Barrmill Park and Garden’s new fairy trail was officially opened last Sunday, July 17.

It was launched with an event at the community centre featuring crafts, face painting, homebaking and various activities along the trail.

Park gardener Carrick Crawford explained: “This is no ordinary woodland fairy trail. As well as the discovery of hidden fairy doors and strangely shaped elf houses along the way, there is now a whole new level of interactive art, creative and mindfulness experiences to explore and enjoy.

“At places along the trail, you can find the portraits of the fairy spirits who look after the special trees, plants and flowers found within. Soon, your journey in nature evolves into a real quest for enlightenment and knowledge through native Druidic teaching.”

Our main new addition this summer has been a specially commissioned Lottery and Council funded series of 13 fairy art works by artist and teacher, Michelle Winslow.

These pictures were based on the theme of the original Flower Fairies books by Cicely Mary Barker. Michelle’s own fairy portraits were based on real children from our Barrmill Nature Club. Their enchanting portraits are twinned with special trees and plants peculiar to the park. Information about the plants, and the meanings and symbolism behind the paintings is reproduced in a printed guide booklet and a series of colour postcards, which can also function as a set of oracle cards, are both available to buy.

Barrmill Park began to be transformed by the village’s Conservation Group in 2010 and the first stage completed was to make a paved pathway through the old tangled, overgrown quarry.

The first part of our trail is centred on this area, which we call the ‘Vale Grove’. This walk leads you through a tunnel of trees deep inside this old whinstone quarry dug into the mountainside hundreds of years ago, at the very beginnings of Barrmill as a village.

Many landscape features here in the Grove were constructed from the remains of a huge oak tree that fell unexpectedly on 25 November 2021, in Storm Arwen.Recently park gardener and creative mastermind of the trail, Carrick Crawford, together with help from his fellow Barrmill Conservation Group volunteers, tirelessly worked to cut up and recycle the tree stump, logs and twisted branches into the stunning trail you can see now.

A Short Guided Tour

The next key feature, just up on the banking, is the ancient Spring of Life with its protective drystone Well Cairn. The waters from here are magic and healing , oozing out from their pure underground source and trickling down to replenish and cool.

Within the depths of the Grove, if you stop for an instant, time also stands still and it’s hard not to feel removed from this world to an inner place of tranquility where only the birdsong and whisper of leaves remains. This is an ideal place where we can teach people to listen carefully, practice visualisation and develop their other senses. We also have a Fairy Well here and Clootie Tree where folk can leave biodegradable offerings and kind thoughts and wishes.

Then behold , as you reach the end of the first stage of your adventure, you come across the Druid Grove with its large portal. Turn right at the small circle and approach the tall tree carved figure in front of you, our very own wizard. This tall carving in Douglas Fir was created by top chainsaw carver, Sam Bowsher, with the plinth and rocky cairn built by John Higgins and Carrick Crawford .

As the trail progresses up the hill, visitors can look out for the wizards ‘words of wisdom’ hand written on special slates and posts and the advice from all the elements of the land.

And did you catch sight of the White Stag beyond the Portal or did you miss this most elusive of creatures and guardian to the secrets of the Deeper Wood?

Emerge from the Vale Grove and into the sunlight where you can arise to admire the lovely Greenhills views over the famous Braes o’ Barrmill .

Descend the grassy hill and veer right alongside our sandy Bee Bank to the bottom of the Vale View streamside path. Cross the timber boardwalk and follow path round to find yourself in the Fossil Grove.

Barrmill is a place long famous for its Carboniferous limestone quarries full of sea creatures and their fossils. And hidden within the ferny fronds here, there might even be a baby dinosaur hatching .

The Vale View Trail

The idea for this part of the trail along the stream is to see yourself on a mission of self-development; your own personal evolution as you steadily arise from these Fossil Grove ‘prehistoric’ times. As you ascend the path towards the future, you pass through the many ages of civilised thought, and evolve as a person though acquiring cultural quotations, knowledge and mindfulness . The idea is to leave behind your stress and troubles, think afresh about what matters and be born anew.

As you arrive back at the park entrance, take mind that everyone has the power within them to make someone else smile today and that each journey in life begins with a single step, or in the case of a wee frog, a single hop. You have already accomplished the first big step.

Look out for information on the Barrmill Conservation Group Facebook page on more upcoming events.