Historic Belfast wood to show off new look with unmissable spring event

Toni Wilkinson and Andrew Christie of Hazelwood Integrated Primary School take a closer look at Throne Wood
Toni Wilkinson and Andrew Christie of Hazelwood Integrated Primary School take a closer look at Throne Wood

Families and nature lovers are invited to put a spring in their step at the Woodland Trust’s Throne Wood in north Belfast.

Saturday 29 April, from 11am to 4pm, sees an afternoon brimming with guided walks; tales; and

Step into Throne Wood in north Belfast on Saturday 29 April

Step into Throne Wood in north Belfast on Saturday 29 April

mini-beast hunts.

The centuries-old wood, at the foot of Cave Hill, can’t wait to show off its new look, made possible

thanks to funding of almost £48,000 from the Alpha Programme, administered by Groundwork

Northern Ireland 1 .

The welcoming facelift includes improved pathways and entrances, while a new dipping platform

allows nature detectives to take a closer look at the revamped pond and its inhabitants.

A dazzling metal sculpture in the form of a heron takes pride of place beside the pond. This crafty

creation is the handiwork of Kevin Killen, with input from children at next door’s Hazelwood

Integrated Primary School who use the wood as an outdoor classroom.

Michelle McCaughtry is the Woodland Trust’s people engagement officer and says: “Throne Wood

really is a breath of fresh air, right on the doorstep of the city. It’s a fantastic green oasis, just

waiting to be loved.

“This spring event is the icing on the cake. A professional storyteller will entertain young minds, no

doubt with some tall tales included. And don’t miss the mini-beast hunt. It’s a chance to discover

the tiny insects at home here; and we’ll hopefully catch a glimpse of some larger creatures, too.”

The tranquil Throne Wood is steeped in history and holds heart-warming memories of Sheila the

baby elephant, from nearby Belfast Zoo. During the Second World War a number of the zoo animals

were shot on orders from the Ministry of Public Security, with fears for public safety if the animals

should escape during bombing. But baby Sheila was spared and taken under the wing of one of the

zoo keepers. Every night, the calf was walked through Throne Wood to spend the night safely

ensconced in her keeper’s home on the Whitewell Road. Every morning she was returned to the

zoo.

Today, while elephant sightings are unlikely, the wood is alive with insects and birds, including the

goldcrest, treecreeper, jay and sparrowhawk. Several species of bat, such as the common pipistrelle,

have also been recorded. Springtime visitors will be treated to colourful displays of bluebell, lesser

celandine and wood anemone.

For those on foot, Throne Wood can be accessed via the Antrim Road, not far from Belfast Zoo.

Those travelling by car should park at Valley Leisure Centre; a minibus will transport you to the

wood.

The event is free, but booking in advance is essential. The fun begins at 11am. Walks are on the

hour, every hour. Book online and get all the detail at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/events ; or call

0330 333 5302.