Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Walk of the Week: Drumlamph Wood

Sitting quietly to the east of the Sperrins, Drumlamph Wood lies just on the outskirts of Maghera.

Step out, and step back in time, to explore the beautiful 17-hectare (42-acre) spot, which is one of Northern Ireland’s last remaining irreplaceable ancient woodlands — that’s land continuously wooded since at least 1600.

The old woodland has seen the centuries come and go, escaping the timber demands in the 1700’s for ships and building. It is buffered by rush meadow and wetland, with recently planted woodland in the fields further north.

The Co Londonderry landscape is varied, with its spectacular coastline to the north, right down to the majestic Sperrin Mountains to the south.

Directions

From the centre of Maghera, follow the A29 (the Garvagh Road) for two miles, before turning left onto Gortinure Road. Travel for one mile and then turn left onto Grillagh Road. Drumlamph Wood is 300m along Grillagh Road on the right hand side. The car park, off the Grillagh Road, leads immediately into a young woodland.

There are a number of paths around Drumlamph Wood, but the most popular is the circular route that follows the perimeter of the site along the Grillagh River, into rush meadow, ancient woodland and finally wetland.

Follow the grass path past the wooden sculpture that displays eight different woodland animals, including a badger and a fox. At the first junction in the path continue straight on — this will lead you towards a ‘rath’ or fortified ringfort, one of the main features of the site.

Before reaching the rath follow the Grillagh River to the right, continuing along the grass paths through the young woodland. This path snakes along beside the river, offering resting points with a chance to take in the views of the river. You will also pass several ponds.

Eventually you will have the opportunity to take a right through a wetland area that will lead you into the ancient woodland.

This path offers you glimpses of evidence left by past inhabitants, such as old hazel copses and stone walls.

Continue straight on through the ancient woodland until you emerge out into an open wetland area. Follow the path to a hedgeline and take a left, this will lead you up towards the rath and eventually back to the car park.

The backdrop

Visitors to Drumlamph Wood will be greeted by a remarkable wooden sculpture, which contains carvings of some well-loved wildlife figures. The red squirrel, hare and badger are just some of the crafty creatures who will keep a watchful eye on you as you embark upon your journey.

The ancient woodland has a close canopy of hazel and holly, interspersed with some fine old oaks. One such, ‘McCartney’s Oak’, is named after the grazier who lived in the 1860’s and who, it is said, sheltered under the tree during the summer months.

The name Drumlamph, locally pronounced ‘Drumnaph’ is something of an enigma — it could either mean ‘the ridge of the elm tree’ or ‘the ridge of the wild garlic’. The ancient woodland is bordered by rush meadow and wetland, with thousands of planted native trees in the fields further north. The planting provides an extended foraging habitat for wildlife, while helping to buffer and protect the old wood.

The River Grillagh meanders to the north of the new planting area, and winds in to meet you at certain parts of your journey. All habitats provide a wonderful haven for everything from sparrowhawks and buzzards to dragonflies and damselflies. Some special mammals, including otters and the Irish hare, have also been sighted.

The more energetic walker may be interested to know that the wood is actually part of a wider trail — the 18km Carntogher History Trail that includes Carntogher Mountain, which may appeal to the more able hill-walker. Leaflets providing detailed information on this trail are available from Carntogher Community Association, Maghera, tel: 028 795 49978.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com.

Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph has provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation NI 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: Drumlamph Wood.

Area: Mid-Ulster

Nearest big town to start point: Two miles north west of Maghera

Distance: 3 miles circular.

Terrain: Two kilometres of pathways have recently been created, including a section suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Access Restrictions: The wood is freely open to all, all year round.

Publications: The Woodland Trust’s leaflet ‘A walk through Drumlamph Wood’ is available by telephoning the Trust’s Bangor office on, tel: 028 9127 5787 or by visiting treeforall.org.uk/northernireland

Walk Developed By: The Woodland Trust.

Map: Grid reference C841037; Sheet 8 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discovery Series.

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