Enjoy a stroll around Belfast’s former water supply. Home to many birds and wildfowl this is a popular walks for locals in the foothills of Cave Hill.
Distance 1.3 miles
OS Map Sheet 15 + Belfast Street Finder
Terrain Surfaced paths with some steps
Nearest Town Antrim Road, Belfast
Route Shape Circular
Grid Reference J333765
Route Type Parkland & Grassland, Urban
There are 3 walks around this site – 0.4, 0.9 & 1.4 miles around 2 lakes on tarmac paths.
The longest walk 1.4 miles is described here.
This is a circular walk that can be started from any of entrances to the Waterworks. This description begins at the Queen Mary’s Gardens entrance on the corner of the Cavehill Road and the Antrim Road.
At the round flower bed keep to your left alongside the stream and over the bridge. Climb both sets of steps, then turn right; notice the former gate keeper’s house, (now private). Continue along the tree lined avenue and alongside the lower pond, pausing to enjoy the birdlife and views of Cave Hill.
You can climb to the upper level pond via the steps straight ahead or the ramp to the left. The islands and green edges of this pond are home to a variety of wildlife.
Soon you will pass a small playground before passing over another bridge. The path winds its way around the upper pond. After circling the upper pond, a path off to the left returns you to the lower level.
On the north bank of the lower lake you will find another playground and seating. This area is dominated by the Waterworks Multi-sports facility (Tel 028 9075 4200).
From here it is a short walk back to the starting point.
Birdlife, ponds, views
No parking in the park.
None on site, refreshments available locally.
- The path can be expected to be hard and firm with some loose stones (not bigger than 1cm) and will be at least 1.2m wide for its entire length.
- The path will not be steeper than 5° or have a cross slope of greater than 5°.
- There will not be any obstacles such as steps or stiles and surface breaks will be a max of 12mm in width.
- There will be a clear head height of at least 1m wide and 2.1 in height for the entire length of the route.
- There will be passing places at least every 150m and rest areas at least every 300m.
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As I have not been here since my childhood in the 1950s, it was interesting to see if what exists fitted my memories. The ponds were very muddy, presumably from the high rain levels in the last few days feeding the river, but saw Teal, Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese, several Herons, Coots and Moorhens as well as the expected Mute Swans (with last year’s cygnets), Mallards and Black-Headed gulls. Little birds included House Sparrows, a male Blackcap and GreatTit. Unexpected was a Little Egret just below the cascade in a light patch of weed, facing downstream in the fast-flowing water and doing the little dance they do, stirring up the water to flush out fish. A good walk despite the relatively large number of walkers for an overcast Thursday afternoon, while everyone kept their social distance and smiled. Definitely worth returning for more. As for the memories – sunnier and bigger back then, but I was only 9 at the time!
Surprisingly enjoyable as there is a great mixture of views: on the one side the Belfast Hills and on the other the urban landscape towards Belfast Lough. In addition the houses in the area have a lot of character, unlike much of what has been built in the last 50 years. Would recommend and have gone back.