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. Tollymore was the preferred material for the interiors of the White Star liners including the 'Titanic'.
Carnfunnock Country Park, County Antrim is a unique walled garden with panoramic views and meandering paths. There are a variety of garden environments, including a flower garden, butterfly garden, scented walkway, time garden, heather garden, rock garden and water garden. A wide collection of plants from all over the world can be found throughout the garden. Of particular interest is the unique collection of sundials. The park also has an amphitheatre and a hornbeam maze in the shape of Northern Ireland.
Drum Manor Forest Park, County Tyrone is the most centrally located Forest Park in the province, lying immediately south of the Sperrin Mountains and west of Lough Neagh. It includes a walled butterfly garden with 4 trails of varying lengths. There is an arboretum and splendid views across parkland down to twin artificial lakes. It has nearly 100 forest plots of both native and exotic tree species within the park area.
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.
For a complete list of Woodlands and Forest in Northern Ireland, please click here.