Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor is a glorious place to spend a morning.
Home to Cloughmore Stone the stunning Kodak Corner and some outstanding views, its one of our favourite places to visit in Down!
Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and the cafe to the many things to see and do!
Some quick need-to-knows about Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor
Before you dive into the guide below, take 20 seconds to read these key points about Kilbroney Park – they’ll save you hassle in the long run:
2. Opening hours
Kilbroney Park is open daily all year round. Opening hours are from 9am daily but the closing time varies, as follows:
- Nov-March: 09:00 to 17:00
- April and October: 09:00 to 19:00
- May: 09:00 to 21:00
- June to September: 09:00 to 22:00
Parking and admission to the park are free. The main (lower) car park is near the Cloughmore Centre and is at the end of a 2-mile forest drive access road from Shore Road. There is another (upper) car park reached along a scenic drive within the park. It serves the Cloughmore Stone with trails leading up to the stone.
4. Home to plenty to do
There’s heaps to do when you visit Kilbroney park so bring a picnic, kids, dogs, bikes, walking boots and enjoy the day. Start at the Visitor Centre and learn about the forest and extraordinary Cloughmore Stone. There are tennis courts, play area, sports fields, an arboretum, walking and bike trails in the forest. Fiddler’s Green was once used for local entertainment and festivals.
About Kilbroney Forest Park
Kilbroney Forest Park was a former country estate and home of the Ross family including General Robert Ross who served during the Napoleonic Wars.
Famous visitors included William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens and C.S.Lewis. It is thought to have been the inspiration for Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
For a time, the estate was owned by the Bowes-Lyon family. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the Queen Mother and the young princesses Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth 2) and Margaret holidayed there as children.
The family sold the estate to the district council who now manage it as a public park.
The estate had a collection of rare specimen trees in the arboretum and is part of the ancient woodland within Rostrevor Forest. The leaning holm oak nicknamed “Old Homer” was voted Tree of the Year in 2016.
Other highlights include the massive Cloughmore Stone deposited during the last ice Age. Legend has it that it was tossed there by Giant Finn McCool.
Things to do in Kilbroney Park
One of the reasons that a visit to Kilbroney Forest Park is regarded as one of the best things to do in Northern Ireland is due to the volume of things there are to see and do.
Here’s a look at the walks, the unique attractions and the breath-taking viewpoints.
1. See the Cloughmore Stone
The Cloughmore Stone is a massive boulder on the slopes of Slieve Martin, accessible along trails from the upper car park.
This massive 50-ton erratic sits on the hillside 1000 feet (300m) above Rostrevor and was deposited eons ago by retreating glaciers.
However, local legend holds that Giant Finn McCool tossed the boulder, burying the frost giant Ruiscairre. Walk around the stone seven times for good luck!
2. Soak up the views from ‘Kodak Corner’
Named for its photogenic views, Kodak Corner is an area of outstanding natural beauty with stunning views across Carlingford Lough to the sea.
Follow the path upwards from the Cloughmore Stone and keep your eyes peeled for speeding cyclists descending at speed.
The path enters an area of woodland where you step out onto a natural belvedere with magnificent views.
3. Tackle the Narnia Trail
The family-friendly Narnia Trail in Kilbroney Forest Park captures the magical world and characters from the classic tales of Narnia.
Benches, child-size doorways, a maze, the White Witch and carved sculptures bring Aslan the Lion and other parts of the stories to life along the half mile trail.
4. Or the Tree Trail
The two-mile Kilbroney Tree Trail offers the best forest walks in this area of unspoilt natural beauty. Pause to admire some of the specimen trees on the loop walk that starts and ends on the car park near the cafe.
Pick up a leaflet to help you identify the trees including Old Home (Tree of the Year 2016).
Places to visit near Kilbroney Park
One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Down.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Kilbroney (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).y
1. Silent Valley Reservoir (25-minute drive)
Head off to the Silent Valley Mountain Park with its remote mountain landscape near Kilkeel. Not surprisingly, the valley is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is known for its solitude and peace. It has an Information Centre, picnic area, tea room, toilets and walking trails. The reservoir collects water from the Mourne Mountains and is the main water supply to Belfast.
2. The Mourne Mountains (25-minute drive)
3. Tollymore Forest Park (30-minute drive)
Enjoy a hike in Tollymore Forest Park with breathtaking views of the Mourne Mountains and Irish Sea at Newcastle. The 630-acre park is about 18 miles northeast of Rostrevor. From the lower car park there are four hiking trails and a local information board. Ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 miles, the trails are signposted and follow a circular route.
4. Slieve Guillion (45-minute drive)
Slieve Gullion is the highest peak in County Armagh at 573m elevation. Featured in Irish mythology, the name Sliabh gCuillinn means “hill of the steep slope” – be warned! At the summit there are two burial cairns, a passage grave and a small lake. It’s a strenuous climb with panoramic views on a clear day.
FAQs about Kilbroney Forest Park
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is there a trail via Rostrevor Forest?’ to ‘How long is the stone walk?’.
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.
Is Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor worth visiting?
Yes! There’s some stunning views from up at the Cloughmore Stone and there’s some nice walking trails to tackle.
When is Kilbroney Forest Park open?
It’s open: Nov-March: 09:00 to 17:00. April and October: 09:00 to 19:00. May: 09:00 to 21:00. June to September: 09:00 to 22:00 (times may change).