Men’s Health Event Enjoys Bushcraft At Finnebrogue Woods

Groups celebrating Men's Health Week enjoyed taster sessions in bushcraft and foraging at Finnebrogue Woods near Downpatrick.

Groups celebrating Men’s Health Week enjoyed taster sessions in bushcraft and foraging at Finnebrogue Woods near Downpatrick.

If you go down to the woods today… you just might learn a thing or two about survival skills in bushcraft and foraging at Finnebrogue Woods near Downpatrick.

As part of a programme supported by the County Down Rural Community Network (CDRCN), men were in for a special treat as they learned some basic skills in lighting fires, making shelters, foraging for food in the wild and cooking in the great outdoors.

Councillor Roisin Howell, Slieve Croob DEA Chairperson; Heather Holland, CDRCN Health Worker; Slieve Croob Coordinator Priscilla McAlinden; Nicholas McCrickard, CDRCN Manager and event funder with members of Claragh Bridge Men’s Club, Ballynahinch, and Castlewellan who took part in a Bush Craft and Foraging Event in Finnebrogue Woods Downpatrick as part of a Men’s Health Initiative for Men’s Health Week.

This initiative which ran for four days certainly helped them all to re-connect with nature and experience the bushcraft in the raw.

Located in the unique woodland just outside Downpatrick on the Killyleagh Road, Finnebrogue Woods opened the bushcraft side of the business in 2019 just as the Covid-19 pandemic was starting.

Gilliam Armstrong, Finnebrogue Sales and Operational Manager, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to take part in a real immersive experience in nature in our School of Bushcraft. You get dirt under your fingernails and you smell of smoke as you cook round a camp fire in this down to earth experience.

Rob Hill head instructor with members of Ballyduggan Men’s Shed and Downpatrick Men’s Club; Downpatrick DEA Chairman Councillor Gareth Sharvin; Jenny Laverty, CDRCN Health Worker, Daniella McCarry, CDRCN Downpatrick Development Worker; and Katrina Hynds DEA Coordinator at the third day of Bush Craft and Foraging events held for Men’s Health Week.

“The Finnebrogue Woods is situated on a private estate and is only 45 minutes from Belfast but it feels very remote when you are there.

“Our bushcraft expert Rob Hill is very knowledgable about the outdoors. He has led in expeditions in extreme places such as the Antarctic, the wilds of Canada, the Andes and jungles. He actually grew up in the Black Forest in Germany and speaks German and Spanish.

Lighting fires is a skill… without matches or cigarette lighters.

“The experience is for adults and children 7+. Children just love it. They get a chance to sleep wild in this ancient woodland in a tree tent literally under the stars. You can book online at:

“You can also enjoy a break at our farm shop and cafe (Fodder), or take part in a corporate day out. We have our own herd of Dexter cattle which provides the delicious meat we serve up. And if you are getting married, Finnebrogue Woods offers something really alternative.”

Nicholas McCrickard, left, CDRCN Manager with members of the Men’s Shed@The Hub Saintfield and members of Ballynahinch Men’s Shed thanked Rob Hill for all his efforts during the 4 days of Bush Craft and Foraging Events during Men’s Health Week. Feedback had been fantastic and many men now wanting to return for a more indepth foraging event.
Inside a Nordic tipi: Rowallane DEA Coordinator Ellen Brennan with Lise Curran, CDRCN Health Worker, Nicholas McCrickard CDRCN Manager and members of Men’s Shed @The Hub Saintfield and members of Ballynahinch Men’s Shed at Finnebrogue Woods for a Bush Craft and Foraging Event during Men’s Health Week.
Rob Hill head instructor (centre) with his cabin in the background shares examples of many items he has made in either wood or leather for use while in the woods. Included are Joel Prescott leader and members of Ark Community Gardens in Newcastle; and DEA members Donna Mulholland and Kathleen Magee with Paula Nixon, CDRCN Health Worker.
Bushman Rob Hill takes time to show DEA members Kathleen Magee and Donna Mulholland with Paula Nixon, CDRCN Health Worker, some of the wooden creations he has made for use during the Bush Craft and Foraging Events.