- Service will start on 2 July, running Friday, Saturday and Sunday only for eight weeks, ending 29 August 2021
- Route will run from Glencolin terminus in Belfast to the National Trust café on Divis Mountain
- Service will be free to all users with donations to the charity welcome
- Hope is to bring city dwellers to Divis to discover the nature on their doorstep
One of Belfast’s most popular attractions will now be even more accessible thanks to a new bus route that’s being piloted by the National Trust and Translink.
The new service will start at Glencolin terminus in Belfast and drop off at the National Trust café on Divis Mountain. Beginning on 2 July, it will run every 45 minutes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only for eight weeks, ending on 29 August 2021.
It’s hoped that demand for the service will be high, providing evidence of the viability for a permanent service to be introduced.
Joshua Watts, General Manager for the National Trust in Belfast said; “In 2021 we welcomed over 210,000 visitors onto Divis and the Black Mountain. It’s a big number but I am very conscious that unless you have a car or bicycle, this amazing place is not that easy to get to. Access to nature and quality green spaces like Divis and the Black Mountain can have benefits for physical and mental health and wellbeing and we want those benefits to be available to everyone. As a result, we are trialling this new bus route with Translink to make the mountain more accessible to people that don’t have their own means of transport.”
The bus journey will be free to all passengers during the pilot period with costs covered by the National Trust. Users will be encouraged to support the charity to help continue the service and look after Divis and the Black Mountain by donating £5 – texting DIVIS to 70525.
Joshua continues: “We are committed to supporting sustainable, green travel options for Divis and the Black Mountain and are delighted that Translink will be our partner on this pilot project, using buses featuring the Euro 6 engine, the cleanest diesel engine currently available for buses.
The new bus route is one of several initiatives being explored by the National Trust to tackle traffic congestion and encourage green travel and sustainable access to Divis and the Black Mountain.
Other measures include improvement works to Divis car park making it easier and safer for visitors to find a space off the road and measures introduced by Department for Infrastructure to reduce congestion including signage, road markings and passing bays.
On the outskirts of Belfast, Divis and the Black Mountain offers some of the best walking trails in Northern Ireland, with panoramic views and a rich and varied landscape that’s alive with wildlife and home to important archaeological finds.
The Trust recently received funding from the DAERA Environment Fund to carry out conservation and access improvements to the Summit Trail resulting in path resurfacing, improved drainage and habitat restoration.
Lead Ranger Craig Somerville said: “We really hope that this new bus service introduces new visitors from Belfast to the natural beauty that Divis offers. We’ve improved the trail network so people can enjoy the walks, without damaging the very nature they have come to enjoy.”
Summer is a fantastic time for visitors to spot moths and butterflies on the mountain. Stonechats, skylark, snipe, meadow pipit and other upland breeding birds can also be seen, you may even spot a shy Irish hare.
“At this time of year, we also have cattle grazing on the mountain,” adds Craig. “If you’re walking with a dog, please keep them on a lead. We’re also asking visitors to help us look after this special place by being respectful of the countryside, staying on the paths and taking litter home with them.”
Translink’s Belfast Area Bus Services Manager Damian Bannon said: “Translink works to better connect communities and encourage a modal shift to more active, sustainable transport, while addressing air quality. This pilot project will provide visitors with an alternative and more environmentally friendly travel solution to Divis Mountain and the Belfast hills and allows many people who had limited access in the past to fully enjoy their splendour”.
For more information on Divis Mountain including the new bus route and café opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/divis