Tollymore Forest Park
Covering an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne mountains, Tollymore Forest Park has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at Newcastle. It's open to the public all year.
Camping and touring online booking
You can camp in a tent at Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland or stay there in a caravan, motorhome, campervan, folding caravan or trailer tent. You can book online or check availability and costs via the following link:
Tollymore Forest Park offers outdoor activities like camping and touring, walking, 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.
An information point is in the lower car park, with a map of walking trails and other information about the forest. For your safety, pay attention to safety signage.
Camping and touring
Tollymore Forest Park is a popular place for visitors wishing to stay in the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It offers easy access on foot to the higher Mourne Mountains including Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh. The forest is linked to the wider County Down countryside via the Mourne Way, part of the Ulster Way, and offers a scenic walking route between Rostrevor and Newcastle.
Tollymore Forest Park is open all year round for camping and touring vehicles. Sometimes there may be short closures in winter during severe weather conditions, such as heavy snow or strong winds.
View the camping and touring charges:
All touring vehicle pitches on the main site are tarmac surfaced with electric hookup points. Most have nearby grassed areas suitable for awnings. There are separate male and female toilets, showers and washing facilities close by (with wheelchair access), fresh water, a dishwashing room and a chemical toilet disposal point. There's also on-site parking for residents.
Tents can be pitched on a grass surfaced camping area next to the main touring site. There are no electric hookups available on this site, but camping site residents have access to the same toilet and shower facilities as those staying on the main site.
A separate campsite is available for youth organisations. Contact Forest Service - Tollymore Forest Park to make a booking.
The town of Newcastle is about a five-minute drive from Tollymore. It has a good range of supermarkets, fresh food shops, retail outlets and several cafés and restaurants.
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 signposted 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. 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 goes 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 goes 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 trail adds a further three miles by going round 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.
Horse riding trails managed by Forest Service are available in the park. For further information visit:
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 built more than 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). They have 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 built 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.
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.
Squirrel pox outbreak
Squirrel pox, a disease fatal to red squirrels, has been confirmed in Tollymore Forest Park.