Battle your way around this truly fantastic forest
The town of Garvagh has been around for a long time but was rebuilt as a plantation town after it was destroyed by fire in the Battle of Garvagh. It can now boast more than 200 hectares of forest on the western outskirts of the town, with trees ranging from some that are more than 80 years old to others planted for the Millennium.
Points of interest include an actual pyramid — a folly created by the Canning Family — as well as Agivey River and the splendid annual show of bluebells during May.
Garvagh Forest has a network of around 11km of paths and roads winding through a mixture of conifer and broadleaved trees. For today’s walk, you can choose between two waymarked ways — the Pyramid Trail (shown in blue on the map) and the longer River Trail (red).
Follow the signs for Garvagh town — the forest car park is on the western side of the main A29 road, between Garvagh High School and the Ballinameen Bridge over the Agivey River.
Both trails featured on the map start and finish in the same place. The shorter route is called the Pyramid Trail and is marked in red. The longer route is called the River Trail, coloured blue.
These walks are fully waymarked through the forest and there is the appropriate signage to make sure walkers are well informed when they arrive.
The small town of Garvagh was important from very early times. Its broad main street and neatly planned buildings are evidence today of that period.
A striking feature of the town is the stone war memorial housing an attractive clock and castellations which dominate the main thoroughfare.
The rich rural tradition of the town and its environs is superbly illustrated in the Garvagh Museum, which contains a veritable history of agriculture and horticulture of the 19th and early 20th century.
Garvagh Forest has a network of around 11 kilometres of paths and roads (including two waymarked walks) winding through both conifer and broadleaved trees and their associated vegetation — everything from the spectacular bluebells in April and May to the foxgloves in July and August and the Common Spotted Orchids blossoming from June to August.
Also be on the watch for a plant called Herb Robert, or Stinky Bob as it is commonly called, which is a common plant whose pink flowers bloom from April until the beginning of September.
The alternative name becomes apparent when you take a sniff of the flower in the summer.
The forest is home not only to plants, but also many birds and animals, including squirrels, hares, finches and coal tits to name but a few.
The newly created wildlife pond near the District Forest Office is quickly becoming a haven for many aquatic species, especially frogs, so keep an eye out for all manner of beasts and plants.
The final unusual habitat in Garvagh Forest is the Garvagh Pyramid, created as a burial chamber for Lord Garvagh in the 19th century.
Unfortunately the pyramid was never allowed to fulfil the task it was designed for and was sealed shut with no incumbent a number of years ago.
Garvagh Forest offers picnic tables and an information board situated at the car park. There is also a permanent orienteering course created by the North West Orienteering Club.
These walks are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network, tel: 028 9030 3930 or visit www.walkni.com .
WalkNI in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. WalkNI and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.
Walk Name: Garvagh Forest.
Nearest big town to start point: Garvagh.
Distance: 1 to 5 miles.
Terrain: Gravel paths and forest roads.
Refreshments: Café and restaurants are open all year round in Garvagh.
Map: Sheet 8 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop, Lincoln Buildings 27-45 Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7SL ( www.lpsni.gov.uk. )