The Woodland Trust launched a new look Cabin Wood with upgrades to benefit the local community. Upgrades include newly installed walking trails, improved access and signage – all made possible thanks to support from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) through its Environment Fund Capital Challenge Competition 2019/20.

Paths have been widened, new signs map out the highlights of Cabin Wood and visuals talk about its habitats and inhabitants. In fact, Cabin Wood provides a home to native wildlife including kingfishers and otters playing on the banks of the river. It is also a haven for red and fallow deer crossing over from the adjacent parklands at Killymoon Estate.

The tranquil riverside woodland has been a hidden gem in Mid Ulster, with pockets of ancient woodland, dating back to 1600, and shimmering carpets of bluebells in spring. The popular fishing spots of Killymoon River and Ballinderry River border the Cabin Wood and anglers will be delighted as species such as stoneflies and mayflies are thriving as the water quality has been revitalised thanks to support from our partner Ballinderry River’s Trust.

Native trees

In 2001 the Woodland Trust planted 12,000 native trees at Cabin Wood including rowan, birch and oak as part of a community project Woods on Your Doorstep. As part of the celebration launch event, children from Phoenix Integrated Primary School continued that tradition and planted thirty fruit trees and thirty bluebell bulbs.

Newly-installed signage and way markers at the entrance to Cabin Wood map out four new walking trails of varying lengths. Designed to showcase the natural beauty and built heritage of the area, the walks include a 60 metre loop around the ruins of the old Saw Mill, a picturesque Riverside Loop of 80 metres along a bank of ancient hazel trees and moderate one kilometre walk along the Hillside Trail. A 120 metre meander through Beech trees offers a viewpoint across the river to stunning Killymoon Castle.

Historial significance

Cabin Wood also has cultural and historical significance as it once formed part of Killymoon Estate which belonged to the Stewart family in Tyrone from 1634. The current castle was designed by John Nash, Georgian architect famous for Buckingham Palace, the Brighton Pavilion, Regent Street and Regent's Park and was described in the Irish Penny Journal of 1841 as "one of the most aristocratic residences in the province of Ulster”.

Ian McCurley, Director for The Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland, said: “This upgrade comes at a great moment as we come into our 20th year of managing Cabin Wood. The woodland is already regularly used by the local community but with new improvements we hope to put Cabin Wood firmly on the map. The new walking trails offer something for everyone taking you back in time to explore the history of the site and one step closer to nature for the keen wildlife enthusiasts. We hope that the local community will flock to enjoy this unique environment.”

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said: “The Department is delighted to be associated with this project at Cabin Wood. The funding provided through the Environment Fund, administered by my Department’s Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), has supported this significant upgrade and contributed to the delivery of the overarching aim of the funding programme which is to help people to connect with the natural environment and to conserve our most important habitats.” 

Attending today’s event, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Martin Kearney, said: “The recently completed upgrades at Cabin Wood have made a significant difference to the recreational and visual value of the site. The newly installed walking trails will have a positive knock-on effect on the health and well-being of those who use it while the improved access and new signage will enhance and enrich the visitor experience.

“I would like to congratulate The Woodland Trust and funders, NIEA through its Environment Fund Capital Challenge Competition 2019/20, on a fantastic example of partnership working for the betterment of the local community, whom I have no doubt will fully support, embrace and utilise the newly developed site.”

Public access to Cabin Wood is from the main roundabout at the entrance to Cookstown from Dungannon (A29/B520 junction). From the roundabout, take the exit for Stewartstown (B520) and turn almost immediately left onto a bumpy farm track (before the next road junction), which leads to the Woodland Trust car park.

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Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact: Glynis Watt, email her at glyniswatt@woodlandtrust.org.uk or phone 028 9127 5787.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable,
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life,
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

In Northern Ireland the Woodland Trust cares for 50 woods. These woods contain a mix of recently planted woodland, mature woodland and ancient woodland.