The Woodland Trust’s Prehen Wood is one of Northern Ireland’s rare and irreplaceable ancient woods. Ancient woodland is land continuously wooded since at least 1600, and Prehen has certainly seen its share of centuries come and go. Today’s wood is a remnant of the extensive woodland that once covered much of the east bank of the River Foyle, stretching as far as Strabane. At 7.5 hectares (18.5 acres), the remaining woodland is much reduced from its former size. That which remains, however, is a treasure trove – a place of great beauty and a precious wildlife habitat in the middle of an otherwise urban landscape.
Point of interest:Ancient woodland; spring flowers; wildlife; wooden sculptures
OS map:Sheet 7
Terrain:Gravel and grass pathways
Route:The choice of walking routes is detailed on an information board at the entrance to the wood; the walks are also outlined in the illustration below.
Choose between a 0.5 or 1 mile circular walk. In both cases, stout footwear is required and the walk grade in respect of both routes is easy or gentle.
There are a number of sculptures throughout the woodland that will lead you on your walk. As you enter the wood you will see a large wooden red squirrel carving. Follow the path straight past the squirrel and continue straight ahead, with the golf course to your right, until you come to the first stone bridge at a pool of water with an alder tree standing on an island, in the middle of it. This is where you can decide which route to take.
For the longer route take the right path, and for the shorter route the left. The longer route takes you past the sculpture of the foxes and eventually to a leaning rail, where you can take in the views over the city of Derry/Londonderry. Continue along the path until you reach a sculpture of a hedgehog. This is where you rejoin the short route.
From here the path will lead you over a series of stone bridges and streams and eventually you will start to climb back up the hill past a sculpture of a butterfly and you will arrive at the fence above the disused quarry which affords fantastic views over the Foyle. The quarry is gradually being reclaimed by trees and offers a haven for wildlife. The path continues to climb uphill to the sculpture of the red squirrel at the entrance/exit to the wood.
Whichever path you follow, you will be impressed by the tranquility and beauty of this precious ancient woodland.
Facilities:The Everglades Hotel on Prehen Road is just a short distance away.
Accessible terrain:Pathways will lead you on your choice of two circular routes. The walk grade is easy/gentle, though stout footwear is required.
Accessible signage:A new orienteering trail, or ecotrail, is in place. The trail, complete with wooden waymarkers, will help you to navigate your way around the wood. Find out more and download an activity booklet and a specially produced map at www.ecotrails.co.uk
Publication:The Wooland Trust's leaflet 'Prehen Wood'
Publication availability:The leaflet is available by telephoning the Trust’s Bangor office on 028 9127 5787 or by visiting www.treeforall.org.uk/northernireland
Getting to the start by public transport:Take the A5 Victoria Road from Derry to Strabane, along the bank of the River Foyle. Approaching the Everglades Hotel, you will see a signpost for Prehen at the left hand side of the road. Follow this slip road and, having passed the main entrance of the Everglades Hotel, follow the next signpost for Prehen on your left hand side. This takes you to Prehen Park. Take the second left turn into Sandringham Drive. At the top of Sandringham, turn left into Summerhill Park. At the end of the cul de sac you will see the entrance to the wood.