Sumary of ‘A Narnia-esque portal to another world’ – a hike on the Ulster Way:
- Portbraddan feels ‘gloriously isolated’ Photograph: Economic Images/AlamyThe intervening decades have been turbulent here, to say the least, and that the Ulster Way survived long enough to be reborn is remarkable.
- Access to the countryside in general is much more restricted in Northern Ireland than in mainland Britain: there are no national parks, far fewer public rights of way, and land ownership is much more fragmented with a patchwork of smaller farms and estates.
- Consequently, most off-road walking routes depend on the goodwill of numerous private landowners and alliances with groups such as local councils and the National Trust.
- Imagine what it must have been like to convince people in the 1940s that townies should be encouraged to roam their landCapper was a career civil servant but his greatest contribution to Northern Ireland was his passion for the countryside, and his voluntary work preserving and promoting it was decades ahead of the time and has proved priceless.
- Prior to conceiving and developing the Ulster Way, he was also the instigator and driving force of a campaign to secure County Antrim’s breathtakingly beautiful White Park Bay from developers, which raised £15,000 from the public to buy the site and then hand it over to the National Trust, which still looks after it today.
- Decades after I first fell upon that old network in the Castlereagh Hills, I wanted to reconnect with the Ulster Way and pay tribute to the visionary ideals of Capper.