Darkley Forest Community Trail


Innovative Product Planning Design and Development

The Challenge

To deliver a safe, off-road, sustainable Community Trail within Darkley Forest, South Armagh

The Role

Community trails connect people from their ‘doorsteps’ to local green spaces and/or to neighbouring communities.

In 2017, ORNI was asked by Armagh, Craigavon and Banbridge Borough Council to develop a Community Trail in Darkley Forest beside Darkley village.  The Forest had previously no formalised walking trails, despite it sitting beside the small rural village of Darkley.

Working with the Community Association, Forest Service and the Council we:

  • undertook extensive consultation with the local community to agree the size and scope of the trail and associated infrastructure
  • worked with a trail designer to produce a detailed plan for the proposed trail
  • worked with an engineer and ecologists to produce a detailed plan for a small car park and secured planning permission for it
  • secured funding to build the trail from the Council, SportNI and DAERA through its Targeting Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) funding programme
  • project managed the trail build from concept plan through to Council handowner


The Results

  • 3 waymarked trails providing 4.6km of safe, off-road walking in the local forest
  • 10 space car park for visitors to the site
  • direct access from the local church car park onto the trail
  • an informative trailhead panel mapping out the trail options
  • a counter to record the number of people using the trail
  • significant community buy-in and ownership resulting in a series of events delivered using the trail e.g Halloween, Easter, 5km, Fairy Door
  • Trail Impact Survey Results