Northern Ireland is renowned for its beautiful landscapes and stunning scenery, and among them are its beautiful forest parks.
From the sprawling forests of Crawfordsburn Country Park, to the enchanting forest of Prehen Wood, Northern Ireland’s gorgeous woodlands offer a much needed escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Whether you are looking to bring your dog on a walk they’ve been begging you for, you need a space for your children to burn off energy, or you seek to immerse yourself in nature, photography opportunities and reflection, you are spoilt for choice with the gems available to visit across the country.
Here are some must-see forest parks in Northern Ireland for you to visit.
Additional reporting by Maisie Laughton
1. Prehen Wood - 16-2 Summer Hill, Derry/ Londonderry
Prehen Wood covers an area of approximately 200 acres and is semi-natural ancient woodland that has a magical feel. Whilst you explore these woodlands, you can almost picture fairies scampering about their carpets of bluebells. This gem is also home to some endangered creatures such as foxes, badgers, red squirrels, and butterflies, as well as being home to a variety of bird species such as the great spotted woodpecker, and long-tailed tit.
Several historic buildings can also be found in the forest, such as Prehen House, a Grade A listed building, with records revealing that it was inhabited by 1640. Photo: Michael Cooper
2. Florence Court Forest Park - Florence Court House, Marble Arch Road, Enniskillen
Florence Court is a large 18th-century house and estate located 8 miles south-west of Enniskillen, nestled against the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain. It is one of the most beautiful Georgian houses on offer in Ulster, and inside you will find a fascinating collection of Irish furniture and some of the best plasterwork in Ireland. The grounds offer glorious walks and views, and include a pretty walled garden, a saw mill and an ice house. There is also access to 15 kilometres of trails with easy to understand signage for a variety of abilities. The forest park offers a beautiful location for those who want an all round outdoor adventure in the backdrop of natural Irish beauty. Photo: DiscoverNI
3. Silent Valley Mountain Park - Head Road, Ballymartin, Newry
The Silent Valley Mountain Park is ringed by mountains and is an area of outstanding natural beauty, offering stunning parkland, lakes and a pond. The forest covers an area of approximately 2,000 acres and attracts around 50,000 visitors per year who come to enjoy the peace and solitude of the area and to view the unique landscape and wildlife. There are seven walking routes within the park which cater for varying abilities, including easy-to-complete trails which do not require special footwear, and harder trails which include rough terrain and steeper gradients.
You can follow the Kilkeel River and the former railway line used to transport both men and machinery. Another highlight of the Mountain Park is the impressive Mourne Wall, which comprises 22-mile dry stone which was built in the 20th Century. Photo: DiscoverNI
4. Davagh Forest Park - Davagh Road, Omagh
Davagh Forest is located approximately six miles northwest of Cookstown in the Sperrin Mountains and covers an area approximately 1,000 acres. The area is known for its scenic beauty, mountain bike trails, and walking trails, including gentle mountain biking and walking trails, as well as a 16km red trail with grey slab rocks. One trail that is particularly recommended to families is the Green trail, which is considered a gentle trail and is perfect for families who want to try out mountain biking for the first time. The park is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, oak, beech, and ash trees, and beautiful bird species such as the buzzard and peregrine falcon. The visitors centre provides useful information about the park’s interesting history and ecology, as well as allowing visitors to hire bikes and equipment during their visit. Photo: DiscoverN