Drumkeeragh Forest is seven miles south west of Ballynahinch on the lower slopes of Slieve Croob. The forest has mixed coniferous trees. From the forest there are extensive views across County Down.
About this forest
Drumkeeragh Forest is a commercial coniferous woodland covering 200 hectares with an elevation which rises from 190 metres to 310 metres.
Occasionally there may be restricted access to parts of the forests during work or other forest operations so pay attention to safety signage.
A small car park for visitors is off the Drumnaquoile Road. An extensive forest road system allows walkers to access most of the forest.
All roads within the forest have rough gravel surfaces and strong footwear is recommended. There are good views of the surrounding countryside, with glimpses of Strangford Lough and Scrabo Tower visible between the low rounded hills. Looking towards the north west, a broad panorama stretches from Slieve Croob on the left to the Antrim Hills on the right. The view in the centre is across small hill farms, beyond which the Sperrin Mountains may be seen on a clear day.
Within the forest sitka spruce is the main tree species with Norway spruce, European larch, western red cedar, douglas and noble fir, Scots, Corsican and lodgepole pines also present. These species were planted for timber harvests over a rotation of about 50 years.
The land is not suitable for growing broadleaved timber trees because of its high elevation and the poor quality soil.
Drumkeeragh Forest is now entering its second rotation and a programme of felling and replanting has been undertaken in recent years.
Due to sustainable woodland management in this ‘new’ forest, landscaping and wildlife conservation get greater emphasis and some native broadleaves, including silver birch and mountain ash, have been planted.
A greater diversity of bird species is also found within the forest as these second rotation crops develop and mature.
How to get there
From Ballynahinch, take the B7 to Dromara. From Dromara village continue on the B7 towards Rathfriland. Take the second road on the left outside the village onto the Castlewellan Road. Travel along this road for about three and a half miles to Drumkeeragh Forest car park.