Ballypatrick Forest is on the main A2 road, which is a popular tourist route along the Antrim Coast, leading through the Glens of Antrim and past the Giant’s Causeway.
Activities and services
Ballypatrick Forest includes off-road car parking, picnic areas and a way-marked walking trail. There is also a Touring in the Trees caravan site next to the car park.
An extensive gravel surfaced road network offers access to most areas of the forest. Although visitors are welcome to access forest roads on foot and bicycle it is worth noting that these have no way-marking and surface conditions can vary greatly.
Visitors should also be aware they may meet forestry traffic at any time, including large timber haulage vehicles. Take note of safety advice on outdoor signage.
About this forest
This forest is near the intriguing Vanishing Lake, Loughareema. Visitors on foot or bicycle using the roads inside the forest are rewarded with a constantly changing series of woodland vistas and distant views through this extensive upland forest.
The woodland at the entrance is the oldest in the forest and was planted in 1948. Filtered views, through these older trees, reveal the upland sheep pastures around the headwaters of the Carey River. Visitors with dogs must keep their pets under proper control in the forest and especially so when walking near to sheep grazing areas.
Unique Irish Ford
Pedestrians and cyclists following the forest road past the car park will travel alongside the tributary Corratavey Burn in an upstream direction, to arrive at the unique Irish Ford. Through the archway is a picnic area with bench seating.
Continuing uphill, the vegetation in the open areas among the woodland is mainly heather. Openings have been deliberately created in the conifer woodland to make it possible to plant more broadleaf trees which benefit from the shelter produced by the hardier spruce trees.
Views of Causeway Coast
The forest road then reaches its highest level with a number of stopping off points, some with picnic benches where visitors can linger and enjoy the view towards the Causeway Coast. In this part of Ballypatrick Forest it is quite common to catch glimpses of wild deer as they roam through the woodland and surrounding areas.
'Double Horned Cairn'
Descending from the higher level, the forest road passes near the site of a 'Double Horned Cairn'. This interesting archaeological site is a form of grave dating back to 2,000 BC, containing two burial chambers. The common form of this structure found more often in Northern Ireland consists of only one burial chamber.
Views of Knocklayd Mountain
The forest road continues downhill to enter Glenmakeeran with its associated stream which eventually flows into the Carey River. Visitors reaching this point have clear views of Knocklayd Mountain. The woodland in this area is mainly made up of broadleaved trees, including a flourishing eucalyptus which is a native of Australia.
As the forest road turns towards Ballycastle it passes an extensive area of open bog land which is still used for cutting turf to heat many local farm houses in winter. Visitors who reach this point will now have arrived back at the main A2 road about a quarter of a mile from the forest car park.
Ballypatrick Forest is open daily, unless there is a need for occasional restrictions on access due to forestry operations.
How to get there
The vehicle entrance into car park, picnic site and Touring in the Trees caravan site is signposted from the A2 road, midway between Ballycastle and Cushendall. Ulsterbus services to and from Ballycastle will stop here if you ask them to stop.
For details about public bus services visit the Translink website.