Forest Parks and Country Parks
Stroll through uncrowded forests and woodlands full of wildlife, unusual trees and exotic shrubs, where you may spot a herd of docile deer, a lake, or a country fair.
For further details on Northern Ireland's forests and woods, visit the Forest Service website at www.nidirect.gov.uk/forests
For a walk on the wilder side, visit Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest Park both in the shadows of the Mourne Mountains, County Down. Castlewellan covers 460 hectares of natural beauty enhanced by diverse woodland and a variety of attractive man made features, all of which are accessible to the visitor on foot.
Tollymore Forest Park takes in an area of almost 630 hectares and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at Newcastle. A walk along the Shimna River is marked by many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves.
Crawfordsburn Country Park, County Down just outside Belfast has fabulous views across Belfast Lough. It hosts a golden beach that attracts thousands of bathers and sun worshippers throughout the summer. Take a walk up through the woodland and under a gigantic five arch railway viaduct to the beautiful waterfall. Among the trees and shrubs bordering the path are Alaskan Salmonberry plants, exotic relations of the raspberry. Their profusion of juicy orange berries in June are not only edible, but delicious!
For a look at Belfast Lough from a more panoramic angle, head to Cave Hill Country Park. There are many possibilities for walking on Cave Hill, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. There are five caves on the hill to be explored and MacArt's Fort. There are a number of sites of archaeological interest on the Hill, dating back to the Stone Age. These include several ringforts and a lake dwelling at Hazelwood.