Derrylahan Nature Trail, Co Donegal

This waymarked route starts near the visitor centre in Glenveagh National Park. The walk takes about an hour on gravel and grassy paths, with limited access for wheelchairs and buggies. The trail traverses many habitats, including old oak woods, doire leathan, from which the trail is named. Observe the rich natural heritage and view Lough Veagh, the castle and Derryveagh mountains.

Stops are numbered on posts. A guidebook outlines the main features at each stop. Near the first post, there are native Irish trees, rowan (mountain ash), hawthorn and birch. Conifers include cypress, European larch and Scots pine, common in ancient Ireland. Listen to metallic sounds as finches take seeds from cones. Watch for deer and eagles, recently reintroduced to the park. Butterflies delight but midges bite.

The trail continues by Brogan's Wood, named after a family who lived there before the famine. Lichens grow on tree barks, indicating clean air. In summer, purple willow herb follows yellow gorse, primroses and bluebells. Harsh winds sculpted oak trees into contorted shapes. Woodland yields to blanket bog. Orange catkins of  bog-myrtle add colour. For magnificent views, reverse your steps along the trail. It continues on open terrain back to the Visitor Centre.

∏More Derrylahan Nature Trail, illustrated guidebook, Dept of Environment, Heritage & Local Govt