We had the absolute pleasure of being guests of Finnebrogue Woods in Northern Ireland. All opinions in this post are my own and I couldn’t have been more impressed. Finnebrogue Woods is a magical family estate in Northern Ireland with a mission “to create a sustainable business that will serve the needs of our customers, employees and family for future generations; all the while preserving our natural surroundings” which they are achieving in amazing ways!
On offer is a gorgeous woodland wedding venue, farm shop, take away, amazing cafe called Fodder, woodland trails and a variety of personally tailored experiences and courses. Throughout our time exploring the site we were all reminded of our trips to lapland and the Finns relaxed outdoor way of living.
Beef, for the cafe and farm shop, comes from cows reared on their own farm and, with very few exceptions, anything provided on site is either from the site or sourced from local small businesses.
We were shown around by the lovely Patricia. She showed us the woodland site used for bushcraft courses. I absolutely loved this area. It reminded me of the forest school my kids used to attend, yet way more exciting. With the exception of some tree tents, everything was amazingly made from scratch by Rob – an ex marine who runs the bushcraft woodworking and foraging courses at the site. It was like stepping into a real life Swiss Family Robinson scene and perfectly showcased the expertise of Rob even before even taking part in any courses or workshops.
Bespoke courses are personally tailored to the groups taking part and are aimed at any age or ability. Rob will adapt his plans as he goes along to cater for individuals on the courses and they are kept small and personal.
Finnebrogue woods do a lot of work with local mental health groups and autistic children, catering courses specifically to their needs. With the courses being very small and personal this is ideal as staff are able to adapt as they go along to meet the needs of the people taking part.
We were shown another lovely site used for cooking courses, events and parties. This marquee had plenty of tables and chairs, space for a fire in the middle and the option to lower the open marquee sides on cosy winter nights or keep them open to experience the outdoors.
At this site was an impressive outdoor kitchen complete with Brai, spit roast and smoking oven. This area gives the opportunity for outdoor cooking courses with chef Dan, in beautiful woodland surroundings, and also catered events. The foraging courses can also be combined with cooking courses.
We were given the opportunity to explore the woodland trails behind Fodder Cafe. This beautiful 1km trail is for the use of customers of Fodder cafe and farm shop and leads through the woods and by the lake.
Along the gentle route there are benches to sit and relax and activities for children to discover and explore. The entrance is within the Fodder Cafe area and the trail loops round and comes out next to the cafe in the car park.
After we had explored the picturesque trail, we enjoyed a visit to the Fodder cafe. We loved our visit to the cafe so much that I have written a completely separate post about it, which you can find here.
With the charm of a small company and the professionalism of a larger one, I loved the ethos of Finnebrogue Woods. Striving to keep everything sustainable and personal, it’s no wonder they are becoming so popular amongst locals and tourists alike.
Visiting Finnebrogue woods with an autistic child?
This place is friendly and relaxed and set in an outdoor setting. From the laid back cafe to the peaceful woodland trails, we enjoyed everything about our visit.
The bushcraft and other courses can be adapted for any audience and staff are very good at gauging their audience and adapting things as they go along. This brilliant skill makes the courses at Finnebrogue woods suitable for anyone. Courses are also kept small and personal.
There is an obvious need for supervision as there is in any outdoor setting. The car park opens to the cafe area. There is a lake in the woodland. The woodland trails clearly go through woods. The cafe is in an open sided tipi with tables inside and outside.
Take away is available if you dont think your child will manage the cafe but we found it to be an easy and stress free experience. Please see my post about Fodder cafe for more information about taking an autistic guest.
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