Self catering accommodation Newcastle County Down, Northern Ireland
Donard Forest
Tollymore Forest Park
Castlewellan Forest Park
Silent Valley

Kilbroney Forest Park

Murlough Bay

Cranfield Beach

Castlewellan Forest ParkCastlewellan Forest Park

The forest covers 460 hectares of natural beauty enhanced by diverse woodland and a variety of attractive man made features, all of which are accessible to the visitor on foot.

The land was leased from the Annesley family in 1967 and became a Forest Park in 1969.

The Maze at CastlewellanThe Peace Maze, the largest maze in the world, was officially opened by Mrs Brid Rodgers, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Wednesday 12th September 2001.

The forest is open every day of the year from 10:00am until sunset.

Main Features

A Mile Long Lake, ringed by hills clothed in broadleaved and coniferous woodland and open areas of mature parkland. The lake is stocked with trout and day fishing permits are available from the Ranger. Canoeing is also permitted on application to the Ranger.

Arboretum at CastlewellanThe Annesley Garden and Arboretum which comprises a series of attractive and distinctive features of which the walled garden provides a magnificant focal point.

A castle, built in the Scottish baronial style, constructed from Ballymagreehan granite, sits at the base of the wooded slopes and overlooks the lake. The castle is now used as a conference centre.


The Grange Yard, a former farmstead, built around 1720 and consists of three courtyards in the Queen Anne style of architecture. The entrance to the first and best preserved yard is flanked by two Napoleonic eagles. The buildings house the Grange Coffee House and an exhibition area.

The Peace Maze, the world's largest maze was opened on 12th September 2001. You can follow it's progress at it's own website at www.peacemaze.com.

Admission Fees for 2002: Car £4.00 Motorbike £2.00 Minibus £10.00 Coach £25.00
Pedestrian Access: Adult £2.00 Child £0.50

Tollymore Forest ParkTollymore Forest Park

Tollymore was previously owned by Robert Jocelyn, 8th Earl of Roden and purchased by the Department of Agriculture in 1930 and 1941. In 1955 it became the first state forest in Northern Ireland to be designated as a Forest Park. Covering an area of almost 500 hectares at the foot of the Mourne mountains, the forest park offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at nearby Newcastle, while within its own boundaries are many splendid vistas of woodland and rivers.

Tollymore was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 British picnic sites for 2000.

Main Features

The Shimna River which 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 numerous deep pools is home to a variety of birds and mammals such as dippers, kingfishers and otters.

The Stone Bridges across the River Shimna. These ornate bridges some of which were constructed over 200 years ago by various owners of the estate are fine examples of the stonemasons craft. Several of them were built in honour or in rememberance of relatives and friends.

The Cedar Avenue planted inside the Barbican Gate entrance. These magnificent Himalayan cedars (Cedrus deodara) with their wide spreading branches and blue/green foliage form an imposing and picturesque entrance to the park.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hermitage is a mass of stones carefully put together to form a room about 12 feet by 8 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 there was a stone seat palced at the back of the room, and a bust, and an inscription on the backwall. They were put there by James Hamilton, second Earl of Clanbrassil, as a memorial to a friend, the Marquis of Monthermer, who died in 1770. the bust and stone seat have disappeared. The inscription, in Greek, reads: "Clanbrassil, to his very dear friend Monthermer 1770".

Clanbrassil Barn was constructed about 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 a small lecture theatre and toilet facilities while the upper floor has been developed as an interperative centre. 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.

Opening Hours: The Forest is open every day of the year from 10:00 am until sunset.

Admission Fees for 2002: Car £4.00 Motorbike £2.00 Minibus £10.00 Coach £25.00
Pedestrian Access: Adult £2.00 Child £0.50

Directions:From Belfast, take the A24 south to Clough Village, then join the A2 Newcastle Road. Before entering Newcastle on the A2, turn right at the roundabout on to the A50, signed Castlewellan. After approximately two miles turn left onto the B180 signed Tollymore Forest Park and follow signs to the park and caravan site.

Donard Forest lies at the foot of the Mournes and houses some of the most spectacular viewpoints in County Down taking in areas such as Newcastle and district, Dundrum Bay, St John's Point and to the north west Slieve Croob.

The area to the north east of the forest has been designated as a Heritage Stand. It was planted in 1927 and consists of Scots and Corsican pine, with herbaceous plants and woody shrubs hidden below the tree canopy. This area is the habitat for a variety of species of birds and uncommon butterflies.

The Glen River Bridge provides a picturesque viewpoint for the many cascades and waterfalls and was built by the Annesley family. Nearby are some of the remaining ornamental trees planted by the family, these include Monkey Puzzle and Giant Red Wood.

There are four way marked trails which follow a circular route returning to Donard Bridge with the exception of the Glen River Trail which travels up to the open mountain above the forest.

Kilbroney Forest ParkKilbroney Forest Park
There are few parklands in existence which could surpass the beauty of Kilbroney Park. Here mountain, stream, sea-lough and valley contribute to conjure up a scenic wonderland.

Acquired as public parkland by Newry & Mourne District Council in 1977, the 97 acres which form Kilbroney Park lie close to the shore of Carlingford Lough in the shadow of the forest-clad Slieve Martin.

As a backdrop to Kilbroney Park stands the impressive 4,000 acre Rostrevor Forest rising sharply from 30m to 500m above sea level. First planted out in 1931 mostly with coniferous species, the forest has numerous attractions including a breathtaking two mile forest drive providing panoramic views over Carlingford Lough, an old oak plantation dating from the 18th Century, the famous 40 tonnes "Cloughmore" or "Big Stone" and a host of animals ranging from grouse and irish jays to pine martens, red and grey squirrels, foxes and badgers.

"Cloughmore" or "Big Stone"The park offers a wide range of facilities and services, which include tennis courts, childrens play area, playing fields, an aboretum, barbeque and picnic areas and café.

Open spaces and pathways in Kilbroney Park allow relaxing strolls and links directly into the forest park where trails lead through oakwoods and planted slopes of sitka spruce, douglas, fir and pine.

The Cloughmore car park at the end of the forest drive, 230 metres above sea level provides views of the surrounding forest and is a good starting point for the three waymarked trails. The trails vary in length from 1.25 miles to 4.5 miles, and take the visitor to various areas within the forest to enjoy the many magnificent views and beauty of the woodlands.

A well serviced caravan and camping site caters for 52 touring vans and 30 tents and has full electrical hook-up facilities, water, TV links and a recently refurbished toilet and amenity block. Laundry services are available at the park's reception area.

Other park facilities include tennis courts, playing fields, a children’s play area and horse and trap rides throughout the summer months. A café/restaurant, with a viewing balcony is situated in the parks reception block.

Without doubt, the parks greatest asset is its beautiful parkland and open spaces which offer an unspoilt and relaxing recreational area for its many visitors.

How to get there

The village of Rostrevor is on the A2 and is mid-way between Newry and Kilkeel. Rostrevor is only a 20 minute drive from Newry and approximately one hour from Belfast.

The park is located on the edge of the village, with entrances at the Fairy Glen of Bridge Street and the main vehicular entrance being located off the Shore Road to Kilkeel.

For further information and camping & caravan reservations contact:

The Park Warden
Kilbroney Park
Rostrevor
Tel: 028 417 38134

Silent Valley

Silent Valley

The Silent Valley is a Mountain Park situated in the high Mournes and features a dam ringed by dramatic Mountain panoramas and the famous Mourne wall located in the U-shaped valley of the Kilkeel river.

Mountain Park

The 200 acre site below the reservoir is a combination of mountain, moorland and woodlands making it an ideal setting for flora and fauna to flourish in.

The Silent Valley nestles high amongst the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Park is surrounded with breathtaking countryside, to the east Craggy Binnian, to the west the Cliffs of Slievenag Lough, and to the north Doon and Ben Crom.

As this area is a major local asset to County Down, attention has been placed upon environmental planning and recreational issues. The water service has ensured that sustainable development has occurred in the area in order to safeguard the area for future generations.

Management has applied techniques such as limiting car access, providing shuttle busses and issuing byelaws which visitors are expected to comply with. Visitors are also expected to adhere to the Country Code, which support’s the Water Service in their attempts to protect this local asset.

Facilities

The Mountain Park has been developed to cater for recreational visitors to enable families to have a quiet day out.

The information centre and restaurant are housed in two old colonial style bungalows, the last remnants of the construction period. The information centre tells the story of the silent valley via the exhibition. The restaurant has impressive views over the mountain-park and is opened at 11.00am to 6.30pm each day each day in July and August and at weekends in June and September.

The seminar complex is fully equipped with up-to-date facilities, thus providing a distinct location for conferences. The complex is for hire all year around and can be booked via the Water Service’s administration department.

There is a shuttle bus service at the mountain park which frequently operates to/from Ben Crom to/from the car park, between 12.00 noon and 5.45pm. This service is available at weekends during May, June and September and daily in July and August.

A return ticket costs £1.20 return and £0.90 single.

Admission Charges

Car £3.00
Minibus £6.00
Coach £20.00
Motorcycle £1.50
Pedestrian – Adult £1.50
Pedestrian – Child £0.50
Annual Permit – Car £20.00
Annual Permit – School Bus £50.00

Background information

At the turn of the 19th century water supplies in Belfast were low, this was due to Belfast’s growing population and sudden industrialisation. To relieve this growing problem two upland water catchments were developed, however these catchments were unable to sustain water supplies for the area.

So with commendable foresight, the commissioners decided to carry out investigations with the aim of discovering, "a new sustainable area from which a plentiful supply of pure water might be obtained", to take them into the 20th century.

To find this source of water a distinguished local civil engineer, Mr Luke Livingstone McCassey was appointed. Five likely sites were surveyed in Down and Antrim. Following his investigations McCassey favoured the Mournes.

The Mournes were chosen primarily for their natural supply of pure water, which was a result of rainfall in the area. The area was also free from pollution and industry, which is of paramount importance when looking for a water source.

When the water commissioners identified the high Mournes as a suitable source for providing clean water, to an ever-expanding Belfast. Their plans included a wall to surround the 9000 acre, catchment area. The wall is now known as the Mourne Wall and it is said to be, "a monument to the skill of the men who built it".

The Mourne wall stands up to 8 feet high on average and it is 3 feet wide. The wall stretches for 22 miles and runs over the highest peaks in the Mournes. Work began in 1904 and finished in 1922 taking a total of 18 years to build.

The proposed area was capable of supplying 30 million gallons of water per day, as there wasn’t a need for so much water the scheme was divided into 3 stages.

The first stage was to divert the water from the Kilkeel and Annalong rivers through pipes to a new reservoir near carryduff. These two rivers would be able to supply 10 million gallons of water per day.

The second stage was to build a storage reservoir across the Kilkeel River. Then pipes were to be laid to supply another 10 million gallons of water per day.

The third stage was to build a second storage reservoir in Annalong to impound the Annalong River.

Cranfield Beach
Cranfield beach is set in an idyllic location at the mouth of Carlingford Lough, with the majestic Mourne Mountains as a dramatic backdrop.

The long, south facing beach offers excellent facilities for all visitors whether it be for a gentle stroll or for more strenuous water based activities and provides the perfect setting for the family with a wide expanse of sand and clean bathing water.

European blue flag beach
Cranfield has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag, which is given to beaches and marinas across Europe that meet strict criteria for both water quality and environmental management. It was introduced in 1987 and sets common standards of good management across Europe.

How to get there
Cranfield Beach is situated off the main A2 Rostrevor to Kilkeel Road. The nearest town (Kilkeel) is located approximately four miles from the beach. Access roads are clearly signposted. Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: Jonathan 268 105.


Murlough Bay
is an extraordinarily beautiful dune landscape, fringing on one of Northern Ireland’s most popular beaches and overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south.

A boardwalk, suitable for wheelchairs, leads from the National Trust car park through the dunes to the beach, a long arc of sand several miles long. An information centre and toilets are located in the car park and are open throughout the summer months, and nearby holiday cottages are available for rent throughout the year.

Murlough was declared Ireland’s first nature reserve in 1967 and has been cared for by the National Trust ever since, providing a haven for wildlife and rare habitats.It is a great place for of seal watching. Between 50 and 130 common and grey seals regularly use the area for moulting, resting and feeding. Their numbers reach their peak from July to October.

Ancient dunes
The dune system at Murlough has been calculated to be 6,000 years old. The landscape seen at Murlough today owes its appearance to millennia of natural processes, particularly coastal processes in the postglacial period. A particularly stormy period in the 13th and 14th centuries resulted in a huge movement of sand. Dune was formed upon dune resulting in the unusually high dunes we see today.

Archaeological remains
The site contains evidence of human habitation from Neolithic times, through the Bronze Age and up to the present day – it was even used as a base for troops, planes and tanks during World War Two.

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