Gosford Forest Park

Gosford Forest Park has 240 hectares of mixed woodland and open parkland.

Improved facilities

Gosford Forest Park's visitor facilities are in the process of being improved. This will mean better walking, cycling and horse riding trails. New forest signage and map displays will also give you a better understanding of the forest and facilities available.

Works are ongoing and therefore some areas of the forest may have restricted access as work progresses. Visitors are asked to follow all health and safety notices and signs.

Activities

To arrange a special event or activity in this forest, such as sporting events or educational visits, contact the recreation manager at Gosford Forest Park.

Occasionally there may be restricted access to parts of the forest during work or other forest operations. Pay attention to safety signage.

Children's play park

A children's play area has been completed and is now open to the public. Normal entrance fees apply.

Caravanning and camping

The main stay site offers extensive facilities for caravanning and camping. There are modern toilets and showers, together with a fresh water supply, chemical toilet disposal point and electricity hook-up for caravans.

Caravanning and camping charges

For details of the charges, visit the following page:

Bookings

To book, contact the forest ranger at Gosford 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:  

Trails

Blue: Castle path (one mile)

This path takes visitors through the arboretum (a botanical garden devoted to trees) and past the Walled Garden before reaching the boundary of the now privately owned Gosford Castle. From here the path makes its way through oak and Norway spruce plantations, which are managed as commercial woodland, before returning to the car park and children’s play area. 

Red: Greer’s trail (two-and-a-half miles)

Dean Swift’s Well and Chair can be viewed from the trail alongside the Drumlack River, before reaching the Millpond. The trail then enters the beech woodland on Draper’s Hill and skirts around the boundary of Gosford Castle leading into mature coniferous forest plantations made up mainly of Norway spruce.

On the return to the car park, visitors can see the grassy mound of Greer’s Fort, named after a farming family who arrived in the area during the 1600s. 

Red 1: Crunaght trail (four miles)

This trail branches south from Greer’s Trail through Norway spruce and mixed broadleaf woodland, before crossing the southern part of Drumlack River. After the second river crossing point, the trail enters the middle of open parkland through the deer enclosure and then returns towards the car park.

Cycling trail (four miles)

Suitable for cyclists of all ages, this leisure trail provides a safe and enjoyable route with lots of fascinating features along the way.

Starting and finishing in the main car park, this trail leads cyclists on a leisurely route towards the Millponds, crossing over the Drumlack River and then through the old Gate House archway.

Turning right the trail follows the boundary of the arboretum before heading into the forest. Gravel surface forest roads and narrow tracks are key features of this section of the trail. The woodland cover opens into parkland as the trail returns to the car park via the red deer enclosure.

The trail is mostly level with some very slight inclines in places. Novice cyclists should expect to complete the trail in about an hour, not including stops along the way.

Note that forest roads may be in use for forestry traffic, including HGV timber trucks.  Horses are also allowed to use some sections and you may come across pedestrians anywhere. 

Ecotrail

To download the Gosford ecotrail activity book, guides, maps, control card and tree identification chart, visit the following page:

Ecotrails are linked to the sport of orienteering. They give people an opportunity to develop a knowledge and understanding of, and responsibility to, the local natural and built environment by using the 'outdoor classroom' of the countryside. 

Features of Gosford Forest Park

In 1958 Forest Service acquired Gosford Demesne from the Earl of Gosford, whose family was descended from the Acheson family.  It was the Acheson’s who first established woodland, parkland and several buildings on the demesne more than 300 years earlier.

Gosford Forest Park has several miles of paths and trails provided for visitors to see these historical features, along with a mixture of conifer and broadleaf woodland with its diverse range of flora and fauna.

Gosford Arboretum

Gosford Arboretum has a wide variety of conifer and broadleaf tree species from around the world, many of which are over 150 years old.  Some of the original features are still there, such as the old Ha-Ha ditch built more than two centuries ago to keep wild deer away from the castle gardens. 

At the northern end of the arboretum beside the old walled garden, a walkway has been planted with flowering shrubs and plants and has a sundial as its focal point.  

Millponds and Gatehouse

Before electricity became widely available other energy sources were used to provide power. The water wheel, visible on the grassed area beside the car park, was once used to power a corn mill for grinding grain.

To make sure a steady supply of water was always available two large millponds were created, with a connecting channel (known as a mill race) leading to the water wheel. Although no longer in use as millponds they offer an ideal environment for flora and fauna that thrive in a water habitat. 

The entrance leading to Clonkearney (or Cloncarney) Manor, the original home of the Earls of Gosford, is located between the two millponds. During the Irish Rebellion of 1641 the manor house was destroyed by fire, although a replacement was built and remained inhabited for another 200 years.  The old stone arch is still standing here today, with one gatehouse on each side and these would have provided a home for two families.

How to get there

From Armagh, follow the A28 Newry Road to Markethill. The entrance to the forest is signposted along this road.

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