Sample the Great Outdoors this weekend

Amy Hutcheon and Lucy Healy cook bread with Laurence McBride from Far and Wild.
Amy Hutcheon and Lucy Healy cook bread with Laurence McBride from Far and Wild.
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The kids looked a bit taken aback when we told them they’d be having a picnic in the woods but arrived without the customary ham sandwiches and cheese and onion crisps.

There’s plenty to eat in the forest, Laurence McBride from Far and Wild told us, as we went on our foraging trip.

And there was. Everything from blackberries to hazelnuts and sorrel. We even found some sloe berries on our trip to Ness Woods.

Nice for making gin if you’ve the patience to wait the six months it takes to make it.

Afterwards what better way to enjoy the berries than by eating them with some bannock bread made on a camp fire. But beware, there’ll be no cheating when you’re experiencing the great outdoors so leave the matches at home, you’ll have to light the fire using the materials nature gives to you.

We were some of the lucky people who got to sample some of the fantastic events which will be on offer this Saturday and Sunday as part of the Get Outdoors weekend.

Events will take place at three different woodlands, the forest at Learmount, the woodlands at Ness and the designated parkland around the Beech Hill Hotel. It’s all part of the wider Get Outdoors Weekend with events being held all over Northern Ireland, both on land and water.

In the Faughan Valley things get started on Saturday morning at 10am with a guided adventure and eco-trail through Learmount Forest.

In the afternoon, from 12 noon to 4pm, there will be a demonstration with local birds of prey in Ness Country Park. There will also be guided walks through the woodland. Then on Sunday afternoon, again from 12 noon to 4pm, the grounds around the Beech Hill will be the place for a range of outdoor activities including bushcraft, wild cookery, scavenger hunts, mountain biking, wild arts and guided tours.

“The whole idea is to get families out to enjoy the natural environment together,” said a spokesman for the Beech Hill Association.

The areas surrounding the city are teeming with natural wildlife just waiting to be discovered. Get Outdoors for Families is a great opportunity to get out together and enjoy the natural surroundings and what that has to offer.” Some of the events planned for the weekend have been organised by Far and Wild, a local company devoted to outdoor pursuits.

Director Lawrence McBride said they set up the company to help people develop through adventure pursuits.

“We find that often communities in beautiful areas don’t have either the skills or the resources and equipment to take part in the same adventures that visitors to the area do,” he said.

Full details of the One Weekend, Three Woodlands Get Outdoors for Families are available on www.getoutdoorsweekend.com. Events are free, but some require booking.