As well as the main sites in the Belfast Hills there are a number of smaller sites which are well worth a visit. It is also possible to walk across a number of hills using sections of road as links.
Where to walk in the Belfast Hills…Glencairn Park
Situated at the bottom of the Black Mountain and close to the Glencairn River, Glencairn Park is a large open grassland site with beautiful mature trees and woodland. Glencairn Park is very popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists due to its location amongst the Belfast Hills. It also includes a children’s playground, scenic views and walking routes. Enter the park at Glencairn Road. This site is owned and managed by Belfast City Council.
Estate lands around Forth River House, which included ground alongside Forth River, were opened to the public in 1975. Just off the Ballygomartin Road, there is a lovely walkway alongside the steep sided stream and woodland. Clarendon Park Playing Fields are located in Forth River Park. They contain soccer pitches and multi-sports facilities. This site is owned and managed by Belfast City Council.
This is a large town park with numerous walking routes as well as a wildlife pond, open meadowland and wooded areas. There is a children’s play area and picnic tables. Parking is available just off the O’Neill Road or at the Valley Leisure Centre. This site is owned and managed by Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Throne Wood was probably planted as part of the Throne House in the early 1800s and consists mainly of mature beech, ash, sycamore and common lime, with several large elms as well as two small ponds. The access gate is to the west of Antrim road, please note the site does not have a car park. The site has wetlands and good bat populations. This site is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust.
The Half Moon Lake, known locally as the ‘halfie’, is a hidden jewel just off the Suffolk Road in West Belfast. Few people know of the secluded crescent-shaped waterway’s existence, but it is a key part of the rich industrial heritage Belfast and today provides a home to a wide variety of wildlife. The access gate is just after the Upper Suffolk Road on the left hand side as you go down the Suffolk Road towards the Stewartstown Road, please note that the site does not have a car park. This site is owned and managed by Belfast City Council.
Starting with a walk around the Ligoniel Dams you can then walk along Mill Avenue and straight across Ligoniel Road entering Ligoniel Park. Follow the oak way markers through the park which lead you to a series of steps. Climb the steps to the top and turn right to walk along a tarmac path until you reach the Ballyutoag Road. Cross the Ballyutoag Road to head right, walking on the footpath for about a km. Cross over the Upper Hightown Road and just after the horse shoe bend you will find an entrance to Cave Hill Country Park on your left. Walk down the tarmac lane then take a left. You walk across two fields, heading down hill towards the Boys Model School.
From here you cross over the river on a metal bridge, and turn left, following the path upwards. At the first junction, turn left and follow signs to McArt’s Fort. At the second junction, turn right and follow signs to McArt’s Fort. This will take you past McArt’s Fort. Keep straight and head through Hazelwood. This path will take you down into the Zoo car park.
Exit the Zoo onto the Antrim Road, turning left for a few hundred meters, then right at the traffic lights onto the O’Neill Road. At the roundabout take the second exit (also the O’Neill Rd), pass the cemetery on your left, you will then come to a road on the left called Dunanney. Immediately off this road on your left is a lane way which takes you onto Carnmoney Hill. Follow this laneway past the farmhouse remains to the top of the hill. Keep following the path which then takes you down the hill and comes out at Fernlea Lane. At the bottom of the lane you will reach the Doagh Road. From here you can join up with Monkstown Wood and the Newtownabbey way onwards to the Lough shore.
Glas-na-Bradan means ‘stream of the salmon’ and refers to a creature from Irish mythology. Look out for the large salmon swimming in the Glas-na-Bradan stream and hazel trees throughout the site. This site is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust.
Discover more walks in the Belfast Hills with our OS Map.