Ballynahone Nature Reserve

Nature reserves are chosen from among the very best examples of our wildlife, habitats and geology. They contain a wide range of species, communities and geology and their designation is a public recognition by Government of their importance.


Area: 98.13 hectares
Grid Reference: H 860980
Date Designated: 13/9/00


Ballynahone Bog is one of the most important lowland raised bogs in Northern Ireland  because of its size, diversity of vegetation and structural features, and the presence of rare and notable species. Although a series of shallow peat drains were excavated across the surface in the recent past, these have now been blocked, and the bog is recovering.

The intact surface of Ballynahone Bog represents one of the largest remaining areas of uncut lowland raised bog in Northern Ireland, and most of this is included within the NNR. The peat sequence holds information on the history of local vegetation and climate in the form of sediments, pollen, and volcanic glass shards (tephra).

Flat water-logged 'lawns' alongside pools are characterised by the prominence of such species as cross-leaved Heath, bog asphodel, white beak-sedge and common cottongrass, over a Sphagnum moss carpet dominated by the two main species of Sphagnun papillosum and Sphagnum magellanicum.

On the greater part of the bog plain the prominent species include heather, cross-leaved heath, hare's-tail, cottongrass, common cottongrass, and deergrass. Additional species which are also well represented within the make up of the grasses include bog asphodel, white beak-sedge, with occasional patches of bog-myrtle. Leucobryum glaucum and Sphagnum mosses generally form scattered hummocks throughout the area.

The bog also provides an important habitat for breeding birds such as curlew and snipe and wintering species including birds of prey such as hen harrier and merlin.

The invertebrate fauna is characteristic of lowland raised bogs in this region, and notably, Ballynahone Bog supports one of the largest known colonies of the large heath butterfly in Northern Ireland.

Access: Because of the sensitive nature of this protected site and safety/access issues due to the rough terrain, permission for access to this nature reserve must be given by the Ulster Wildlife Trust.

You can contact them at or Tel. 028 4483 0282.

Getting there

The reserve can be reached by taking the Ballynahone Road, which links the A6 and A29 south of Maghera. There are 3 access tracks into the bog along the road.

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