SDLP Representative for Cusher Emmajayne McKernan has called for further investment in Darkley Forest ‘to maximise its potential.’
Mrs McKernan said, “Like many locals I love visiting Darkley Forest for a good walk and enjoy its natural beauty. It’s development has really had a positive impact on so many in terms of health and well-being. Anytime I am there, there are always others there too. It’s a great facility to have in our local area.
“However I am always struck that so much more can be done and I believe it’s time for Council with the community and in particular Darkley Community Group to plan to build on its investment here.
“Darkley Forest has so much potential and I believe the development of a natural play area here would attract more people to the area and encourage families to come and enjoy this place of natural beauty. A number of parents of young children have been in touch with me to ask about a play area. Many take their toddlers and pre school children in pushchairs and prams and feel a play area would be a lovely treat for the children at the end of their walk. A lovely natural play area could be designed to complement the forest.
“We also need more picnic tables accessible to the car park so that families have only a short distance to carry their picnics while keeping children safe.
“A few more benches speckled along the route would also be welcome to allow those less mobile to sit and rest and enjoy the great outdoors and beauty of this forest.
“I have also been approached by mountain bikers about the possibility of installing bike trails. We have seen the huge success these have been in Gosford and Darkley lends itself so well to this type of activity with such a strong gradient. Having biking trails would also be safer for all, keeping mountain bikers on their own fast pace routes.
“I would also like to see the forest receive immediate attention to ensure all pathways are clear and passable and I call on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to carry out this maintenance work.”
“I believe Darkley Forest is a fantastic natural space in this area and working together we can make it something very special for the entire local community and also encourage visitors to this area which will benefit local businesses.”