Tollymore Forest Park – River Trail

(4 reviews)

Having descended the Azalea Walk to the Shimna River, the trail turns upstream along the attractive tree lined river bank past the Hermitage to cross the river at Parnell’s Bridge. The 10 metre cascade fall is most spectacular.

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Tollymore Forest Park – River Trail

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  • A pleasant riverside walk which could have more red arrows to assist with clarity. Signage is not hi vis and can. Ee adult blocked by passers by. Dog loved it.

    AJ Harkness at 7:53 am
  • A pleasant riverside walk which could have more red arrows to assist with. clarity. Dog loved it.

    AJ Harkness at 7:44 pm
  • I am disabled ambulant – ie, I need walking poles on slopes (particularly down). I’m also a retired Mountain Leader.

    Firstly, I would say how sad it is to see an official map of the area missing the two most basic components of proper mapping – where is North? – oh dear, it’s at the bottom, that’s confusing! And scale – there’s a hint of this from the walk information.

    Now onto the walking. I would say the red route is as easy as it says with one or two caveats. My leg doesn’t bend much. There’s a myriad of tree roots along the riverside so I would say that anybody who needs a stick to walk, be very careful about foot placement.

    The walk itself is stunning. A fabulous riverside walk and glorious mini-cascades along its length. A great pity about the “Game of Thrones” filming trolleys, trucks and other paraphanalia not really out of sight. I wouldn’t say they were subtly discrete.

    Signage? This Mountain Leader succeeded in starting the route in reverse because the actual start location is not as obvious. C’mon, put up a decent visible signpost in the very full car park. I spotted the noticeboard when we finished! And perhaps slightly more signage along the route – just to keep you confident you are going the right way. We also walked right past the White Fort, gave up a while later and then walked right back past it without even noticing it. Its location is very far from obvious.

    All in all, though, I would say the red route is a “must do”.

    We also walked “beyond piste” by taking in the supposedly much more difficult Drinns route as well – do you know, it may the walk a lot further but it isn’t very difficult. Just more stony ground than the red route and a somewhat steeper route at times.

    Lastly, I know maps can have too much detail, but this one misses out some very obvious “other trails”. So next time, I shall bring an ordnance survey map which tells the truth here

    Ian WJ at 7:08 pm
  • County Down

    Distance 3.3 miles

    OS Map Sheet 29

    Terrain Easy off-road paths

    Nearest Town Newcastle

    Route Shape Circular

    Grid Reference J343325

    Route Type Forest, Riverside, Woodland

    Route Description

    Follow the red waymarker arrows from the car park.

    Down the Azalea Walk towards the Shimna river to the Hermitage this trail passes through both conifer and broadleaved woodland before crossing the Shimna at Parnell’s bridge.

    Dramatic views of the Pot of Legawherry can be seen from the trail. There is an optional spur to the White Fort Cashel before following the Spinkwee River downstream, past the cascades and back to the Meeting of the Waters.

    The trail proceeds through conifer plantations, past the duck pond and crosses the Shimna River over the Old Bridge, returning to the car park via the Green Rig.

    Trail Features

    Steps, gullies, tree roots

    Moderate gradient (1:4)

    Generally undefined edges

    Overhanging branches

    Broken surface material

    Some rest areas at irregular intervals

    Way-finding markers at trail junctions

    Distance to go Markers at trail junctions

    These walks are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time.

    Up to date information is available on the Forest Service web site – link below.

    Point of Interest

    Shimna River, the Hermitage, Parnell’s Bridge, the Cascades

    Getting to the start

    Signposted from Newcastle. Take the road to Bryansford and the entrance to Tollymore Forest Park is on the left.


    Car park (fee charged), toilets (disabled access), picnic areas, camping and caravaning, electronic ‘In-Touch’ information kiosk, way-marked/ nature trails, guided tours available.

    Accessibility Grade

    Grade 5

    • There may not be a formalised path, and variable, single file trails are to be expected.
    • Gradients and cross slope could be expected to be steep and not limited.
    • Obstacles and surface breaks of greater than 75mm measured across the line of the path to be expected.
    • Overhanging branches are possible. Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.