One of Northern Ireland’s natural gems has taken on a new look, thanks to funding from the levy on shopping bags.
The Woodland Trust’s Drumnaph Wood, near Maghera, is one of the few remaining fragments of woodland that once covered mid-Ulster. This rare and precious ancient woodland is buffered by wetland, with recently planted trees in the fields further north.
New benches and picnic tables, sensitively dotted throughout, invite walkers to stop and take in the beauty of this tranquil corner of nature. And 250 metres of boardwalk, complete with a dipping platform, now grace the wetland area.
This is a paradise for wildlife. Springtime carpets of bluebells, wood anemone, wood sorrel and primrose decorate the ancient woodland floor; while special mammals visiting the woodland edges include the otter and elusive Irish hare.
A plethora of creatures, including smooth newts and frogs, keep their cool in the shady wetland area, now easily accessible. Here, a variety of blue dragonflies, red damselflies and the orange-tip butterfly provide fleeting colour; while plants such as wild angelica – an indicator of land undisturbed – are firmly rooted.
Rosie Irwin, contracts manager for the Woodland Trust, enthuses: “Historical evidence gathered from old maps and estate records, combined with natural features, trace Drumnaph Wood back as far as 1599. As such, it’s one of Northern Ireland’s precious and irreplaceable ancient woods.
“The old wood is adjoined by wetland, equally rich in wildlife. And we’re now delighted to open up this area, thanks to a new boardwalk. The dipping platform itself is designed to accommodate a class of around 30 primary school children, giving them the chance to take a closer look at the variety of mini-beasts at home here.”
This is one of four Woodland Trust woods to share a £38,000 grant from the 5p levy on shopping bags paid to the Department of the Environment. The other woods to benefit from the grant are Kilcooley Wood in Bangor, Oakfield Glen in Carrickfergus and Canal Wood, near Poyntzpass.
Drumnaph Wood has been developed in partnership with a local community group, Carntogher Community Association, who care for over 50 hectares of adjoining land – mostly farmland, woodland and wetland. The two sites will be managed as a seamless whole, offering plenty of opportunities for walkers.
To find out more search for Drumnaph Wood online at woodlandtrust.org.uk