Saving Farlow Woods & Sampson’s Tower

Built in 1860


About the Project

The project itself is closely linked to the protection of the natural resources within the site, protecting any areas where there is native woodland present and encouraging the education of the protection of built monuments, in this case the Folly Sampsons Tower.  The natural environment also includes the education about wild animals on the locality, and to do this, this project allows for the education trail that is socially inclusive for all.  The social inclusion will allow for any disability, seen and unseen, encouraging and promoting the wellbeing benefits of outdoor activities, thereby encouraging all persons to contribute to the nature protection of our environment within this area.

If you would like to keep up to date with our progress on this project please visit our blog.


A Bit of Background

Our project deals with a privately owned wood called Farlow Wood – it has lain unused and unaltered for the last 50 years, having been planted in 1784 by John Sterling of 148 Sycamore, 50 apple and 150 cherry (numbers taken from a PRONI publication “A Register of Trees for Co. Londonderry 1768-1911”.  

Matthew Ferguson’s father and grandfather were land stewards for the wood, owned by the Tyler-MacDonald family and he was born and grew up in Lisnakelly House backing onto the woodland, helping his father until much of the land around the wood was sold off for death duties. On coming back to Ballykelly in 2016 on retirement, he made a point of getting in touch with them, requesting access to the woodland and the Folly erected on it, which local younger generations have thought to be a “story” only. 

On behalf of RVAR, he put forward a plea that the woodland was sorely neglected and storms were causing untold damage to many of the older trees. An advisory forum has been created to help and bring it into public recognition and use as a local “Hidden Gem”.


Opening and Access

Planning to be open for general public a minimum of 104 days per year as follows:

  • Wed 10 am to 3 pm (5 x hours) for school visits, term times, booking process & guides essential
  • Sat 10 am to 6pm (8 x hours), extended summertime hours to 9pm for walkers (May-Aug) Workshops by arrangement, guides by arrangement
  • Sun 1pm to 5pm (4 x hours), extended summertime hours to 9pm for walkers (May to Aug) free walks, no bicycles in the woods area.  = 17 hours per week, extended to 24 hours May to Aug.

Dogs: Allowed but must be on lead at all times, foul bins to be used

Disabled access: Throughout but restricted to outside of Tower (cannot be made disabled friendly).

Car parking: Entrance area only.

Gate entrance: Sign in sign out procedures for Health & Safety.


DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA visits Farlow Wood, Limavady

Planning & Access

Farlow Woods is just outside the town of Limavady on the A2, a quarter of a mile outside the Seacoast Roundabout and accessible both from Limavady and the recent bypass. Farlow Road is narrow but an existing old gateway into the woods allows for access in at present. 

A small initial park area for the next 12 months will allow access for walkers, hikers and parking for cyclists but parking spaces only for about 6 cars.  Access will be free, but this year an essential provision from RVAR will be tour guides, walk leaders and volunteers with all visitors to the woods up as far as Sampsons Tower only.


Future Plans

  1. Create a firm basis for a pathway & trail from the gate to the folly (called Sampsons Tower) with full disabled access but sympathetic to the wood.
  2. Create a small composting toilet area, to be a wattle & daub type from woodland materials.
  3. Create some sort of sensory component to the trees for touch, sound & smell (especially the blind).
  4. Create a map survey of the woodland, flora & fauna (there are badgers, grey squirrels, foxes, herons in the ‘wet’ end, buzzards, etc).

5. Design a tree planting plan for replacement trees.

6. Drain 3 x wet spots to enter a small stream instead of just lying waterlogged areas. 

7. Create an interactive trail for schoolchildren and Forest Schools and to allow supervised access to the woodland, the Tower, the indoor classroom and outdoor classroom in the wood.

8. Evaluate for introduction of a small Apiary and re-introduction of red squirrels.


Sampson Tower inspection video




Spring 2018-19