City walks

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Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze

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Contact details


East District Forest Office The Grange, Castlewellan, County Down,
Mr Mark Parker
T: (028) 4377 8664

Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea.

Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, this is one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world. However, Castlewellan has numerous features that draw wider attention. The garden is a mixture of informal and formal design with terraces, fountains, ornamental gates and flower borders. To walk around the forest park's mile-long lake, encountering some intriguing modern sculptures on the way, is to enjoy a great experience of eighteenth-century landscaping.

The planting of the walled Annesley garden, the focus of the arboretum, was begun in the 1850s and rare conifers and maples were later imported directly from Japan. Then came the addition of more rich varieties, including Chilean eucryphias, Australian athrotaxis and pittosporum and Chinese rhododendrons. The arboretum holds many trees with record heights in the British Isles.

One of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails, 27km of Mountain Bike Trails, Nature Play perfect for the kids, an onsite multi-activity centre, hedge maze and equestrian centre, Castlewellan Forest Park boasts all of this and more making it a must-visit for all ages.

Play Structure
Perfect for the kids, a brand new play structure has recently been installed in the forest park. ‘Animal Wood’ is designed for four to eleven year olds and is located beside the Peace Maze. Featuring a short path, Animal Wood provides lots of opportunities for playing on wild woodland animals including a badger and its den, a red squirrel and a giant spider. In addition it boasts a wooden play structure with a tower in the image of The Moorish Tower where children can enjoy the climbing wall, fireman’s pole and rope-bridge over to a hollow tree stump slide and Red Kite nest that are sure to keep the kids entertained! Check out our blog 'Kids Go Wild for Nature Play' for one families first hand account of the play area.

Peaze Mace
Beside ‘Animal Wood’ you’ll find the Peace Maze, one of the world's largest permanent hedge mazes representing the path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. Planted in 2000 with community involvement, visitors can attempt to solve their way to the peace bell in the centre of the maze.

Access available for people with limited mobility on scooter. Manual wheelchairs - the total distance including the Peace Maze and Gardens is around 6 miles and would recommend a challenge to any pushers at any one visit.

Walking Trails
Slievenaslat Walk 2.7 miles
Moorish Tower Walk 3.2. miles
Lakeside Walk 2.4 miles
Annesley Garden Walk 2.2 miles
Cypress Pond Walk 3.1 miles
Bunkers Hill Walk & Play Trail 1.2 miles