Cave Hill Country Park

(6 reviews)

A challenging route, over unsurfaced paths, past the caves to McArt’s Fort, and crossing moorland, heath and meadows. You will discover much of what the park has to offer from archaeological sites and wildlife to panoramic views.

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Cave Hill Country Park

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  • 5*walk.But not well kept.
    Bitterly disappointed in the state of the place. Overflowing bins. Dog pooh black bags lying around bin area as no space to deposit. Empty disposable coffee cups stuck in hedgerow. The grounds of the castle overgrown except the immediate forefront of the castle. Shame on the grounds keepers.
    I know we had lockdown but since the easing of lockdown some effort could have been made to clean it up. If this was your first visit here you would think twice about coming back. Who is responsible for the upkeep of this beautiful area?? If you need help there are plenty of people who would be keen to help clean it up. Our wee country is a beautiful place that we want to show off but not when it looks like that.

    Audrey Anderson at 1:49 am
  • Took the cavehill trail on Saturday afternoon; it was a fantastic walk, quite steep at times but well worth it. The only problem we found was the way markings, especially on the way back are next to useless, particularly if its a first time. Luckily i had downloaded a map onto my phone which kept us more or less right. As you get closer to the Castle/carparks there should be something to indicate this. Needs some work. The walk itself deserves a 5 rating but the route marking is more like a 3.

    Shaz at 2:35 pm
  • Set off from Upper Hightown Road with the intention of doing the full walk. Had no problem up to the Fort but, having gone on from there, I could not identify clearly the return path. I ended up on the road the lorries use. Had a brilliant walk but it could be better signposted.

    Roy at 1:55 pm
  • County Antrim

    Distance 4.5 miles

    OS Map Sheet 15 + Belfast Stree

    Terrain Steep climb, unsurfaced paths

    Nearest Town Antrim Road, Belfast

    Route Shape Circular

    Grid Reference J32864 79119

    Route Type Mountain, Urban

    Route Description

    This is a challenging circular route beginning at Belfast Castle and following the green way marked arrows. It can, however, be joined from Bellevue car park, Upper Hightown Road or Upper Cavehill Road.

    Begin at the interpretative panel in the car park just before the entrance to Belfast Castle. Climb up the path on your left until you reach the first junction. Turn right. Follow this path through the woodland, keeping to the left of any of the junctions you come to. This path leads up through the trees, climbing on to a plateau. Stop here to admire the fabulous views over the city and Belfast Lough.

    Continuing on, take the next path on your left. This skirts round the Devil’s Punchbowl, passes below the largest cave before veering to the right. Follow this path as it climbs steadily up the hill, pausing to take in the surroundings and views on the way.

    Continue climbing up the steps to a cattle grid and fence, at the top veer to the left and follow the grass path to the top of the hill and McArt’s Fort. Pause again to take in the magnificent views before joining the main path on its gradual descent down the south facing slopes of Cave Hill.

    Continue downhill taking the next lane on your left. This leads down past the top of Carr’s Glen and carries on for some distance before reaching the Upper Cavehill Road. Go down the footpath a short way and take the path to the left. Climb over the ridge and descend into Belfast Castle Estate. Return to the starting point by means of the footpath up the main driveway.

    Point of Interest

    Belfast Castle, McArts Fort

    Getting to the start

    Car parking at Belfast Castle off Antrim Road, Belfast Zoo (Hazelwood), Upper Cavehill Road and Upper Hightown Road.

    Public transport

    Translink –

    Dog Policy

    Dogs are permitted, dogs must be kept on a lead.


    Belfast Castle is open to the public. A restaurant in the basement offers a variety of menus from morning coffee to full meals. The second floor of the Castle plays host to the Cave Hill Visitor Centre with exciting displays on the history, folklore, wildlife and geology of Cave Hill Country park and the story of Belfast Castle.

    The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:

    – Café (wheelchair accessible) – 12pm – 3pm Mon – Sat
    – Disabled toilets
    – Disabled parking

    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.