There is so much to do here and nearby, from eating out, getting a spa treatment or visiting the sights, to walking, cycling or canoeing, following the Game of Thrones trail or just taking in a movie. For the more adventurous, maybe a boat trip, a visit to one of the local activity centres for water sports, karting, stock car racing or even parachuting and flying! There’s definitely something for everyone 🙂
Or, further afield, why not pay a visit to The World of Owls at Randalstown Forest? It’s not that far out of your way, for a stop-off, especially if your travelling from the Belfast area. A fantastic experience in a wonderful setting, for adults & children alike (sorry no dogs) and supporting a charitable animal rescue & conservation organisation.
PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT SOME PLACES MAY BE CLOSED, OR RESTRICTED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS OR MAY REQUIRE BOOKING
AT THE CABIN
We have spotted over 50 species of birds at the cabin, from Goldcrests and Treecreepers to Pheasants and Ravens, check out our website page ‘Birds at Willowfield’ to see them all. Bring your binoculars, camera and bird identification book, sit back, relax and see what you can spot. To make it easier we add food to the feeders and bird table at the cabin but you may want to bring some extra as it never lasts long!
The cabin is by the river between a hedged field and a small wood, and we have developed the area further to attract wildlife. We have lots of wildlife right on the doorstep including birds, bats and butterflies. We also are lucky enough to have foxes, badgers, grey squirrels and otters. You may not be lucky enough to spot them all as some are usually only out at night, but you can see their tracks (regular runs) through the field. If you can, bring a trail-camera and set it up overnight and see what you can discover? The otters have been spotted regularly in the daytime, both in the river and crossing the field, so park your car a little way up the lane to maximise your view. The squirrels are nearly always seen though, especially on the bird table!
We have a large wildlife pond across from the cabin, in the field. Apart from it being beautiful, especially when the waterlilies are out, there is a wealth of wildlife in and around it, including herons, ducks, butterflies, frogs and damselflies. Why not bring a small net and tray and do some pond-dipping to explore under the water. It is teeming with life and, depending on the season and the level of the water, you can find sticklebacks, great diving beetles, dragonfly larvae, water scorpions and much more.
Please note, despite our best efforts, unfortunately sometimes, given the climate changes in recent years, the pond may be very low or even dry 🙁
We have very little light pollution here, especially at the cabin, so, weather and cloud cover permitting, why not do a little stargazing? Bring a telescope, or you can even use binoculars, and see what you can find. Use a website to determine what star, planet or constellation you’re seeing or you can even download an app that will identify them for you.
There is a picnic table and bench set in front of the cabin for you to eat outside (weather permitting), right at the river to watch it flow by. There is also a fireproof metal plate available to set on it for you to use a small or disposable BBQ. Or why not bring a blanket and have a picnic in the flower garden beside the cabin. It is called the flower garden because it is flower shaped, it doesn’t have flowers except wild ones and the apple blossoms on the trees. And in Autumn you can of course enjoy the ripe fruit 🙂
There is a chiminea and log burner for you to enjoy the cabin outside into the evenings (weather permitting). You can forage about around the cabin to find sticks and logs, but they will likely need drying, so best to bring some with you, and fire lighters of course. And don’t forget the marshmallows and biscuits for s’mores!
JUST DOWN THE ROAD . . .
Founded Coffee, in Bendooragh (pet friendly outside)
Nico’s Complex, this side of Ballymoney (pet friendly outside)
FURTHER AFIELD . . .
HOTELS / BEAUTY SPAS
JUST DOWN THE ROAD . . .
Aghadowey Oval Racing Track (5minutes away) www.dmcracepromotions.com
Causeway Airfield (3 minutes away) leisure flights, training etc www.causewayairfield.co.uk @causewayairfield
Blackheath Pottery, classes, shop & cafe (pet friendly) www.blackheathpottery.com @TheBlackheathPottery
Drumaheagles Marina, marina, play park, cafe & nature walk
FURTHER AFIELD . . .
Skydiving with the Wild Geese www.wildgeeseskydive.com @skydivewildgeese
Garvagh Forest – over 500 acres of mixed woodland trails and even a pyramid to find!
The Lake Kilrea Outdoor Adventure & Water Park
Karting at K-Team Karting, Kilrea
Carrowmena Activity Centre abseiling, archery, canoeing, maize maze & much more
Limitless Adventure Centre laser tag, laser clay pigeon shooting, hover-crafting & much more
Roe Valley Country Park stunning riverside views, woodland walks & The Dog Leap
National Cycling Network (NCN) & Causeway Coastal Route
A significant section of the National Cycling Network (NCN) Route 93 passes through the North Coast, readily identified by distinctive signage. Substantial sections linking Downhill, Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush & Bushmills/Portballintrae offer superb coastal scenery along traffic-free cycle paths.
There is no better way to see some of Northern Ireland’s top tourist spots including Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Distillery than from two wheels.
Or why not take a ferry (from Ballycastle ) to Rathlin Island, take or hire bicycles and spend the day exploring the wonderful island scenery? If you are lucky, this tranquil setting will provide a chance encounter with puffins, seals or even the famous Rathlin Golden Hare!
Check out www.cycleni.com or www.cyclinguk.org/article/cycling-northern-ireland
Walking in the Causeway Coast and Glens – www.walkni.com
The North Coast and Antrim area is justifiably famous for the Giant’s Causeway, wonderful coastlines and a unique natural beauty. The area includes three designated areas of outstanding natural beauty. Benbane Head on the Causeway Coast Way was voted ‘Most Epic View’ in the inaugural WalkNI awards. The area has nine glens including Glenariff the ‘Queen of the Glens’, lush forest parks, secluded coastal tracks and numerous quaint fishing villages. Walking routes exploring this world famous landscape are linear with good transport and accommodation options. The Glens of Antrim in particular will appeal to hillwalkers and offer some stunning views towards Scotland, the Isle of Man and England.
- The Causeway Coast Way is 33 miles (52 km) in length and is widely regarded as one of the finest coastal walks in Ireland. The routes passes by Dunluce Castle, The Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge.
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Now standing as one of Northern Ireland’s best loved attractions, local fishermen first erected the famous rope bridge to Carrick-a-Rede island over a 23m-deep and 20m-wide chasm to enable them to safely check their salmon nets.
- Rathlin Island is L-shaped and sits just 6 miles off the North Antrim coast. The island itself is 6 miles long and 1 mile wide. In the 18th Century 1,200 people lived permanently on Rathlin Island. This number has dwindled significantly over the years and the most recent census recorded the population on the island to be 82. The island is most famous for its vast array of bird life, seal colonies and panoramic views. All this can be seen on one of Rathlin’s spectacular coastal walks.
Lower Bann Canoe Trail – www.canoeni.com
The 58km Lower Bann Canoe Trail is a unique way to experience this beautiful river and is suitable for canoeing enthusiasts of all abilities. Check out the www.canoeni.com for trails, canoe hire info etc.
The river is steeped in history dating back to Mesolithic times. From the trail’s head at Toome, the river flows into Lough Beg – a beautiful area that is rich in wildlife. From Lough Beg it narrows at Newferry and acts for most of its length as the boundary between counties Londonderry and Antrim. On entering its last stretch towards the Atlantic Ocean it passes through the town of Coleraine. The trail finishes at Ballywoolen – beside a beautiful nature reserve owned by the National Trust and approximately 1.5 km from the Barmouth.
We hope this guide will be a useful trip-planning tool, highlighting the access/egress points and useful facilities ranging from parking to toilets.
Enjoy the trail! Happy paddling!
Please note: There are 5 weirs and 3 sluice gates on the river which can be extremely dangerous. However, at all times it is possible to safely paddle into the navigation channels to avoid the weirs and sluice gates. All of these are clearly indicated on the map.
Also, be aware that sea-going vessels use the stretch of river between the Atlantic Ocean and Coleraine docks.
CHECK OUT MORE IDEAS AND INFORMATION AT . . . . .