Slievenacloy Nature Reserve is a hidden retreat of species-rich grassland famous for its beautiful orchids in early summer.
Situated in the Belfast Hills, between Stoneyford and Divis Mountain, Slievenacloy Nature Reserve, owned and managed by Ulster Wildlife, is one of the best examples of a species-rich grassland in Northern Ireland.
Its name Sliabhna Cloiche means ‘townland of the stone’, most likely a sacred landscape during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with eight prehistoric burial monument recorded. Towards the Stoneyford River is a mysterious earth ring.
The site contains the remains of an old farmhouse dating back to 1833.
To maintain Slievenacloy’s important habitats and special wildlife, the reserve is grazed with traditional livestock such as Irish moiled cattle from early summer to mid-winter. Essential habitat management including rush cutting and scrub control is also carried out throughout the year.
Visitors are welcome to explore this special site on foot, all year round from dawn to dusk. This vast wilderness of over 300 acres is a mosaic of natural meadows, purple moorgrass and rush pasture. At various points there are breath-taking views across Belfast and five of the six counties of Northern Ireland. There are old farm tracks throughout the site and some waymarked trails.
Where to walk….Priest's Hill Walk
Blue route (Approx 1 hour). This will lead you around some of the highest points on the nature reserve, offering stunning views over the Northern Ireland landscape. From either direction, follow the roads to one of the two viewpoints that show you the panorama. From either viewpoint, follow the fence line onto the health. This walk goes through some prime bird watching territory. First section, from farmhouse to viewpoint 1 is easy access (0.3 miles). The 2nd section (1.1 miles) is moderate as there is no obvious trail, although there are markers at various points along the walk.
Red route (Approx 2 hours). This leads you down the hill and across the Flowbog Road to discover one of Slievenacloy’s sites of archaeological interest- the earth ring. (Approximately 2 hours). This walk also takes you along the lower wildflower meadows and the stream of the Stoneyford Valley.
Yellow route (Approx 1 hour, 15 mins) This heads off into the east of the nature reserve, into rush pasture and through some great examples of species-rich grassland and landscape.
Google Streetview links of Slievenacloy Trails
Click on Images and explore!
Open to the public year round. Gates normally locked so park on the roadside and walk up.
As this is a farmed landscape, dogs must be on leads at all times.
Parking: Parking is on an informal basis along the roadside. When parking, please make sure not to block gates as these are needed to access the site.
To organise parking onsite for groups, call Ulster Wildlife on 028 4483 0282
Toilets, disabled toilets: Contact Ulster Wildlife to arrange access to toilets if needed
Flowbog Road entrance
Ballycolin Road entrance
Leave M1 at Junction 3. Turn right off slip road under M1 bridge, to the end of Blacks Road. At T junction turn left. After 50 metres turn right at traffic lights onto Suffolk Road. At end of the road turn left onto the Glen Road. After 2.5 miles turn right just before Colin Glen Road filling station onto Ballycolin Road. After 0.5 mile turn left onto the Flowbog Road, the entrance is found about 0.7 mile on the right hand side of this road
There is open access to this site all year round
Before you go download our Access code leaflet. This provides general guidelines on how to look after yourself and the environment when out in the Hills
AT A GLANCE
- Picnic tables
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