Walk the Croaghan Way for National Trails Day – Sunday 2 October 2pm

Discover, explore, enjoy and learn by coming along on this fantastic trail.

To recognise National Trails Day on Sunday 2 October 2011, Ballymoney Borough Council has organised a walk along the Croaghan Way accreditated way marked way. This circular 3 mile route starts and finishes at Altarichard Car Park, Altarichard Road, located on the Orra Scenic Route and commences at 2pm. Previously known as the Milibern Walk, the route includes a walk to Croaghan summit from which there are spectacular views of Rathlin Island and beyond to the Scottish coastline.

The route is also situated within the Antrim Coast & Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and forms part of the Antrim Hills SPA (Special Protection Area) and the Croaghan & Slieveanorra Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). The walk will be guided by Rachel Bain, Biodiversity Officer and Sonya Crawford, Countryside Access Officer and participants will have the opportunity to find out more about the importance of this special area for flora and fauna.

It is an area where Merlin and Hen Harrier nest and feed and buzzards are a common site overhead. Red grouse too can be found nestling among the many heathers and moorland /heathland plants which dominate the landscape. Walkers must bring warm, waterproof clothing and a moderate to good level of fitness is required for this walk as there is a steep ascent and stiles to climb.

The open heath/moorland terrain is likely to be marshy underfoot and sturdy waterproof walking boots are essential. The event is free of charge, all you have to do is pre-register your interest by telephoning the Countryside Access Officer on 028 276 60227.

The event is taking place as part of National Trails Day 2011; a cross-border celebration of local trails which is now in it’s forth year and continuing to grow from strength to strength.

Aideen Exley from the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) explains, “Last year we were delighted to see around 1,500 people taking part in free events on local trails across Northern Ireland. However, with everything from guided canoeing trips to historic walking tours and mountain biking skills courses to equestrian trail rides, this year’s National Trails Day is set to raise the bar even higher. We want people to try something different this year and discover the wealth of opportunities that these local trails offer us right on our doorstep.”

Aideen continued: “National Trails Day also highlights the great work of the organisations which develop and maintain these stunning trails and aims to educate trail users on ongoing sustainability issues surrounding the trails. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a variety of trails through our local forests, mountains, rivers and lakes so we hope that people will take this great opportunity to learn about the history of their local trails as well as how we can all conserve these great resources for future generations.”

There are over 40 free activity events planned on trails throughout Northern Ireland as part of National Trails Day 2011. This celebratory day has been funded by Waterways Ireland, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and SportNI with support from the Northern Ireland Forest Service, British Horse Society and the National Trust. There is a full list of all the free events taking place across Northern Ireland and booking information on the dedicated website www.nationaltrailsday.co.uk.