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Hillyard House Hotel’s ‘Adopted Back Garden’

- Posted on: 12/05/2023 -

img 20190527 wa0003 largejpg 3Nestled amidst the picturesque County Down countryside, Castlewellan Forest Park sprawls over 450 hectares of land, gracefully extending north of the majestic Mourne Mountains. Here at Hillyard House Hotel, we consider ourselves fortunate to be situated at the entrance of this breathtaking park, steeped in rich history, and cherished by many of our guests as a haven for outdoor pursuits and relaxation.


Originally part of the esteemed Annesley family estate, who held significant influence during the 19th century, Castlewellan Forest Park boasts the renowned Castlewellan Castle. This magnificent Scottish Baronial Castle was masterfully constructed between 1856 and 1858 by the Annesley family, using granite sourced from the nearby Ballymagreehan Quarry. Opening its gates to the public in 1906, the park swiftly became a beloved destination for day-trippers and holidaymakers, lured by its awe-inspiring scenery, expansive gardens, and serene ambience.


castlewellan forest parkDuring the 1960s and 70s, Castlewellan Forest Park underwent a remarkable transformation, welcoming several recreational additions, including a captivating lake and an enchanting arboretum. The lake, formed by skilful damming of the River Shimna, now serves as a sanctuary for a delightful array of waterfowl, including graceful swans and elegant ducks. The arboretum, an exquisite tapestry of trees and shrubs sourced from around the globe, beckons nature enthusiasts and photographers to immerse themselves in its captivating allure.

For guests staying at Hillyard House Hotel, an exploration of Castlewellan Forest Park is an absolute must. With its storied past, stunning scenery, and abundance of activities, it offers the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, inviting visitors to revel in the wonders of the great outdoors. Unravel the secrets of the iconic "Peace Maze," one of the world's largest permanent hedge mazes, constructed as part of an iconic cross-community project. And don't miss the opportunity to experience the exceptional onsite multi-activity centre, Life Adventures, where our partnership allows our guests exclusive discounts on thrilling activities with our stay and get outside activity packages. For more information and to discover the enticing array of activities available, please visit the offers section on our website.


life adventuresToday, Castlewellan Forest Park is a thriving hub of activity, with something to offer visitors of all ages and interests; whether you want to go for a walk in the forest or take a paddle board or kayak out on the lake, there is something for everyone to enjoy. And exciting news is unfolding as Castlewellan Forest Park continues on its extraordinary £5.5 million development project. This ambitious endeavour includes the restoration of the park's living arboretum, and the park's iconic courtyards are set to undergo a magnificent transformation, becoming a vibrant visitor hub and a centre for community use. The details are still unfolding, so stay tuned for further updates on this exciting project. Castlewellan Forest Park is about to become an even more enchanting destination for all to enjoy on your next visit to Hillyard House Hotel!


Get your stay booked and let your unique Hillyard Experience begin…



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Guest Reviews

Tripadvisor Review
"One of the top hotels we ever had the pleasure to stay in. Every part of the hotel is spotless and the location beside the beautiful Castlewellan park is perfect for a stroll a hike or a run. The hotel is only a five minute drive from Slieve Donard ulster’s highest peak. Breakfast was perfect but the staff really make this the perfect place to stay."
Paddy, Carlow, Ireland
Booking.com Review
"One of the best stays during our holiday touring around Ireland. Clean, comfortable, had AC! Breakfast was delicious, staff were fantastic. Highly recommended this hotel."
Andrea, Canada
Google Review
"After a recent last minute visit, we are already trying to plan our return trip! A true hidden gem, not to be overlooked. The staff were so friendly and helpful, we cannot speak highly enough of them, they all had a smile on their face and chatted away to us"
Niamh, Dublin, Ireland
Booking.com Review
"Beautiful decor, charming staff, great food in the hotel restaurant. Excellent in every way!"
Angus, France
Tripadvisor Review
"I must mention that the disability access for both the hotel and the restaurant area are very good with wheel chair access and a very well laid out floor plan for ease of accessibility. "
Anonymous, Belfast
Booking.com Review
"The waiters and waitresses were a young bunch, the wee guys (and girls) were so professional and polite. It makes all the difference. Customer service was excellent across the board. This is something that is so important and Hillyard House have nailed it! I know it is a new hotel but I absolutely love that everything was exceptionally clean. Bed was amazing; I could hardly get my husband out of it... We will spread the word about this lovely place 😊"