Reserve Fact File: Cooildarry in Spring

Tuesday 11th April 2017

Cooildarry nature reserve

Learn about this wonderful woodland nature reserve and explore with our Spotter sheet

Nine of our twenty-four reserves are open to the public and we encourage locals and visitors alike to visit them and enjoy their tranquillity and cherish the sights and sounds found on them. This column hopes to encourage you to visit some of these areas and use the Spotters Guide to explore them. So, if part of your New Year’s resolution was to make your life a little wilder than why not take up this monthly challenge?

Cooildarry Nature Reserve 


Cooildarry is situated just outside Kirk Michael, opposite Glen Wyllin, map reference SC314901, Lat and Long: 54⁰16’44.72N and 4⁰35’25.18 W.


Access to the site is best by parking in the layby at the top of the lane leading down to the Glen Wyllin campsite. You will need to cross the A4 coast road to Peel, please take care here. Locate the path to the right of the single-track road opposite the campsite road, this is the start of the reserve.
Walk along this path to the end and across the green lane you will see the gateway to the main part of the reserve opposite you and an information board. Please keep your dog on a lead and stick to the well established paths throughout the reserve.

Exploring Time

It takes about 10 minutes to walk along this path to the main part of the reserve. Plan to spend about 1 ½ hours in the reserve. There are some steep steps in the reserve so it is unsuitable for very young children or less mobile people, we suggest that families take the first bridge over the stream and take the right fork in the path, continue along this path until you get to steps leading up a steep knoll at this point you can retrace your steps in order to avoid the steep steps. 


Please note that the ponds are currently being managed to control the spread of the highly invasive species, New Zealand pygmy weed. MWT has covered the ponds in a thick black plastic which will prevent light reaching the plant. Unable to photosynthesise, the pygmy weed will hopefully die. The plastic will remain in place for several months. Please keep children and pets away from the ponds.

About the Reserve

The reserve was donated to the Trust in the 1970’s and is about 18 acres in size. This site is a steep sided valley with woodland and a stream flowing through it  (top picture) and it really is a reserve to visit in all seasons. In autumn there is a beautiful array of leaf colours with a wide variety of fungi. The trees to be found here are mainly elm, ash, alder, sycamore and beech, but you may also find oak, silver birch and lime. Indeed the name Cooildarry in Manx means oak (Darragh) and nook (Cooil) so it has been a woodland for some time.

Things to See

In spring, the woodland floor is covered in wild garlic, primroses, wood anemones, wood sorrel, lesser celandine and bluebells. It is also an excellent site to listen to bird songs with sparrow hawks and kestrels being spotted flying high above the trees.

In summer the attention turns to the valley floor itself, being boggy in places it supports the vibrant yellow flag, tiny opposite leaved golden saxifrage and the delicately cut leaves of hemlock water dropwort. Among the greenery are several kinds of ferns, mosses and horsetails so be sure to stop and take a good look.

If you are interested in geology, the stream cuts through and uncovers the Manx slates here. Situated just above the bridge across the stream are the remains of a Fuller’s Earth Works mill, a railway powered by a water wheel here dragged the wet fullers earth up to the mill. It was then kiln dried and sieved, the resulting product was used to clean sheep fleeces and in artillery shells.

Species Spotter Challenge

Take along our Spotter Sheet, all these things can be readily seen from the paths with keen eyes!, Why not make it a family day out and afterwards walk down through the campsite to visit Glen Wyllin beach? Share your adventure with us on our Facebook page or Twitter.

To read more about Cooildarry nature reserve and find a map, visit our reserves page.


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Cooildarry Spotter Sheet - Spring782.13 KB

Tagged with: Cooildarry, Education, Nature reserves, Reserves