A Guide To Exploring Belvoir Forest Park In Belfast

Belvoir Park Forest walks
Photos by David Marken (Shutterstock)

The brilliant Belvoir Forest Park is home to one of the best walks in Belfast.

This working forest within Belfast City links to the Lagan Valley Regional Park (it’s also one of the few places to easily see a red squirrel in the area!).

If you’re after a lovely forest walk, you’ve found it! Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and opening hours to what to look out for while you’re there.

Some quick need-to-knows about Belvoir Park Forest in Belfast

Belvoir forest
Photo by David Marken (Shutterstock)

Although a visit to Belvoir Forest Park is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

The Belvoir Park Forest is just over 4 miles from Belfast City Centre and still within the city’s confines. The main entrance is from the car park opposite Tesco in South Belfast, just off the A55. Buses 77 & 78 from Chichester Street will also get you there.

2. Opening hours

Belvoir Forest Park is open 24 hours a day, all year round and is an incredible place to enjoy the passing of the seasons.

3. Parking

The main entrance to the forest park is at the car park off the Outer Ring Road – A55 – but there are several entrances. If you want to park and walk, The Lagan towpath via Shaw’s Bridge is popular, as is the Galwally Avenue entrance.

About Belvoir Park Forest

First opened to the public in 1961, the Belvoir Park Forest is a park within a working forest and was covers 75 hectares along the banks of the River Lagan.

It was originally an estate owned by the Hill family, and their house sat on the spot where the car park is now. The buildings scattered around the Park were farm buildings built at the same time.

Historical Buildings

Just a short walk from the car park, you arrive at the 12th Century Norman motte (a raised piece of ground on which castles were built), and this dates to John de Courcy when he invaded Ulster. Also dating from this time is the Ice House, built into the motte’s side.

Stroll along the Lagan towpath to Shaw’s Bridge which was built to ferry Cromwell’s gunners across the river. You can also see the ruined Irish Ringfort.

The remains of an ancient village and a medieval graveyard with gravesites dating to the 14th century are well worth a visit too.

The Arboretum

The Hills sold the estate to the Batesons, who planted over 35 tree species and created an arboretum in the Park around 1839. Many of these trees are now unrecognised.

The Belvoir Forest Park walk

belvoir forest park
Photo by David Marken (Shutterstock)

This is a short round trip of 1.5 miles, but if you fancy a longer walk, you can always pop into the Lagan Valley Regional Park nearby.

Simply take the Lagan Towpath alongside the river, and this will take you through the Lagan Valley and on to Lisburn.

Take your time

If it’s the shorter walk, you’re after you start at the car park, and you can pick up a coffee or a cold drink at the Lockkeeper’s Cottage café, situated at Shaw’s Bridge.

The woodland trails wind through meadows and along the banks of the Lagan River. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels – you might see them at the feeding station in the car park.

Getting into the walk

Take the second path on your left, which will lead you past the steps up to the motte and ice house. When you reach a junction, keep left, cross a stream and left again to wander between the river and woods until you begin the climb uphill.

From here, it’s downhill with a right turn through the arboretum, across a wooden bridge and uphill to the car park.

The paths are gravel and quite steep at times, so as usual suitable footwear and a reasonable level of fitness are required.

Things to do near Belvoir Park

One of the beauties of Belvoir Forest Park is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Belfast.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Belvoir Park (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Ormeau Park (10-minute drive)

Ormeau park walks
Photo via Google Maps

Ormeau Park is a beautiful park in the southeast of Belfast, and its many walks and trails make it popular with walkers and runners. Access is via Ormeau, Park or Ravenhill roads. A children’s playground, gym equipment and tennis courts make it a lovely day out for all the family.

2. Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park (10-minute drive)

lady dixon park belfast
Photos via Google Maps

The delightful Lady Dixon Park is the venue for the Rose Week celebrations every July. It attracts visitors year-round to the Belfast International Rose Garden. The Park was left to the people of Belfast by Lady Dixon in memory of her husband, Sir Thomas Dixon, in 1959, and the first roses were planted in 1964.

3. Belfast City attractions (15-minute drive)

black mountain walk
Photos by Arthur Ward via Tourism Ireland’s Content Pool

Belfast has countless attractions such as Titanic Belfast, the Ulster Museum, Belfast Zoo, Cave Hill, Divis and Black Mountain, Belfast Castle and more.

4. Food in the City (15-minute drive)

food in belfast
Photos via Belfast Castle on Facebook

There’s plenty of excellent restaurants in Belfast. Or, if you fancy something more casual, there’s some great cafes for breakfast in Belfast and there’s lots of lovely spots for brunch in Belfast, too.

FAQs about Belvoir Forest Park

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from are there toilets in Belvoir Park Forest (there are) to what are the walks like.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What’s the parking like at Belvoir Forest?

There’s a decent bit of parking at Belvoir Park Forest, however, as this is a popular spot for a walk, it gets busy at the weekends.

Are there many walks in Belvoir Park?

There’s a short, 1.5 mile looped walk here. However, you can join a visit to Belvoir Forest with a trip to nearby Lagan Valley to extend your stroll, if you like.

Is there much to see at Belvoir Park Forest?

Yes, there’s plenty to see, from the remains of an ancient village and a medieval graveyard to Shaw’s Bridge and a 12th Century Norman motte, there’s plenty to check out.

Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.

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