Slieve Gullion is Ireland's Mountain of Mystery. The Forest Park offers walking trails, a scenic drive, an Adventure Playpark, Giant's Lair children's story trail and Courtyard with coffee shop.
Rising some 576m above the surrounding countryside, the broad slopes of Slieve Gullion dominate the landscape of south Armagh. The mountain itself lies at the centre of a pronounced ring of hills – the Ring of Gullion.
Whether you choose to experience it at a hi-octane pace, embark on a peaceful nature retreat, summit Slieve Gullion – Armaghs’s highest peak – or follow tailor made itineraries as a guide, the Ring of Gullion region offers a host of activities and attractions for families, couples, groups of friends and visitors of any age, who want to get away from it all, explore unspoilt landscapes and enjoy a real sense of well-being.
The area has some of the best biodiversity in the region and has a multitude of protected areas and visitors have the chance to see wildlife on the Red Squirrel Safari.
A 10km drive around the slopes of Slieve Gullion offers visitors spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. And a leisurely walk around the walled garden is a must, as is a 2km walk through the mostly broadleaf mature woodland of Hawthorn Hill.
There is a mountain top trail to two cairns (North, bronze age; and South Neolithic) and the Lake of Sorrows, with stunning views across the Ring of Gullion, Mourne and Cooley mountain ranges and Armagh Drumlins, with over 2,000 years of legend and history awaiting. Cuchulainn, the Red Branch, Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) and other heroes have trodden the slopes of this Mountain of Mystery.
The Slieve Gullion Courtyard, set in the midst of the park, is home to a Visitor Information Office, and the extremely popular Grounded café where you can enjoy delicious treats, as well as the wildlife pond – an essential stop off after a busy morning walking or exploring the Adventure Playpark or Giant'sLair. The Courtyard has toilet facilities.
Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark
The perfect start to any family trip to the Forest Park begins with a stop off at our action-packed Adventure Playpark, which is guaranteed to keep kids of all ages delighted and thoroughly entertained. It includes a specially designed toddler’s area, adventure and play equipment for the older kids, the “Slieve Gullion ZIP” and even a trim trail for the adults. Burn off some energy on the slides, climbing frames and outdoor gym equipment, make a wish on the wishing chair and find your way out of the maze. The Playpark has attained the ‘Green Apple Environment Award’ and Best Tourism Partner Initiative at the 2013 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.
The Giant’s Lair – Children’s Story Trail
The most ambitious children’s arts project commissioned in Northern Ireland, the brand new Giant’s Lair at Slieve Gullion is open to boys, girls, elves and fairies alike. A must-see landmark cultural attraction, The Giant’s Lair is an innovative magical living storybook. The Giant’s Lair Story Trail takes visitors on an unforgettable journey of intertwined fairy house and arts features creating a fantastical childhood land of mystery, dragons, giants, witches and fairies. The art in the Giant’s Lair is all inspired by the rich tapestry of local legend and mythical folklore on over a mile of woodlands within the Forest Park.
Follow in the footsteps of Flynn the mischievous fairy, who has one important job – not to allow anyone to wake Slieve Gullion; It might look like a mountain but it’s really a sleeping giant! Drop in for a cup of dandelion tea, grab a seat at the Giant’s Table, stroll along to the Ladybird House and sneak a peek at local witchy trickster, The Cailleach Beara. The Giant’s Lair is, without a doubt, the premiere outdoor attraction for children from far and wide, capturing a genuine sense of enchantment and mystery in the beautiful setting of Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
The Giant's Lair is situated beside the Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark. It is free to walk round and explore, but there are optional guided tours from Fairy Bluebelle Blossom available though Sticky Fingers – contact them on (028) 3025 7885 to book. The trail takes you into plenty of nooks and crannies so a backpack carrier or baby sling is recommended for tots.
The on-site car park can accommodate 120 cars (8 disabled parking bays), and has space for four 50 seater buses.
What are you waiting for, come enjoy and experience an ancient landscape.
NB. This map is based on the postcode and so may not reflect the exact location.
Opening times:Slieve Gullion Forest Park is open daily from 08:00 until sunset.
Adventure Playpark and Giant’s Lair:
1st April to the last weekend in October – 8am until 9pm
Last weekend in October to 31st March – 8am until 4pm
Prices:Slieve Gullion Forest Park is free to enter.