Nestled 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.
During 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.
Today, 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…