Weekend Walk: Slievenaslat, Castlewellan Forest Park
Area: Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Distance: 2.7 miles circular
Map: Sheet 29 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series available from Land & Property Services osni.gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk/map-shop-information.
Nearest town to start: Castlewellan.
Facilities: Parking, toilet and café facilities all available within Castlewellan Forest Park.
Developed By: Outdoor Recreation NI.
Terrain: A steep climb on gravel trails through forest with steps at various locations. Suitable for those of a high level of fitness and stamina.
Walk Description: Start the new year off on the right foot by exploring the new Slievenaslat Trail in Castlewellan Forest Park. A steep but relatively short climb to work off the turkey, with fantastic views of the Mournes this walk will blow away the cobwebs so you can start the new year afresh.
With more than 7.5 miles of walking trails throughout the forest park along with mountain bike trails, ‘Animal Wood’ adventure play area and one of the world’s largest hedge mazes, an action-packed day is guaranteed.
The walk up Slievenaslat begins at the Lakeside car park – way markers here will direct you along the north side of the lake past the front of the castle before starting the steep climb through forest to the summit of Slievenaslat (272 metres). This climb is most definitely worth it for the views of the Mourne Mountains.
Take in the panoramic views of the north’s highest mountain range and surrounding drumlin landscape of Co Down from the various viewpoints along the trail. Passing the ‘Mountain Lake’, follow the trail as it weaves back down Slievenaslat behind the castle and Annesley Gardens to the lake and car park.
For those of you who dream big things for your garden at home in 2016, take a detour of the trail and get inspired by the rhodendrons and shrubs in the historic Annesley Garden. Stop to admire the impressive American Giant Redwood (added to the garden in the 1850s) or take a seat under an archway of ivy.
Responsible Walking: Please remember to practice the principles of 'Leave No Trace’ when enjoying the outdoors in order to minimise your impact on the environment. For more information, visit leavenotraceireland.org.
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