If you love getting back to nature, then a visit to Glenariff Forest Park, which was formed by glaciers during the Ice Age, will not disappoint. This majestic park, covering over 1,000 hectares of mature woodland, conservation areas and shimmering lake, is immensely popular with walkers, horse-riders, caravanners and campers.
Set in the valley of Glenariff, one of nine County Antrim glens and popularly known as the “Queen of the Glens”, the park is under half an hour’s drive from Ballymena and around an hour from Belfast. Some car parking is available for a small fee.
There are many miles of picturesque forest trails to enjoy, some over hilly terrain, others alongside either of the two rivers bisecting the park. The routes can be either blissfully tranquil, or take the breath away with their sheer beauty. In some places you can even stop for a swim, though it’s a little chilly! Parts of Glenariff Forest Park can often be crowded during the summer months, but it is always possible to find a quiet spot here and there.
Among the most popular routes that visitors choose to take is the famous Waterfall Walkway, a three-mile stretch that features three separate cascading waterfalls. It makes sense to stop and pick up a trail map at the friendly visitor centre, which also features interactive displays, a shop and a small cafeteria. One other tip - while walking, keep an eye out for red squirrels, as Glenariff is something of a sanctuary for them.