Saturday 2nd December 2017
Drumnaph Nature Reserve, Maghera – 3 miles
Despite a misty mizzle as we left Coleraine, the day brightened up & we were able to enjoy a generally dry walk.
Drumnaph is derived from the Irish Dhroim nDamh, or ‘Ridge of the Stag’ and refers to the ridge running through the reserve.
There are 3 trails around the reserve – the Woodland Trail (4km), the Ruachan Trail (1km) & the Loch Bran Trail (1.5km) – which are well laid out with plenty of information boards.
The Loch Bran Trail was closed, probably due to muddy, flooded paths, but despite this we still had an enjoyable dander around the seasonally bare wood.
On the Woodland Trail there is a modern stone circle which was designed by the local community to reflect local folklore. The hound represents ‘Bran’ who was owned by Fionn MacCumhaill – folklore has it that Fionn received the gift of knowledge from an ancient fish!
The stag depicts the Drumnaph’s name – ‘Ridge of the Stag’ and the salmon represents the ancient salmon of knowledge & also the Atlantic salmon who battle upstream to spawn each year.
Ireland is the least wooded country in Europe so it is lovely that this woodland is full of ancient hazel, holly & oak trees which have survived over the centuries.
However, in addition to these ancient trees, 30,000 native trees of ash, oak, hazel & rowan were planted in 1998 to enhance the wood for future generations!
After our short walk we decided to go on a bit of a ‘mystery’ tour around some of the local historical sites – Tirkane sweat house & Knockoneill prehistoric tomb.
The sites are real hidden gems, containing so much history within their structures. The Knockoneill tomb is an amazing example of a prehistoric tomb & is well preserved and protected.
Ancient & modern blend well together on the local landscape, with a newly established wind farm on the horizon!
It was a shorter than normal walk by our standards but it was still very enjoyable as we went on a ‘mystery tour’ around some of the many ancient sites in the local area. We rounded the day off with tea and some fantastic traybakes at The White Goose to celebrate our final walk of 2017.