‘Autumnal treat’ at Killymoon

Cabin Wood, Cookstown. Picture: Michael Cooper
Cabin Wood, Cookstown. Picture: Michael Cooper

An autumnal treat – both visual and edible – is in store at the Woodland Trust’s Cabin Wood, Cookstown, on Saturday September 15 from 11.30am to 1pm.

This hidden gem, just a stone’s throw from the town, is waiting to be discovered. And, in early autumn, nature’s larder will be just about ripe and ready to sample.

The charity has enlisted the support of foraging expert Dermot Hughes, of Forage Ireland fame, to lead a stroll through this charming woodland. Dermot will identify the natural wares that are safe to eat, with some tasty recipes at his fingertips.

It’s the perfect setting. The wood, bordered by the timeless Ballinderry and Killymoon Rivers, was once part of Killymoon Estate. The remains of a saw mill offer a glimpse of days gone by, and walkers only have to look across the river for a breath-taking view of Killymoon Castle.

Cabin Wood’s flourishing young trees – some 12,000 – were planted as part of a millennium project, on land made available by Mid Ulster District Council. Some of the favourites, dotted throughout the wood and putting on a show, include rowan, wild cherry, elder, crab apple, hazel and hawthorn.

The young trees already tower over the tallest of walkers and cushion the fragments of mature and ancient woodland, a rare and precious resource. And, not to be outdone by the ambitious saplings, it’s an old hedgerow with its plentiful apple trees that will be first in line to welcome Saturday’s visitors.

There’s a wealth of wildlife too. Otters, Daubenton’s bats and red deer are just some of the mammals spotted, while birds include kingfishers, barn owls, kestrels, and stonechats.

Michelle McCaughtry is the Woodland Trust’s people engagement officer and says: “This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a breath of fresh air in the most scenic and tranquil of settings. Cabin Wood is well worth a visit at any time of the year, but there’s a really lovely feel to early autumn. And with a helping hand from the renowned Dermot Hughes, this promises to be a truly special outing.”

Admission is £6 per adult and £3 per child (it’s especially suitable for older kids). Booking is essential. Find out more and book a place at Woodland Trust website, or telephone 0330 333 5302.