward and I look forward to visiting the attractions, once the longest zipline has been completed later in the summer.”
And we're OPEN! Our new #AlpineCoaster, the Black Bull Run, and our new ziplines, the #ForestFlyover and #RiverRapid are officially open to the public! Who's coming?— Colin Glen (@colinglenbelf) July 7, 2021
#ColinGlenBelfast #AlpineCoaster #Zipline #MyCGAdventure #DiscoverNI #DiscoverIreland #VisitBelfast #LoveBelfast pic.twitter.com/OkfXsoruwb
Colin O’Neill, CEO of the Colin Glen Trust, said that the investment was a long time coming.
“We have been working on this project for around six years so it means a lot. For me personally, it has been a labour of love to get them here. For the Trust it means survival.
“Now at the end of the pandemic, this has been a boost for us in terms of being able to generate revenue so the reason that we set this up was so that Colin Glen could survive as government funding disappears.
“We can now stand on our own two feet, we can bring visitors in and they can pay us money to use these fantastic world class attractions and we can put that money back into sustaining and improving the forest park.”
Addressing concerns from environmentalists about the impact of the development, Mr O’Neill set out how the Colin Glen Trust have been working to conserve the park.
“We have a 200-acre forest park here so the actual footprint of the construction is quite small in comparative terms” he said.
“We have worked with the planners, we have worked with the Belfast Hills and their expert advice to make sure that the impact of this was as little as possible.
“We have also put in more tree planting a preserved a grassland area around the park. You will see as you walk in that that grassland was more protected than it was before by the road around it.
“I suppose the fact that there has been delays means we can see the ground recover, certainly around the toboggan track we can see new growth.
“When the ziplines were being planned what we did was to make sure that no trees were cut down unless they were absolutely necessary. No tree was cut down until we knew which tree needed to come down.
“There are more planting schemes put in place for the planting season towards the end of autumn.”