This Ulster Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve is situated off the Straidkilly Road, an inland route between Glenarm and Carnlough on the hill slope above the Coast Road. Informal paths provide a circular walk around the site, though the ground is uneven and care is required.
This 8.5 hectare (21 acre) secluded woodland, is perched above the village of Glenarm and is home to hazel thickets and mixed woodland of ash, birch, hawthorn and rowan, interspersed with several species-rich grassland clearings.
During spring, the ground is awash with wildflowers such as bluebells and lesser celandine, along with a host of interesting plants such as parasitic toothwort, wood vetch and stone bramble while the pungent smell of wild garlic fills the air. Other rarities include the parasitic bird’s-nest orchid and yellow bird’s nest (Dutchman’s pipe).
Breeding birds to listen out for in summer include blackcap, willow warbler and chiff-chaff, while buzzard, sparrowhawk, long-tailed tit and bullfinch can be seen or heard at any time of year.
In the sunny glades, you may spot the delicate cryptic wood white butterfly or the spectacular silver-washed fritillary, as well as more common butterflies like meadow brown and ringlet.
For a relatively small site, Straidkilly boasts a surprising number of mammals including red squirrel, Irish hare, badger, Irish stoat, pine marten and pygmy shrew.
The picnic area, with its panoramic views across the Irish Sea to Scotland, is also a great spot to watch for cetaceans, such as harbour porpoise or to enjoy fine views of the stunning Antrim Coast and the Mull of Kintyre.
Park on roadside, near the old quarry making sure to not obstruct the gates. Dogs permitted but must be kept on a lead. Toilet facilities and refreshments are available in the nearby villages of Carnlough and Glenarm.