Raven Nature Reserve at Curracloe in Co Wexford combines my twin loves in a walk – woodland and sea views!
Essentially, the Nature Reserve at Raven Wood has the magnificent Curracloe Beach to the east. And, on the west, sheltered by the Corsican pines of the Wood, lie the North Slobs. The Slobs are home to wild goose populations in winter, making them an important habitat.
So, if you stay in the wood and do the looped walk, it takes about 1.5 hours to complete the almost 7km trail. Underfoot, it is an easy terrain. There’s no ascent, except up the sand dunes on the east to get to the beach. Along the way, there are benches to rest up if you need to. These are also ideal if you just wish to sit and listen to the birdsong. And, better still, trails through the woodland at regular intervals take you to the beach!
We stayed in the woodland (skipping the beach for once). That was a great decision – we got to enjoy narrow meandering trails and wonderful views of the coastline through the trees (see above!).
The Raven Nature Reserve has an interesting history. It’s run now by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and was originally a sand spit protecting the entrance to Wexford Harbour. In the mid-1800s, the North Slobs was created, effectively landlocking the sand spit. The Toole family of Curracloe House planted the original trees in the same time period. However, the Department of Agriculture planted most of the trees from the 1930s onwards.
Aside from the Corsican pines, you’ll be able to spot Douglas Fir, Maritime Pine, Shore Pine, Scots Pine. Others to spot include Grey Willow, Creeping Willow, and Sycamore.
According to the NPWS, one-third of the world’s population of Greenland and White-fronted Geese spend winter in this area. They feed by day on the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. Then, they return each evening to roost in the sand bar, on the southern tip of the Raven.
Of course, special mention goes to the amazing beach at Curracloe. It stretches from the Special Area of Conservation at Raven Point to Ballyconniger Head. That’s a nice 10-mile walk if you’re feeling up to it! And part of this stretch of sand, Ballinesker Beach, features in Steven Spielberg’s film, “Saving Private Ryan”. Filmed in 1997, you’ll recognise the beach in the film’s D-Day landings.
Soft, wind-blown sand covers the whole beach and watch the wind whip foam off the waves. This adds a wonderful dimension to the woodland walk at Raven Nature Reserve.
This is a walk that has it all – it’s in the sunny South East, the cool shade and green calm of the woodland. And, when you add in the amazing beach in Curracloe, you’ve got a walk that few will rival!