Minnowburn Path – Minnowburn is a green refuge set on the fringe of Belfast, in the Lagan Valley Regional Park. Wooden chainsaw sculptures are dotted around the trail, there is a pond full of wildlife, and Terrace Hill has spectacular views of the Lagan Valley, to Beech woodland and the Lagan river. As well as guessing what the sculptures are about, see what wildlife you can spot.
Giant’s Ring Path – A green oasis in the heart of the city of Belfast, Minnowburn is full of beautiful trails verging the Lagan or heading through woodland and farmland. It lies in the Lagan Valley Regional Park and is a great place to walk through fields alive with the sounds and smells of nature, or stroll along the banks of the Lagan and Minnowburn. You may spot spawning salmon or sea trout.
As you leave National Trust lands and enter Ballynahatty you pass through the famous Giants Ring, a Neolithic earthwork circle set in the middle of beautiful farmland.
Point of interest:Minnowburn Bridge, Giants Ring
OS map:Sheet 15
Terrain:Dirt, gravel & wooden boardwalk
Route:Giant’s Ring Trail is 3 miles long -
From the car park, follow the Lagan riverbank path upstream. After about 656 feet (200 metres), take the first path you come to on the left-hand side. Follow this path, cross the Edenderry Road and continue on with the mature woodland on your left. You'll enter young, broadleaved woodland. Carry on until you reach the Ballynahatty Road. Cross the road and take the path opposite. Follow the path which has fields on either side for about half a mile (1 kilometre), until you reach the Giant's Ring. After exploring the Ring, make your way out through the gate at the opposite side from which you arrived. Pass through the car park and carry on down the avenue until you reach the road. Cross the road, taking care to watch out for traffic, and climb over the stile opposite. You're now in the Sandpit Field, a marvellous natural amphitheatre that was carved by retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age.
Follow the track around the top of the big pit until you come to a stile beside a road. Climb over the stile and cross the road. Go through the pedestrian gate opposite, follow the path through a second gate and continue on the old tarmac path up Terrace Hill. This path used to be the main avenue to Terrace Hill house, in spring the bank on the left is filled with daffodils and bluebells. Carry on until you reach the garden. Once you've explored this magical place go back the way you came and take the path on the left, leading downhill through a young woodland. Follow the path until you reach the Minnowburn River; here you'll walk along the banks of the river downstream until you reach Minnowburn Bridge and the car park beyond.
Minnowburn Sculpture Trail is 1.5 miles long -
From the car park, follow the path from beside Minnowburn Bridge upstream, along the bank of the Minnowburn itself, with young broadleaved woodland on your right. After about 109 yards (100 metres), you'll come to a fork in the path with an engraved log sign. Take the left hand fork to the pond and around it, where you'll see the first of the sculptures. Once you've completed the loop around the pond, go back to the fork in the path and take the left fork uphill. The path passes through younger woodland and climbs uphill to Terrace Hill Garden, with great views of the Lagan Valley along the way. Find more sculptures and enjoy the surroundings of the 1930s walled garden.
From the garden, take the steps from the west end of the garden up into the trees towards Terrace Hill House and follow the short path to Freddy's steps. Descend the steps and halfway down, take the path to the right, through the beech woodland where you will find the last of the sculptures. At the end of the path, climb a couple of steps onto the Giant's Ring path. Turn right and follow this path to the Edenderry Road. Cross the road and take the path opposite down to the Lagan River. At the river, turn right and follow the river bank path with the carr (wet) woodland on your right, back to the car park.
Note: These walks cross agricultural land in parts. There are two fields in which you may encounter stock grazing. Always close gates behind you and please keep dogs under control.
Facilities:Toilet and refreshments nearby at Barnett’s Demesne or Forestside Shopping centre. Also free car parking, viewing point and canoe landing. Leaflets are available.
Accessible terrain:Off road paths, unsurfaced
Getting to the start by public transport:Ulsterbus 13D, 13H, 313 from Europa Buscentre - see link below.
Getting to the start by car:Minnowburn is just of the Ring Road next to Shaw’s bridge. Follow the signs.
Getting to the start on foot:Cycling: Access is available through Lagan Valley Regional Park and is part of the National Cycle Network (route 9).
Boat: Access to a canoe dock is available from the Lagan.