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Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan

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Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan
Author: NIWalks, Published: 27 Oct 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star0 Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim star0 Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim star0 Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim star0 Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim star0 Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim
Antrim, Belfast
Walk Type: Garden or park
Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim boot Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim
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This 1.5 mile circular route explores Belvoir Forest near Belfast including a stretch along the south bank of the River Lagan. There are a number of historic sites to be found within the forest including a Norman Motte and a medieval graveyard.

Belvoir Park Forest was opened in 1961 and covers 74.8 hectares (179.5 acres) along the south bank of the River Lagan. It is a microcosm of forestry in Northern Ireland, a varied forest environment together with physical evidence of land use down through the ages. There is also a chance of seeing red squirrels, especially at the feeding station near the car park.

The park is open 24 hours a day. The route follows gravelled and some unsurfaced paths which can be muddy after periods of wet weather. There are several climbs and descents throughout, including some steep hills. There are no stiles or kissing gates on the route. Part of the route follows the River Lagan so take care with children and dogs. Giant Hogweed or Cartwheel flower is quite common in Belvoir, if the plant is handled it can cause a very nasty skin rash. Well behaved dogs are welcome in the park. Allow up to 1 hour.

The walk starts and finishes at the Belvoir Forest car park. The A55 outer ring road passes close by to the forest and directional signs are well placed for drivers travelling in either direction. From Belvoir Drive there is a tarmac entrance road leading to the Forest car park. The nearest postcode is BT8 7QT

For public transport use the translink METRO services 77 and 78 stop on Belvoir Drive, just opposite the main forest entrance. Timings are regular throughout the day from and to the city centre via Forestside Shopping Centre. Ulsterbus service 13 calls less often at the same stopping point.

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Walk Sections

Start to Scots Pine Forest
Start to Scots Pine Forest

Start point: 54.558 lat, -5.9283 long
End point: 54.5627 lat, -5.9319 long

Before you begin the walk, pause to admire the views from the main car park. Follow the main path downhill from the viewpoint. In the early 1700s the Hill family settled at Belvoir, enclosed the estate and built a large house that stood on the site of the present car park.

Take the second path on your left that passes the bottom of the steps up to the Norman motte.

The Belvoir motte dates back to Norman times when John de Courcy invaded Ulster and set up settlements at Dundrum and Carrickfergus. This example was one of a defensive ring of mottes shielding the southern approaches to Carrickfergus. Just beyond the motte is an ice house, a common feature of 18th century houses. It was used for storing fresh foodstuffs such as meat.

Continue along the path until you reach a junction. Take the path to your left which crosses a stream, then left again under the large pipe, following the course of the River Lagan. Along the way you will have good views across to Moreland’s Meadow.

Continue on this path for some distance as it meanders alongside the river, with oak woodland on your right. It eventually leaves the river and leads uphill through a Scots pine woodland.

Scots Pine Forest to Medieval Graveyard
Scots Pine Forest to Medieval Graveyard

Start point: 54.5627 lat, -5.9319 long
End point: 54.5588 lat, -5.9239 long

Further along, the path runs adjacent to Belvoir golf course; soon you will see a low wall around a medieval graveyard on your left.

Thirty-five species of birds have been recorded in the forest. These include common resident species such as blackbird, song thrush, robin and woodpigeon and more unusual species such as jay and long-eared owl.

This private graveyard, which sadly has been heavily vandalised, dates from the 14th century and holds the now empty tomb of the Dungannon family.

Medieval Graveyard to End
Medieval Graveyard to End

Start point: 54.5588 lat, -5.9239 long
End point: 54.558 lat, -5.9282 long

From here take the path downhill, turning right through the arboretum.

Previous estate owners, the Dungannons and Batesons, planted many trees in this area. Today there are fine mature specimens of trees such as redwood and cedar. The original house, according to one observer, was not impressive as it was “an old fashioned square building”. However the 19th century renovations seemed to have improved its appearance as it was later described as “the finest Georgian mansion around Belfast”.

The last private tenant at Belvoir was Sir James Johnston, who was the Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1917-18. Unfortunately by the 1960s the house had fallen into a bad state of repair and it had to be demolished after standing the tests of time for more than 200 years.

Cross the wooden bridge then turn right. Any of the paths on your left meander uphill towards the car park.

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network Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author NIWalks and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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1 images to "Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan"

6752_0NIWalks1476521465 Belvoir Forest and the River Lagan County Antrim Image by: NIWalks
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The entrance to Belvoir Forest.

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