Can we trust the National Trust?

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

I am very fortunate to live close to the beautiful Glenoe waterfall just outside Larne.

Frequently I walk to it in a vain attempt to undo the effects of my fast food diet and sometimes while driving passed it on my way home would stop for a few minutes to enjoy the visual beauty, listen to the thundering of the water and hear the songs of the birds.

Sammy Wilson at Glenoe Waterfall

Sammy Wilson at Glenoe Waterfall

It is set in a rock basin with towering walls of moss and fern covered cliffs. The height of the amphitheatre into which the waterfall tumbles is exaggerated by the magnificent massive beech trees which sit along the top of the cliffs, their branches reaching into the sky like arms reaching heavenward in praise for the beauty of this little paradise.

The sun streams through the thick foliage creating magical patterns of light on the water. In spring the whole forested area is covered in a carpet of bluebells whose colour is accentuated by the darkness of the wood.

The best part is the sound of the birds whose chorus reverberates around this naturally created outdoor concert hall with the booming of the waterfall as the background music. Sometimes in the morning if I am not late for my first appointment, (a frequent occurrence) I would take a few moments to enjoy the free concert. A far better way to start the day than listening to the litany of gloom and doom poured out by Radio Ulster!

The glen is under the control of the National Trust which has shamefully neglected it. I am not aware of any promotion of the area and given the disgraceful lack of maintenance I can see why families may not be rushing to explore it. The paths down into the glen are steep with drop down sheer sides.

The wooden handrails are broken, some rotting and others need reset. Seats placed at various points along the paths where visitors could sit and view the magical vista have all rotted and deteriorated.

One would almost think that preparations were being made to close the waterfall off to the general public as has happened to the most majestic parts of the Giants Causeway where due to National Trust neglect of maintenance the paths have now had to be closed on the grounds of safety.

Government departments, hundreds of thousands of the public and philanthropic funds support the National Trust to maintain our heritage. It seems that unless the National Trust is able to take money off people for entering the properties under its control it has no interest in them and indeed contrives to keep the public away.

In the case of the Giants Causeway it couldn’t collect money from those who used the public footpath along the cliff top so it was allowed to fall into disrepair and become unusable. Better to force people, who want to see the causeway, through the visitors centre and pay £8.50 a time.

The National Trust is not that short of money. After building its own centre on the world heritage site it spent over £100,000 trying to stop the building of a golf course two miles away. It would make more sense to put its money into maintaining public access to the wondrous waterfall at Glenoe and other hidden gems under its control, than into the wallets of barristers.