This week, RSPB’s Chief Executive, Beccy Speight travelled to Rathlin Island to visit the charity’s newest walking trail and meet with representatives from the Rathlin community.
The Craigmacgan Walking Trail, which was launched earlier this month with the local community and was funded by Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ Environment Fund Challenge Competition, is a 2.1km walking trail designed for nature-lovers living on and visiting the island. It takes in Rathlin’s breath-taking views and rugged scenery and is a haven for wildlife.
The Craigmacagan Walking Trail is just one of eight outdoor trails to explore on Rathlin, including RSPB NI’s Roonivoolin trail at the southern point, as well as West Light Seabird Centre on the island, one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies, where puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and guillemots return to nest and raise their young before returning to their life out at sea in late summer.
Liam McFaul, RSPB Rathlin reserves warden commented: “The Craigmacagan walking trail is a really special part of the Island. It’s just a short 15-minute walk from the harbour and it is a great spot for leisurely walk, or a picnic with fantastic views back to the North Antrim coast and across to the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. At this time of year, the meadows are alive with bluebells and other wildflowers, the skylark’s song fills the air and you might even catch a glimpse of Rathlin’s unique ‘golden’ hares.”
Beccy Speight, RSPB Chief Executive added: “A trip to Rathlin is always a wonderful experience, and I’d encourage anyone with a love of nature to come and explore the new Craigmacagan Walking Trail and discover this beautiful landscape for themselves. For me personally, hearing the corncrakes calling from the fields nearby was a truly magical moment and the icing on the cake during my visit. This endangered bird was absent here for 40 years but has returned, thanks to conservation efforts in partnership with local landowners. It’s a powerful reminder of the difference people can make for nature when we work together.”
Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots commented: “I am delighted that my Department was able to provide key funding of £12,000 towards this very worthy project through the Environment Fund. It is so important that opportunities are provided, and enhanced, to enable people to get out and enjoy the natural environment, particularly in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The charity has been working on Rathlin for over 30 years to help protect its internationally important wildlife and landscapes. For information about visiting the RSPB’s Rathlin Walking Trails or the West Light Seabird Centre, or to find out more about the charity's conservation projects on the island visit: rspb.org.uk/rathlinisland.