Hi and happy Friday to everyone. As promised, I am exploring Clare Glen Forest with you this week. Late last autumn, we were up visiting family in Gilford Co Down when my hubby’s brother, Phillip, suggested we all go for a walk in a forest park near Tandragee (I have totally forgotten the name of it). But, when we arrived, it was absolutely jammed with an Archery shoot.
One slight detour later, after coffee, we landed in Clare Glen Forest. Having no idea what to expect, I popped on my hiking boots, and we all set off. The forest is by no means huge. However, you can combine routes to make a loop of roughly 3.2 km.
There are three routes to choose from, the River Trail at 1.7km, the Glen View trail at 1.7km and finally, the Bluebell trail at 1.6km.
We initially followed the Glen View trail and crossed the bridge over the river Crusher to join the River Trail. Then, walked a slow and meandering 2.8km loop back to the car park.
And what a stunning walk it was. All of the forest’s autumnal colours were vibrantly on display. It was like being in a fairy wonderland. Leaves floated slowly to the ground, adding to the rusty coloured carpet already there. Bright blue skies broke through the tree-lined canopy where the leaves had left their branches naked and exposed.
Nature with its unpretentious beauty can take your breath away, and my stroll in Clare Glen was one of those occasions. I was giddy with excitement kicking my feet through the thick layer of leaves as we hunted for mushrooms, threw the ball with Missy, and played tag with my nephew Finlay.
I felt like I was in Hundred Acre Woods and that Winnie the Pooh and all his friends were sure to greet us along the way. A much-discussed topic with Finlay and Missy as we walked.
The Glen View Trail is quite undulating, giving us plenty of opportunities to run up and down, with views between the trees of the River Crusher as it flowed beneath us. Approximately three-quarters of the way along the route, a bridge leads to the River Trail. Crossing it, there is a beautiful vista of the river as it cascades over the bedrock. Leading onto a picture frame shot with a bench perfectly placed to while away a few hours, soaking up the peace and tranquillity of the space.
If I lived closer, this would be one of my go-to places to meditate or read or just sit and not do anything. Maybe take a leaf out of Pooh Bear’s book and just be.
After dawdling for nearly two hours, hugging a tree that required two of us to embrace it and feeling totally relaxed, we made our way back to the car park.
Afterwards, I pinned Clare Glen Forest as a go-to place in my Google maps and looked up some information online.
The forest is very well facilitated with ample parking and toilet facilities in the car park. In addition, there are several benches all along the trails. Dogs are welcome and should be kept under control, obviously cleaning up after them.
The forest is populated with Hazel, Oak, Ash and Elm trees. Many of the trees are multi-stemmed, meaning that the woods may have been managed by Coppicing (I had to Google that one).
Coppicing, I discovered, is a traditional way of managing woodlands sustainably. Whereby the tree is cut back to the stool (base), and branches are allowed to grow from the stool. I have attached a link to a short video if you are interested in finding out a bit more. What is Coppicing?
When I was Googling Clare Glen, I came across reviews saying the Bluebell Trail is particularly stunning in late April/May when the Bluebells are out. I absolutely can’t wait to see this. When I go, I will bring you along with me.
Clare Glen and other walks in NI are all listed on https://walkni.com/walks/clare-glen/
Next week I will be taking you on a hike to the Lookout Post on Moyteogue Head, Keem Bay, Achill. Until then, wishing you a wonderful week.