Drum Manor Forest is the most centrally located forest park in Northern Ireland, lying immediately south of the Sperrin Mountains and west of Lough Neagh. This small yet varied and attractive forest estate was acquired from Mr Archibald Close by the Forest Service in 1964 and opened to the public as a Forest Park in 1970.
Visitors can enjoy the spring and autumn colour of the Shrub, Butterfly and Japanese gardens, arboretum, ponds and mixed woodlands.
These energetic trails around Drum Manor Forest Park incorporate walks through the open parkland and down around the pond, offering both glimpses of the manor house and open countryside through the trees. The trail then winds into contrasting, conifer and broad-leaved woodland before returning to the car park. This is a self-guided trail with wheelchair access.
Drum Manor Forest Park is located off the main A505 to Omagh approximately 3 miles from Cookstown. There are two entrances along the long stone wall of the main forest car park, each suitable for access.
Terrace and Pleasure grounds Trail (1.4 km): Stroll along the terrace and enjoy the vista from the viewpoint. The path at the far end of the terrace will take you down to the middle slope beside the magnificent cedars, then down to the pond. The path skirts around the back of the pond and eventually up to the Butterfly Garden, which is inside the original walled garden of the demesne.
Forest Plots Trail (2.1 km): Leading off the red trail at the large pond, the black trail takes you to a junction where the Black 1 Old Woodland trail separates from the Forest Plots trail. The Forest Plots line both sides of the trail until it rejoins the Red trail. Many of the tree species here have not generally been grown in this country within closely and evenly spaced stands. Examples worth looking at are Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzle) and Thuja plicata (Western Red cedar). Walking boots are recommended for this trail.
Old Woodlands Trail (3.4 km): Leading off the Black trail, this trail passes through the old estate woodland that guards the southern boundary of the demesne and shelters most of the demesne from the south westerly winds. Follow the trail to see a young native plantation being managed to produce timber. This trail eventually takes you onto the Old Kildress path, which passes through the Beech avenue. This trail rejoins the red trail at the butterfly garden. Walking boots are recommended for this trail.
The Oaklands demesne was established around the 1780s by the Richardson family. The Forest Service acquired the estate from the Close family in 1964 and opened it as a forest park in 1970.
The tower and the ground floor walls of the early Victorian manor house remain intact. The balustrade terrace is worth visiting, as the pleasure-grounds and backdrop were specifically designed to provide an impressive vista from this single vantage point.
The pleasure grounds and ponds were developed during a major alteration of the house in the 1870s. They contain a number of interesting tree species, and the layout of the plantings was carried out deliberately to create a special atmosphere.
Drum Manor Forest Park, Cookstown, has many facilities available for educational visits including nature trails, guided tours, picnic areas, seasonal cafe, disabled access toilets and commercially managed forest. The forest plots were established from 1965 onwards and include both native and exotic tree species.
The park offers extensive facilities for the caravan or camping enthusiast with modern toilets and showers, together with a fresh water supply, chemical toilet disposal point and electricity hook-up for caravans. Laundry facilities are also available on the site.
The Forest Service was presented with a quality award for its walks in Drum Manor Forest Park by Cookstown District Council.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com .
CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN 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: Drum Manor Walk.
Area: Drum Manor Forest Park, East Sperrins.
Nearest big town to start point: Cookstown
Distance: 3.5 miles.
Terrain: Forest paths.
Refreshments: The Forest parks run a seasonal Tea Room, and small shop. Please contact the forestry office for opening times.
Opening Hours: The Forest Park is open from 8am until dusk, seven days a week. Admission charges are displayed at the entrance to the Forest Park, and are payable at the ticket machine. Facilities include toilets, picnic areas, wheelchair access to the viewpoint, pre-booking caravan site and camping site. Guides are available to facilitate educational visits.
Publications: Drum Manor Forest Park Leaflet published by the Forest Service. Drum Manor Forest Orienteering Map available from Cookstown Tourist Office
Walk Developed By: Northern Ireland Forest Service ( forestserviceni.gov.uk )
Map: Sheet 13 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, The Sperrins, available online at lpsni.gov.uk or at any tourist information centre.