On a surprisingly sunny warm November day eighteen Walkers took the train to Titanic and then walked five miles to Holywood. Heather as leader, had planned an interesting walk along roads close to Samson and Goliath, past the Short Brothers building (now the HSE HQ), with a diversion into the lovely Victoria Park. The park is a hidden gem and we crossed the Sam Thompson bridge to get to it. Sam Thompson (1916 –1965) was a shipyard worker. As a trade unionist and playwright, he was concerned with social issues and is best known for his controversial plays ‘Over the Bridge’ which exposes sectarianism, and ‘Cemented with Love’, which focuses on political corruption.

The park is a hidden gem in a commercial setting, an oasis for wildlife and part of the Connswater Community Greenway. It’s home to Victoria Park Playing Fields, which contains soccer pitches, a bowling green and a cycling and BMX track. The park also has two walking trails that centre around the lake. The idea of creating a public park near the Connswater River in east Belfast was first suggested by the Harbour Commissioner in 1854. Progress was slow because the land was very marshy, inaccessible to the public and generally unsuitable for a public park. But it was given the green light and opened in 1906. It was landscaped by Charles McKimm, who also built the Tropical Ravine in Botanic Gardens.

Farther on another treat, a visit to the RSPB Window on Wildlife visitor centre on Airport Road. Claire gave us an enthusiastic talk over coffee and biscuits, and then took us to the viewing room overlooking the freshwater lagoon. The lake was teeming with birds – apparently over 200 different species have been recorded long with lots of butterflies, mammals, fish and plants. Interestingly there are also several Konic Polish ponies which graze the land, creating the right conditions for wading birds to breed. We spent quite some time there and then headed on towards Holywood, past the two Bird Hides, which are free to enter, and on past the old Kinnegar Barracks, the Yacht Club and many attractive terrace houses, luckily well away from the busy by–pass. Some headed home but seven of us made our way to the Camphill Organic Foods shop for the customary refreshments.

Our next walk is on 7th December, to precede the Christmas Lunch at Royal Ulster Yacht Club. Details later.

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Thursday 7th November 2019

Category: Walkers

> back to news