Maps and photos note: click or tap to see any maps or photographs below as a high resolution version.
|Ness Woods from the Country Park Visitor Centre||2.0 miles||272 feet|
|Burntollet Wood from the Country Park Visitor Centre||3.0 miles||308 feet|
|A wildflower odyssey|
Ness Wood(s) is a confusing place, hidden away, a little difficult to find and hard to get your head around without a suitable map (hopefully the offering above will serve).
I first attempted to visit the newly opened Ness Woods in the early 1970s. This was unsuccessful owing to my missing a turning where the direction sign was situated in such a way to be clearly visible in the car rear-view mirror as you sailed past the junction. Today that sign still sits in the same place – beware! Several years later I finally made it to the woods and discovered one of the finest special places I know. The Burntollet River cuts deeply into the schist bedrock and as it turns and drops (60 feet in a single fall at one point) it has carved out a rocky haven for native flora and fauna. Generally too steep to farm or clear, but with a chain of small and larger flat areas on the valley floor which hint at possible ancient uses.
Today the original Ness Woods has been incorporated in to the Ness Country Park, a chain of old and new planted wooded areas along a 5km section of the Burntollet River. There are now three points of access with parking. The original Ness Woods at the top of the glen, the new Country Park car parks in the middle (well signposted from the A2 main road) and at the lower point Ervey Woods which also gives access to the major new woodland planting by the Woodland Trust which affords spectacular views over the Faughan Valley. The Country Park lower car park is probably the best place to start – there is an information point there and excellent toilets. However, opening is seasonal (see the official website) and the car park closes late afternoon / evening) so one of the other car parks may be more suitable.
The whole country park can be walked in a single day, but there is a lot to see (and hear) so I would recommend slowing down and taking your time, with perhaps a morning visit to Ness Woods, a return for a picnic at the visitor centre (not always manned) and then an afternoon walk to Ervey / Tamnymore Woods and then the spectacular new Burntollet Wood.
See the links below for detailed descriptions:
- Ness Woods from the Country Park Visitor Centre
- Every / Tamnymore / Burntollet Wood from the Country Park Visitor Centre