Horse riding trails open in Castlewellan Forest Park on 8 May. Further information can be found below. Horse riding trails are also available in Tollymore Forest Park.
Several trees have been reported as coming down on the mountain bike trails in the forest due to storm Doris. These are currently being cleared by trail rangers, but please exercise caution over the next few days.
About the forest
The extensive area of woodland in this forest park is managed as a commercial forest together with other plantations in the area.
The variety of tree species is one of the most attractive features of the woodlands at Castlewellan.
There is an outbreak of the larch tree disease, Phytophthora ramorum. About 100 hectares of affected trees will be removed to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Much of the necessary tree felling has been completed and the forest remains open to the public. There is some restricted access to certain areas and paths within the forest to allow for safe access by timber haulage lorries. Visitors must pay attention to all health and safety signs and other signs displayed in the forest.
Before visiting, you should be familiar with biosecurity guidelines which help prevent spreading this disease. Find out more at the following nidirect page.
Castlewellan Forest Park caters for many outdoor activities including walking, cycling, caravanning and camping and orienteering.
Special events can be arranged by permit. Guided walks are also available on application. Such activities may include sporting events or educational visits. To arrange a special event or activity, contact the recreation manager at Castlewellan Forest Park.
Essential tree harvesting works are currently being carried out at Castlewellan Forest Park, clearing areas affected by previous storms. For safety reasons, the horse trekking trail has been closed and it is anticipated that harvesting operations will continue until the end of the summer. An alternative horse trekking trail is available at Tollymore Forest Park.
Since 2013 there has been a major increase in the use of Castlewellan Forest Park for walking and cycling activities following new trail developments in partnership with Newry Mourne & Down District Council. As the harvesting operation progresses the intention is to work with the Council on the most suitable range of activities to be provided at Castlewellan Forest Park.
Camping and caravanning
The main stay site offers extensive facilities on tarmac and grass pitches for caravanning or camping. There are toilets and showers (some of which are wheelchair accessible), fresh water, a chemical toilet disposal point and electricity hook-up for caravans.
Charges and bookings
For caravanning and camping charges, visit the following page:
For bookings, contact the forest ranger at Castlewellan Forest Park.
Before you make a booking, understand the camping and caravanning terms and conditions as they set out the agreement between you and Forest Service to use their services. To view the terms, follow the link below:
From the 8 May 2017, newly way-marked horse riding trails will be open within Castlewellan Forest Park under the management of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Once the trails open there will be no charge for individual users; however, vehicle access charges will apply for the Forest Park. For those wishing to organise horse riding events or coaching and guiding within the forest, please contact the Forest Trails Ranger:
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 077 1809 8029
Horse riding trails managed by Forest Service are also available in Tollymore Forest Park.
There are a number of scenic trails in Castlewellan Forest Park.
Lake Path and Leisure Cycling Route
(Blue trail - two and a half miles)
This path follows the shore of Castlewellan Lake providing good views of Slievenaslaat and Castlewellan Castle. Points of interest along this path are the Ice House, various sculpted features and the Autumn Wood. The Leisure Cycling Route follows this path.
Cypress Pond Trail
(Red trail - three and three quarter miles)
The first part of the trail follows the former stagecoach route, known locally as the Crow Road, where striking views of the northern Mourne Mountains can be glimpsed before reaching Castlewellan Lake.
There are delightful lake views heading to the Cypress Pond and the National Arboretum where a visit to the Annesley Garden is worthwhile. The return route to the car park offers expansive views of the lake, castle and the historic open parkland.
(Black trail - five miles)
Leading off the blue path, the black trail enters the mainly coniferous plantation where remnants of the Moorish Tower can be viewed. There are openings in the forest with impressive views of the farmland on and around Slievenaboley, Legananny Mountains and Slieve Croob.
Further east there are vistas where the lake can be viewed as the trail reaches its highest point by Slievenaslaat and the Mountain Lake. The return trail passes by the Winter and Annesley Gardens, open parkland, the lake and castle.
Parts of these trails are used for horse riding.
Shorter informal walks are possible around the garden area of the park.
Castlewellan Arboretum and Annesley Garden
The walled Annesley Garden, dating from 1740, provides a central focal point for the National Arboretum. This magnificent collection of trees and shrubs, set in beautiful surroundings, also incorporates fountains, ponds, ornamental greenhouses and broad sweeping vistas.
In terms of size, age and condition of the trees, this collection ranks among the top three arboretum the British Isles and the finest in Ireland. It includes:
- 20 oldest existing specimens in the British Isles
- 42 ‘champion’ trees of the British Isles
- 50 ‘champion’ trees of Ireland
Access is via Castlewellan Forest Park (forest recreation charges) and it is open every day from 10.00am to sunset.
How to get there
From Castlewellan, the forest park is signposted from Main Street.