Come Celebrate Portaferry’s Wildlife and Built Heritage on 21 March

Hedgerows, woodland, sea shore and magnificent buildings are just some of the features of Portaferry’s incredible heritage and on Saturday 21 March, St Mary’s Primary school, in association with the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership is inviting everyone to get out and enjoy it.

[caption id="attachment_55553" align="alignleft" width="390"]A traditional gateway at Raholp. A traditional gateway at Raholp.[/caption]

The event will run from 11am to 3pm with lots of family activities. You can learn some bush skills with the National Trust at Nugent’s Wood, plant some trees and get up close to marine beasties with Ulster Wildlife’s Touch Tank at St Mary’s PS, get to know your hedgerow birds with the Woodland Trust on the Windmill Hill , and have fun with the childrens’ art workshop and “Biolab” at the Narrows Social.

People can also see the traditional stone gateposts built at the Windmill Hill with its magnificent views over the Strangford Lough Narrows . This work was commissioned by the SLLP as part of engaging with farmers to restore some traditional gateways across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and to promote traditional stone masonry and blacksmithing. There will be a demonstration of traditional blacksmithing on the day.

[caption id="attachment_55554" align="alignright" width="270"]Traditional building in the countryside. Traditional building in the countryside.[/caption]

Ards Borough Council have been hugely supportive of all of the work and they are managing their land around the windmill to promote the growth of grassland wildflowers and hedgerows.

Arlene Matthews from the SLLP said: “We will be giving out free wildlife and built heritage trail guides and encouraging everyone to take a walk around the town. Along the way see if you can spot Owen Crawford’s beautiful wildlife carvings. They depict some of the amazing wildlife that can be found in and around Portaferry including an otter, a red squirrel and an Irish hare. Otters are best spotted at dawn or dusk along the shore at Portaferry and Irish hares can be seen at Ballyquintin point “.

The work has been supported by the Department of the Environment’s Challenge Fund and also by the Heritage Lottery funded Turn O’ The Tide programme to engage people with their heritage.

1000 hedgerow shrubs and trees will be planted along the Windmill Hill to give our hedgerow birds , insects and other life a helping hand and primary schools in Portaferry and Strangford are planting fruit trees and other native trees to enhance their school grounds and give young people a feel for our native trees.