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
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
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
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.