The 2017 edition of the Gran Fondo cycle event will take place on Sunday 4 June. This is a closed roads, mass participation cycle event and will be travelling from Spelga Dam to Bryansford on the Hilltown Road past the exit gates of Tollymore Forest Park. This road will be closed to motorised traffic from 9:15am to 12:00pm. Visitors are to both enter and exit the park via the Bryansford Road gates during this time.
Squirrel pox outbreak
Squirrel pox, a disease fatal to red squirrels, has been confirmed in Tollymore Forest Park.
There are outbreaks of both Japanese Larch disease (P. ramorum) and Phytophthora lateralis (P. lateralis) in Tollymore Forest Park.
The outbreak of Japanese Larch disease is in the Moneyscalp Wood area of Tollymore Forest and the outbreak of Phytophthora lateralis is in other areas.
Visitors are asked to pay attention to any signage providing information on bio-security measures needed to help prevent the spread of these diseases. For more information, see the following page:
Tollymore Forest Park caters for many outdoor activities including walking, caravanning and camping, horse riding and orienteering. Other activities include sporting events or educational visits.
To arrange a special event or activity in this forest, contact the recreation manager at Castlewellan Forest Park.
Please pay attention to safety signage.
Caravanning and camping
Tollymore Forest Park is open all year and offers extensive facilities for caravanning or camping. 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.
Charges and bookings
For caravanning and camping charges, visit the following page.
For bookings, contact the forest ranger at Tollymore 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:
Horse riding trails managed by Forest Service are available in the park. For further information you can contact the Forest Office on 028 4372 2428 or Customer Services on 028 6634 3165.
Features of Tollymore Forest
Tollymore has an information kiosk in the upper car park, providing information on the forest and surrounding area.
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 many 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 stonemasonry. 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 and 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 of 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 around 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 (three 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 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 about two miles the forest park is signposted on the left.