Residents of Carrickfergus can enjoy a breath of fresh air thanks to Biffa Award funding to the tune of £50,000. The funding brings a boost to two local woods – Oakfield Glen and neighbouring Bashfordsland Wood, owned respectively by the Woodland Trust and Carrickfergus Borough Council.
The two adjoining woods, together, offer an hour’s leisurely stroll. And the Trust hopes that everyone – local people and visitors – will be encouraged to shake off the winter blues and discover the beauty of this fantastic natural resource.
Oakfield Glen, which boasts new signage, was once a countryman’s residence, built in the early 1800s and decorated with fine gardens and exotic plantings. While there are no traces of the house today, some magnificent specimen trees have managed to survive. Walkers will also come across remnants of an old ice house, tucked away on the banks of a charming stream.
Pathways connect Oakfield Glen to the meadows, ponds and thousands of recently planted trees within neighbouring Bashfordsland Wood. Here, works have included much-needed path improvements and the removal of invasive species such as laurel and rhododendron.
New strategically-placed steel leaf sculptures – created by Kevin Killen with input from Oakfield Primary School – will meet you on your journey. And a new green gym, designed to inspire both adults and children to exercise outdoors, completes a refreshing woodland experience.
The two woods provide a much-needed habitat for wildlife. Keep an eye open for bullfinches, sparrowhawks and singing wrens, with visiting willow warblers and chiffchaffs.
Cath Hare, Acting Biffa Award Programme Manager, said: "Our natural environment is there to be discovered and explored, and Biffa Award is delighted to support projects which encourage communities to do so. The improvements at Oakfield Glen and Bashfordsland Wood not only open up these areas to more people, but the installation of a green gym gives the local community a fantastic facility where they can meet, socialise and get active. We are excited about the opportunities that projects like this afford for communities to learn about nature as well as the other benefits they bring through exercise.”
Gregor Fulton, site manager with the Woodland Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have worked with Carrickfergus Borough Council on this project. The two sites represent one seamless whole, giving visitors the option of a fairly lengthy woodland walk. It’s the most picturesque spot and, with the recent improvements thanks to Biffa Award, it’s definitely well worth a visit, whatever the season.”
To find out more about Oakfield Glen or other Woodland Trust woods visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/woods
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