Images of Events held in 2022
Members put up bat boxes near to the Castle
On Monday 14th February five of us spent a couple of hours putting up 14 bat boxes in Cave Hill County Park. These boxes, made by Men's Shed, were nailed high up in the trees along all along the main approach road from the Innisfayle Park gates to the Castle.
This initiative arose from our bat walk last year with Aidan Crean and Debbie Nelson when we noted fewer bats than we expected; we decided to help them any way we could. The boxes are numbered and are easily visible. We hope that their presence will alert the public to these delightful creatures
Members work together to transform the Maze
Twenty-one members and supporters gathered together on Saturday 19th February to resurrect the long-neglected maze beside Belfast Castle.
In previous months we trimmed the existing beeches but today we planted about 750 trees to fill in the gaps. These are willow trees which are fast-growing and in a year or two will provide a dense hedge. We had members of various communities and groups: members of the Belfast Indian and Slovakian communities along with members of the Cavehill Walking Club and NI Young Walkers as well as our own members.
It was a very successful and fulfilling morning's work
Litter pick on Cave Hill
Imagenation, an Indian community group, came to Cave Hill on Sunday 27th February to help maintain the area by lifting litter and, of course, to enjoy themselves. We acted as their guides and they did most of the work. Their ages ranged from 18 months to well, much older! They were a lovely group, friendly, enthusiastic, engaged and energetic.
On a cold windy late winter day they all reached McArt's Fort and then, most importantly, got safely back to the Castle with six bags of rubbish. And then...they produced chai and samosas; proper authentic Indian food and absolutely delicious. It was a really satisfying day.
Thanks to Sanjay Ghosh for setting it up.
Twelve members and supporters gathered on a very pleasant spring morning, on 12th March, to scrape 20 years of accumulated muddy leaf litter off the maze pathways. We also uncovered a mosaic which appears to date from the creation of the maze in 2000. We ave now done nearly all we can with the maze.
Our April volunteering task will be to remove the ivy from the surrounding yew hedge. Belfast City Council has already cut that lovely hedge down to a much more suitable height. Our hope is that they will do some more improvement and then the maze will be ready to be used as a place to enjoy.
Laying paths in the maze
Work continues on the Maze
On 9th April, which was another pleasant sunny morning, members and supporters gathered to do some more work on restoring the maze. Fifteen of us reinforced the fence posts and removed ivy from the surrounding yew hedge. We hope to finish both these tasks in our May event. Thanks to all who took part and especially to Ann for the coffee.
The Geology of Cave Hill
Fourteen members and supporters, including two youngsters, met at the Castle on Saturday 23rd April for our first guided walk of 2022. Kirstin Lemon, the well-known geologist, was there to guide the walk for more than three hours across the top of Cave Hill. We learned about continental drift 240 millions years ago; this was when the supercontinent began breaking up and landmasses drifted to form the continents we are familiar with today. The weather was splendid and Kirstin was as entertaining and erudite as ever; everyone really enjoyed the occasion.
Focus on the past
During the geology walk we looked at many rocks that naturally occurred on Cave Hill. One of these rocks was limestone. In the past limestone was extracted from the quarry on the slopes of Cave Hill. The limestone was carried, via the aptly named Limestone Road, on train tracks to the docks. From there it was taken by ship to Scotland for processing. Another use for the limestone was to act as ballast for the sailing ships when the holds were empty. The limestone would be unloaded at its destination and replaced by an alternative cargo for the return or onward journey.
Dawn Chorus on 7th May
Thirteen of members and supporters met together at the gates on Innisfayle Park at 5 am on 7th May and John O'Boyle brought us on a dander to listen to the wonderful dawn chorus. So many different birds were singing that it was confusing at first. But with John's expert help we learned to distinguish them and we heard or saw over 20 species. The weather was clear and calm and we had a delightful time.
Forage on Cave Hill 14th May
Fifty-three members and supporters arrived at the Castle on 14th May, including 2 year old Lewis in a buggy, to discover what edible plants grow on Cave Hill.. We were guided around the estate by the superb team of Phil Simpson and his colleagues Davy and Leah, all from Buzzard Bushcraft. We sampled lots of edibles, heard mythologies attached to specific plants, saw how to make cordage and also how to make fire. Some youngsters actually struck sparks from flint and steel and made their own fire. After our walk we gathered around Davy's stove to sample nettle soup and wild garlic butter. What a wonderfully eye-opening and informative morning!
Work continues at the Maze
Another successful day in our mission to revive the maze in the Castle estate. We were joined by 7 students and teachers from Belfast Met and together we reinforced the fence within the maze and planted 30 foxgloves around the inside of the yew hedge. This group was great to work with and were happy to take on any task; they mixed very well with our other volunteers and provided enthusiasm and energy! We are grateful to Bill Love of Stupidpricedplants (sppni.co.uk) for the generous donation of the plants. The students in particular are looking forward to revisiting the maze when their flowers have burst into bloom.'m a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.
The Birds of Cave Hill
Thirty members and supporters gathered near the Castle in the morning of Saturday 28 May. There we met with licensed bird-ringer Aidan Crean who had set up special mist-nets to catch birds flying by. We were then invited to watch him ring two black-caps, a male and a female, a chaffinch, a robin (shown here) and a goldcrest (also shown here). It was rare privilege to participate and to learn so much about the birds we see daily; how far they travel and how long-lived they are. Aidan entertained and informed us all the while in a wide-ranging talk about how wonderful, enterprising and versatile birds really are.
Birds are safely caught in a specially licensed net. They are then safely fitted with a very light and sized ring which carries a unique number which will allow identification. Birds are immediately released should they show any sign of stress
Summer Solstice Walk
Forty-eight members and supporters came together on Saturday 18th June at 3.30 at the Castle to walk to McArt's Fort to see the sunrise at 4.46 - its earliest this year. It was a wonderful occasion. The weather was calm if a little cold and the air smelt fresh. We were of a wide range of ages, from about seven to well over retirement age, and from many parts; in particular twenty-five members of the local Indian community organisation Imagenation. As usual the sights on Cave Hill were stunning! At the end of the walk, around 6 o'clock, when were back at the Castle, our friends from Imagination, and not for the first time, produced samosas and chai; we had never had a breakfast as tasty and welcome!
Identifying the trees that grow on Cave Hill
Karl Hamilton, of Mantella Environmental Education, is a well-known ecologist with a comprehensive knowledge of plants. On Saturday 25th June, Karl took 16 members and supporters on a three-hour dander around the park near the Castle. During the walk, he introduced us to a wide range of trees, both native and foreign. Over the centuries, Cave Hill has accumulated many, many tree species. Absolutely fascinating!
Members spend another Saturday at the Maze
Another successful and enjoyable morning's work in the Maze. Members and supporters cleared much of the new growth from the bases of the newly planted willows and put in a few more supporting posts. The craic was good and there was a lot of talking and laughiing!