ancient tombs, autumn, Drumnaph Wood, history, Northern Ireland, photography, walking, woods

A Dander around Drumnaph Wood

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.

Welcome to Drumnaph Wood

Drumnaph is derived from the Irish Dhroim nDamh, or ‘Ridge of the Stag’ and refers to the ridge running through the reserve.

Natural Wetland

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.

Slightly muddy path

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.

A modern stone circle – ‘Bran’ the hound

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!

‘Ridge of the Stag’

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.

Salmon of Knowledge

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.

Autumnal leaves

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!

Tirkane Sweat House

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.

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.

Amazing chambered tomb

Ancient & modern blend well together on the local landscape, with a newly established wind farm on the horizon!

HIdden Gem

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.


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