One of the joys of walking on Northern Ireland’s rich network of off-road paths and trails is the opportunity to get up close and personal to nature.
With a whole host of guided nature walks on offer for National Trails Day, you can discover more about the flora, fauna and local wildlife in abundance right on our doorsteps. Here are a selection of the exciting nature trails which will all be guided by local nature enthusiasts and experts in their fields.
RSPB Birdspotting in Bryansford
Join Adam McClure from RSPB NI, as he leads a guided walk through Tollymore Forest, telling us all about the birds we see and hear during our walk. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for some of our most elusive woodland birds such as siskins, redpoll, treecreeper and colourful jay, as well as other woodland creatures like red squirrels and deer. Adam will also tell us about his work with Northern Ireland Red Kites; Northern Ireland’s first ever species reintroduction and answer any bird related questions you may have.
Glenariff Forest Park Red Squirrel Walk
With steep sided river gorges, spectacular waterfalls and open moorland with breathtaking views, Glenariff Forest Park is a true gem in the heart of the spectacular Antrim Coast and Glens. Not only does the forest park provide spectacular scenery it is also blessed with a wide variety of habitats in relatively undisturbed conditions making it the perfect setting for this Red Squirrel Walk. Guided by the experts at the Glens Red Squirrel Group, the family-friendly route will take you through the forest stopping at viewing points along the way to spot the elusive red squirrel and hear about its conservation.
Strangford Lough Arctic Voyagers Trail
The month of October is the best time to experience one of our islands most epic wildlife spectacles at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Castle Espie. From our bird hides visitors can see and hear thousands of migratory Light-bellied Brent Geese who winter on our shores having travelled thousands of miles from their breeding grounds in Arctic Canada.
As part of ‘National Trails’ day why not visit our award winning centre, by the shores of Strangford Lough, and enjoy a one hour guided walkabout tour with our Reserve and Grounds Manager and witness a memorable, breathtaking, wildlife showcase.
Autumn Oaks Ancient Woodland Walk through Banagher Glen
Experience one of the oldest ancient oak woodlands in Ireland. Containing numerous ancient oak and ash trees Banagher Glen will provide a spectacular autumnal backdrop to this guided walk through the steep-sided glen to Altnaheglish Reservoir. As the expert guides lead the way, red squirrels may be spotted feeding on hazelnuts and possibly even the last snake in Ireland in its supposed hideaway from St Patrick. You will not be disappointed with the spectacular surroundings of the reservoir which provide the perfect place for a well earned rest and a chance to enjoy a picnic with friends and family before descending back to the starting point.
Spot the Red Squirrels in Ballycastle Forest
Why not try and spot a red squirrel in Ballycastle Forest with expert guide Daniel McAfee, Vice Chair of the Glens Red Squirrel Group. This walk will take you to the areas where the group have set up feeders and observation sites within the forest. You will also find out all about the work that the group is doing to help red squirrels within the Glens of Antrim and how you can tell if you have squirrels in your own local area. Walkers will learn all about the animals and birds you would expect to see in Ballycastle throughout the year and when the best time to see some of them are – so you can come back and do your own spotting!
Autumn Forage Walk – Crumlin Glen
You are invited to join a guided walk in Crumlin Glen to discover autumn foraging tips and enjoy the autumn colour. Learn how to identify sloes and elderberries and find out what you can make from jams and desserts to cordials and champagne. There may be some tasty treats in store during the event. Autumn is a beautiful time of the year to observe the leaves changing colour as the trees reveal their elegant silhouettes. We will look at how much food is available on the trees for wildlife over the winter months in the form of fruit, nuts and seeds. There will be an opportunity to spot river bird species, such as Heron, Dipper and Grey Wagtail. This leisurely guided walk, just under 2 miles long, is perfect for an informative and fun Sunday afternoon stroll with family and friends.
See below for details of all nature walks taking place as part of National Trails Day.