Kilbroney Forest Park-Cloughmore
Kilbroney Forest Park is one of those green and pleasant places that make N. Ireland the beautiful place it is. Set on the side of Slieve Martin on the north side of Carlingford Lough it is a popular weekend and afternoon destination for families from near and not so near. It is an excellent place to wind down after a drive along the County Down coast, or to burn off the extra calories after a meal at Rostrevor.
How to Get to Kilbroney Forest Park-Cloughmore
Kilbroney is located just outside Rostrevor. If you are coming from Newry on the coastal A2 road, go through the town and on the edge of it on the east, north-east you will see a turning to the left and the relevant sign. If you are coming from the opposite direction, from Kilkeel on the A2, then just before you reach the town centre you will see the sign and turn right. Follow the little part road a few hundred meters ad to the left is the main car park.
What to Do in Kilbroney Forest Park-Cloughmore
Most people park the car in the main car park and then spend their time around there. There are play areas for children of different ages, tennis and playing fields. There is an arboretum. Kilbroney Park itself is on the edge of Rostrevor Forest, planted in 1931, which extends for 4,000 acres and there are many pleasant walks in the woods, by brooks of cool water. And there is a small cafe where you can have your traditional tea and scones but also more substantial meals. For those into caravanning, there is a caravan park.
If you have small children, then you will discover that they want to stay around the pay area. We visited the park on several occasions both as a family and with friends who also had small children and we happily spent several hours there.
Don’t Stop There
Most visitors are content to stay by the play area and the cafe and take short walks through the woods. But the best part still awaits you.
If you exit the main car park, the road on which you arrived continues up the hill. It is very narrow and fairly steep and soon becomes only a one way road. You can opt to drive it with your car. The drive takes you through Rostrevor Forest with its tall, mostly coniferous trees, thick enough to shut out much of light of the sun. After about five minutes of driving up the steep incline in the dark and densely wooded area, you will reach Cloughmore car park 230 meters above sea level, and usually with only one or two cars there. If you are feeling adventurous, you can choose to walk to Cloughmore car park, either by following the paved road or one of the paths up the hill. But be warned, it is more of a hike than a walk. From Cloughmore car park you get a lovely view of Rostrevor and Warrenpoint and the surrounding countryside. Just letting your eyes gaze over the landscape is relaxing.
To the Crest of Kilbroney Forest Park-Cloughmore
If you still have spare energy and time then there is still more to experience. You see, the view from the car park eastward and northward is blocked by the landmass of Slieve Martin with the result that you only see in the Rostrevor/Warrenpoint direction southward and westward. To experience the full delight of the landscape therefore, park your car and follow the clearly visible path towards the crest of the mountain. Walking the path should only take 10 to 15 minutes but if the day is cold you will feel it much more up there. Once there you will see a massive boulder, Cloughmore, an Irish name which simply means, “big stone”. It is pronounced KLO-H-MOR. The huge stone weighs about 30-40 tons and some believe it was transported all the way from Scotland!
Once on the crest of the mountain you can enjoy a nearly 360 degree view. You can see the whole of Carlingford Lough from Newry to the open Irish Sea. You can see Carlingford and the surrounding hills. And to the north and west you can see the Mourne Mountains and the lovely coastline.
Northern Ireland offers many vantage points which afford excellent views. Kilbroney Forest Park is one of them. It is not the most famous or sought after but it is one of exceeding natural beauty. On a clear day it can form an excellent conclusion to a County Down coastal tour.
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