Tollymore Forest Park
Covering an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne mountains this forest park has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at Newcastle.
There is an outbreak of Japanese Larch disease (P. ramorum) in the Moneyscalp Wood area of Tollymore Forest. In addition, there is also an outbreak of Phytophthora lateralis (P. lateralis) in other areas of Tollymore Forest. Visitors are asked to observe any signage providing information on bio-security measures required to help prevent the spread of this disease. For more information, see 'Preventing the spread of tree disease'.
Tollymore Forest Park caters for many outdoor activities including walking, caravanning/camping, horse riding and orienteering. Such activities may also include sporting events or educational visits.
To arrange a special event or activity in this forest, you should contact the recreation manager, Forest Service NI at Castlewellan Forest Park.
Please adhere to safety signage which will be posted for your safety.
Caravanning and camping
Tollymore Forest Park is open all year and offers extensive facilities for the caravan or camping enthusiast. There are toilets and showers, some of which are wheelchair accessible; a fresh water supply; chemical toilet disposal point and electricity hook ups for caravans.
A separate campsite is available for youth organisations.
Caravanning and camping charges
For caravanning and camping charges at Tollymore, see 'Forest recreation charges'.
To book, contact:The Forest Ranger
Tollymore Forest Park
- telephone: +44 28 4372 2428
Features of Tollymore Forest
Tollymore has an "in-touch" information kiosk in the upper car park. The kiosk has information on the forest and surrounding area including useful tourist information.
The Shimna River
This river flows along its rocky bed through the centre of the park, from the Mournes to the sea at Newcastle. The tree shaded river with its numerous deep pools is home to a variety of birds and mammals such as dippers, kingfishers and otters.
The Stone Bridges
These ornate bridges some of which were constructed over 200 years ago by various owners of the estate are fine examples of stonemasonary. Several were built in honour, or in remembrance of relatives and friends.
The Cedar Avenue
Planted inside the Barbican Gate entrance you can find magnificent Himalayan cedars (cedrus deodara) with wide spreading branches and blue/green foliage, forming an imposing and picturesque entrance to the Forest Park.
This is a mass of stones carefully put together to form a room about 12 feet by eight feet, with an opening to the river path at each end.
There are two larger openings which look down on the river below. At one time in the room there was a stone seat, a bust, and an inscription on the back wall. They were put there by James Hamilton, second Earl of Clanbrassil, as a memorial to his friend, the Marquis of Monthermer, who died in 1770. The bust and stone seat have since disappeared. The inscription, in Greek, reads: "Clanbrassil, to his very dear friend Monthermer 1770".
Clanbrassil Barn was constructed about 1757 at the same time as the old parts of the mansion house. The building was used as stables and stores until the end of 1971.
The ground floor has been converted to provide an education room and toilets. The steeple at the eastern end has a fine old clock and sundial. The bell which strikes the hour bears the inscription "C : & : I Rudhall Glocester Fect 1785". The bell was tolled in the past to mark the beginning and ending of the working day, and any event of family or national importance. The sundial on the southern face of the tower can be read easily in suitable weather.
Four waymarked trails of varying lengths take the visitor on a tour of the park's most beautiful areas. These trails follow a circular route and are sign posted from the information board in the main car park. Strong footwear is recommended. The Mourne Way/Ulster Way crosses through the forest.
Blue Trail - Arboretum Path (half a mile)
Tollymore arboretum is the one of the oldest known arboreta in Ireland. Planting began in 1752 as a Georgian landscape feature and this path meanders past various species of trees from around the world, including the remnants of a lightning struck Giant Redwood and a thickly barked cork tree.
Red Trail - Rivers Trail (3 miles)
Down the Azalea Walk towards the Shimna river to the Hermitage this trail passes through both coniferous and broadleaved woodland, before crossing the Shimna at Parnell’s bridge. Dramatic views of the Pot of Legawherry can be seen from the trail.
There is an optional spur to the White Fort Cashel before following the Spinkwee River downstream, past the cascades and back to the Meeting of the Waters. The trail proceeds through coniferous plantations, past the duck pond and re-crosses the Shimna River over the Old Bridge, returning to the car park via the Green Rig.
Black Trail - Mountain Trail (five and a half miles)
Passing through the Forest Plots this trail enters a beech woodland, which in the spring is covered in bluebells. The route runs parallel with the Shimna River before crossing it over Parnell's Bridge. The trail continues along one of the Shimna’s tributaries through mature conifer forest.
Good views of Luke’s Mountain can be had as the trail reaches the boundary wall before zigzagging back toward the Spinkwee River, crossing at the Hore’s bridge. The second half of the trail passes through coniferous plantations at various stages of maturity before reaching the second crossing point of the Shimna River at the Ivy Bridge.
The return route to the car park proceeds along the old river drive passing Foley’s bridge and the dramatic Shimna Gorge before returning up the Green Rig.
Black Trail 1 - The Drinns Trail (three miles)
This additional Black trail adds a further three miles by circumnavigating the Drinns running along the boundary wall and past coniferous forest to the Curraghard viewpoint. Stunning views of Bryansford, Castlewellan and Slieve Croob are seen on the return route to the second half of the Mountain Trail.
How to get there
From Belfast, take the A24 south to Clough Village, then join the A2 Newcastle Road. Just past Dundrum, the forest park is signposted to the right.
From Newcastle follow the signposted route from the Central Promenade towards Bryansford Village. After approximately two miles the forest park is signposted on the left.