Glasswater Wood Community Trails & Access enhancement Project

Two staff members stand either side of a map at Glasswater Community Trail.

Client: Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Woodland Trust

The Challenge

Glasswater Wood is a small woodland located just outside Crossgar, Co Down within the Rowallane DEA.  It is approximately 6 miles from Killyleagh, Saintfield and Downpatrick.  The woodland is owned entirely by Woodland Trust, who wish to enhance safe access to the site for the local community for recreation.  At present the woodland has no formal, permanent parking facilities despite experiencing a phenomenal increase in visitors since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This project aims to provide the rural community of Crossgar and users of Glasswater Wood with safe, off-road doorstep parking and walking opportunities.  The creation of two sustainable community walk trails and two new car parks will allow the site to be enjoyed fully by more of the local population all year round.

More specifically the project will create an opportunity for residents of the neighbouring Glasswater Lodge care home, to enhance their physical and mental well-being through the development of an all-ability trail.  With the closure of care homes during the pandemic, many residents have been affected by feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Creating an accessible trail for residents of the care home will enable them to safely interact with nature, the outdoors, their family and members of their local community again.

Finally, by facilitating access and enhancing the overall site, this project will, by default, provide a neutral space that contributes to strengthening community cohesion and social inclusion for all.

The Role

The project’s overall vision is to create a happy, healthy and connected community, a vibrant and sustainable economy and an appealing place to live, work and learn.  It is envisaged that by increasing access provision to Glasswater Wood, this will enable this vision to be met.

The project will include:

  • Creation of two community walk trails
    • New Loop Trail around Field 3 (accessible trail) – c.350m
    • Middle Path Trail (to address path erosion and enhance connectivity in trail system), c. 150m
  • Creation of two car parks
    • Main car park
    • Overflow car park
  • Installation of visitor services’ – waymarking, trailhead panel and visitor counter