Author Archives: charlie

Woodburn Forest and the Knockagh Escarpment

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On arrival, you might think Woodburn Forest looks like just another Forest Service conifer plantation, but it is actually a reservoir catchment woodland controlled by Northern Ireland Water. It contains a descending chain of Victorian reservoirs (built 60 years before the Silent Valley), agricultural landscape history and an old (or ancient) roadway, which once ran to a beautiful glen, down through the Knockagh Escarpment past an ancient monastic site to Carrickfergus. Sadly this ‘Friar’s Glen’ is no longer publicly accessible, so instead this walk climbs to the Knockagh Monument on the high edge of the Escarpment with spectacular views over Belfast Lough, its settlements and surrounding hills.

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The Bleach Green Railway Viaducts and the “Loop”

(or it’s hard to get people out of Belfast)

Belfast Hills horseshoe from Redburn Country Park

Belfast is a city built at the end of a coastal inlet and surrounded by hills. Like many coastal cities, shipbuilding and sea travel feature large in its history and sense of identity. However, the surrounding hills, which played a key role in shaping its development, are strangely neglected.

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Carnmoney Hill Seashore Circuit

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TYPEUrban, woodland and greenway walk
DISTANCE11.3 miles / 18.2 km
part one6.8 miles / 11 km
part two4.5 miles / 7.2 km
SURFACESGenerally asphalt / concrete with sections on well made compacted paths. Short sections of mown grassy paths.
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS1223 feet climb
HAZARDS400m section walking on a minor road – do not walk this in poor visibility. The area is urban in character so you will encounter people – please take normal precautions.

Where is the best view over Belfast? Some would say from the top of Cavehill, but I would suggest that the views south from Carnmoney Hill are much better, combining the panorama over the Lough and City with spectacular midground profile of Cavehill (which is of course invisible from Cavehill itself). On a clear day this fine walk allows you to judge for yourself!

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Walk Local – get to know your “parish”

Exercising locally is the rule we all now need to follow and local here is so local that “Grand Day Out” walks with their Northern Ireland wide focus are not appropriate.

Local highlight from my walk today

However the principle of finding walks in places others might once have considered too ordinary, too close to home – (not Instagram or social media worthy) is at the core of my purpose for “Grand Day Out (NI)”. That same principle works just as well for all our immediate neighbourhoods.

In recent times many have sadly come to view parochial as a term of derision or even abuse – yet really coming to truly know your own “parish” is a lifetime work. Patrick Kavanagh once wrote:

A gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields, these are as much as a man can fully experience.

Patrick Kavanagh from “Kavanagh’s Weekly” 24th May 1952

Also in coming to know our parish we should also come to care for and improve it, for ourselves, our neighbours and future visitors.

So as you walk local these difficult days, look and appreciate what is around you already and think and plan how we all working together it could make it even better in the future.

Stay safe – walk well

Charlie Reid