Thursday, 15 September 2016
I was at Ballyquintin last week; and yesterday was spent with a dozen National Trust Strangford Lough volunteers at Gibb's Island, a truly beautiful property beside Delamont Country Park, County Down.
The closest village, Killyleagh, is merely a few miles away and is worth a detour itself, with the romantic, turreted Castle (private) and the celebrated Dufferin Inn a stone's throw away.
As many will know, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is also the Baron Killyleagh.
The term "island" is perhaps a slight misnomer for Gibb's nowadays, given that there's now a permanent causeway and track which lead over to it.
No matter; it's one of the most picturesque places in the county and certainly in Strangford Lough.
Gibb's was formerly part of the Delamont Estate (which I've already written about elsewhere).
It's a very small island, and a large wooded area covers the entire top of Gibb's.
It is particularly popular with local dog-walkers; in fact the grass path round the island is so well trodden that there's no need to mow it.
During certain months of the year Galloway or Angus cattle graze Gibb's; and we do mow it once a year to encourage the wild flower meadow.
Yesterday we were at the top of the island, cutting down sycamore saplings and small trees; thereby encouraging the growth of other flora.
We also collected acorns for future planting.
A group of us lunched on a wooden bench directly opposite the Quoile Yacht Club.
The weather was heavenly: more akin to late summer than early autumn.