Cave Hill Country Park

(6 reviews)

The Cave Hill Trail is 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 and a must do for anyone visiting the City of Belfast with fantastic views of the City, panoramic views of County Antrim & County Down, Historical Sites and a range of habitats and trails, however the place can become a bit overwhelming with the popularity of the place so recommend either a mid-week or early Sunday visit.

    Nicholas Davis at 2:09 pm
  • Sunday sunrise at the top of Cavehill did not disappoint. My daughter and I decided the evening before that we were going to do this scenic walk early on the Sunday morning. It was quite a breezy day, but thankfully dry & sunny. Upon reaching the summit, the views and sunrise were spectacular. The only downside of the walk was that it was quite mucky in places and sometimes you thought impassible, but given the time of year that was to be expected. Thankful we had a map as the signage for the route was a little obscure in places. Will definitely revisit again in the summer and would highly recommend it.

    Rosemarie at 11:13 pm
  • Absolutely beautiful views. A lovely walk, the only reason I wouldn’t give it the full 5 stars is because some parts of the path are just pure mud baths which were tricky to navigate, could do with a little bit of maintenance. And the paths could be signposted better you come across a lot of little junctions not knowing which way to go because there’s no arrows. I got a map leaflet from the Belfast Castle that had a good layout of the paths so that was a big help for knowing which way to go. Generally keep left to any junctions if you’re doing this route (anti-clockwise following the directions on this page)
    Apart from the that the walk is lovely, went early on a December Sunday morning and caught the sunset on the way up it was beautiful superb views of the city at the top.

    Laure at 11:34 am
  • 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 walked anti-clockwise 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 an open seating area. Stop here to admire the fabulous views over the city and Belfast Lough.
    Continuing on, you come to the Devil’s Punchbowl with the first cave in front of you. Keep on the path to the right of the cave and you will skirt the plateau on a gentle ascent. The path turns left onto the cliff top at the junction with Hazelwood. Continue to ascend the plateau towards McArts Fort. Pause again to take in the magnificent views.
    The trail continues on a wide gravel path heading south with views over Lagan Valley. Follow this towards the Upper Hightown Road. Along the way on the left you will pass a path which provides a short cut past the limestone quarry. At the bottom of these steps turn right to join the main castle drive. Continuing on the Cavehill trail turn left at the dog-leg near the waterfall and follow the lane along the perimeter.
    The takes you to the Upper Cavehill Road entrance, re-enter the site using the entrance on the left and follow the path into the woodland. At the junction take the path on the right and you will return to the main drive to Belfast Castle. Follow this to back to the walking trailhead.

    Getting to McArt’s Fort from other access points

    From the Back Drive at Belfast Castle head downhill in the direction of Gray’s Lane. Follow the path on the left. Turn left at the first junction and continue uphill. At the next Junction turn right and follow the Cavehill Trail.

    From Gray’s Lane follow the paths on the Estate Trail to a natural spring known as the Volunteers’ Well. Take the paths on the left to join the Cavehill Trail uphill until you reach the main climb to the Devil’s Punchbowl. From here follow the Cavehill Trail.

    From Belfast Zoo car park and Hazelwood follow the paths on the right hand side and ascend the hill emerging at the edge of the plateau. Follow the path uphill across the top of the cliff.

    From Upper Hightown Road follow the lane to waterfall and at the fork you will join the trail.

    From the Horseshoe Bend descend the path in the field below the Origin sculpture and join the paths in Carr’s Glen uphill to the Cavehill Trail.

    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 – journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

    Dog Policy

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

    Facilities

    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.