The largest woodland in the Larne Coast Landscape Character area is in Carnfunnock i.e. lowland woodland pasture and parkland.
Like most landed estates Carnfunnock offered prestige to its wealthy owners (see history section for full details.)
Over the years this land has been farmed, developed and changed in keeping with the ideals of landscape beauty and fashion of the time, resulting in mature tree lined avenues and woodlands. The parks limestone soil made it suitable for trees such as beech, ash and lime whilst species such as sycamore and scots/austrian pine were planted to provide shelter from the strong coastal winds.
The wooded areas in Carnfunnock can be divided into several parts.
A. The park around former Cairncastle Lodge (located where Larne Lions Club Holiday Home now stands)
This has avenues and edge planting of mature trees - principally beech, elm, ash, austrian pine and sycamore but also has a wide range of other trees including oaks (common, sessile and turkey), larch and lime. To the west, woodland is more substantial with beech, oak and elm and there is an understorey with more diverse herb and ground layers. This woodland extends northwards into the the townland of Ballygally where it becomes open wood with ash standards dominant (upland mixed ashwoods). There is also some hawthorn, sycamore and elder. The open areas have considerable scrubby gorse and bramble and the woodland ground layer is composed mainly of grasses and some primrose.
B. Cairndhu House (the old Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Hospital). This is now private property.
This part of the former demesne has a great diversity of trees; additional tree species include Monterey cypress and Wellingtonia. However, fringing woodlands are more neglected and becoming invaded by ash and sycamore. The northern part of the former demesne is now part of Cairndhu golf course in which there are several small plantations of sycamore, willow and birch.
As the park's trees continue to age there is an ongoing commitment to replant and you will also find many young species of trees spread throughout the Park.
For more details on our most common trees download our tree spotting guide below.