Ballyronan Local Nature Reserve

Ballyronan Local Nature Reserve

Opening Times: Open all year round (free access)

Contact Details: Cookstown District Council Tel: 028 8676 2205

Address: Shore Rd, Ballyronan, Magherafelt, BT45 6JA

Getting There: From Cookstown take the B73 to Coagh. From Coagh Village continue along the B160 into Ballyronan. The Marina is situated on the right hand side, on the shores of Lough Neagh. (Approximately 12 miles from Cookstown). Ballyronan Wood Walk starts from the Marina. Free car parking available onsite. From the M2 follow signs into Toome. From Toome follow signs to Ballyronan.

Site Description

At Ballyronan Wood LNR there is a beautiful circular walk through a small 5 acre wet woodland habitat. The route is approximately 1km in length. Start from Ballyronan Marina Car park and head in the direction of the caravan park at the north of the site. Located at the entrance to the caravan park is the Ballyronan Wood Sign. Follow the yellow way markers on a circular path along the Lough Shore past picnic areas. The return leg of the walk is via a woodland trail that leads back around to the start/finish point at the caravan park. Ballyronan Wood has a good path system, with boardwalks to accommodate raised water levels during winter. The Woods are made up of Alder, Willow, Ash, Hawthorn, Oak and Chestnut Trees, densely packed along the pathways and providing a thick canopy and a lush environment from which to enjoy the Lough. Near to the wood there stands a large bird hide that overlooks the reedy edges and still waters of the lough. The woodland contains a good range of birdlife such as siskin & redpoll in winter and summer migrants like blackcap. The wet areas of the wood contain plants such as marsh marigold in early spring. High numbers of diving duck regularly congregate on the Lough in winter, including scaup, tufted duck, pochard and goldeneye. This area sees some of the first whooper swans as they arrive from Iceland in autumn. Great crested grebe and little grebe nest along the shore in summer and kingfishers are seen regularly throughout the year. Otter is present all year round and can occasionally be spotted in late evening.


Wet woodland; Background information: Wet woodland occurs on poorly drained or seasonally waterlogged soils. The wet woodland resource is diverse in composition and structure, usually dominated by willow, alder, or downy birch but also sometimes includes ash or oak on the drier riparian areas or margins of flushes. Wet woodland habitats occur on the margins of water bodies along low-land and upland streams, on hill-side flushes and as successional habitat on fens and bogs. Wet woods frequently occur in a mosaic with other woodland habitats and with wetland habitats. Management of mosaic sites needs to consider wet woodland in relation to the requirements of each of the habitats. In many areas of the wetlands, wet woodland is generally unmanaged and is often utilized for grazing and shelter by livestock. In the past, wet woodlands around Lough Neagh containing willow were coppiced. Much of the current resource is largely secondary and of relatively re-cent origin that is less than 100 years old. Wet woodland can be of significant value for flora and fauna.


Flora: Rare plant species include elongated sedge and large bitter-cress, while relict species from the former open wetlands or ground flora are found in old woodlands, including bog mosses Sphagnum spp., sedges Carex spp., marsh marigold, bottle sedge, and common marsh-bedstraw.

Fauna: Wet woodland fauna has been poorly recorded but the number of invertebrate species associated with alder, downy birch and willow is very large. Wet woodland habitat also provides cover and breeding sites for otter and is of value for bats.



  • Community Centre: Local Development Association in conjunction with the Council runs a new Community Centre, which includes a function hall, offices, café, retail/work units and public toilets and changing rooms.
  • Bird Hide: Keys can be obtained from the community building at the Marina Centre.
  • Camping & Caravan Park: Set in a circle of about 10 pitches, 4/5 of which are facing Lough Neagh. There is a BBQ area and picnic tables in the green area in the middle of the park. Electric hook up is possible with provisions of freshwater only feet away. Toilet block available.
  • Ballyronan Marina: The marina is an important aquatic environment for fish species. On a summers evening trout can be seen leaping from the water to snatch a fly from the surface.