The mischievous trolls get into your SatNav around this magical mountain- so we advise not using it to get here! Good old pen and paper, they can’t muddle that up… Scroll down the page for a map and directions.
Slieve Gullion Forest Park offers the unmissable opportunity to experience tranquil woodland trails, stunning views across the Ring of Gullion, Mourne Mountains, Cooley Peninsula and Armagh Drumlins and top class facilities for walkers and families. Play in the Adventure Playpark; explore the Giant’s Lair in the wonderful Hawthorn Hill Forest Nature Reserve and woodland trails, or take a turn in the ornamental walled garden, where you will find picnic benches, an outdoor performance stage, an al fresco coffee bar (open in the summer) and a wildlife pond with covered seating areas.
Head off on Slieve Gullion Scenic Drive, through 10km of woodland and mountain heath which turns a glorious purple in the summer, taking in amazing sights along the way. A way-marked trail leads from the scenic drive to the ancient passage tomb on the south summit of Slieve Gullion, continuing on to Cailleach Beara’s Lough and Bronze Age tomb and down the north side of the mountain. There is a full events programme throughout the year too.
The Giant’s Lair – Children’s Story Trail
The most ambitious children’s arts project commissioned in Northern Ireland, the brand new Giant’s Lair at Slieve Gullion, is open to boys, girls, elves and fairies alike. A must-see landmark cultural attraction, The Giant’s Lair is an innovative magical living storybook. The Giant’s Lair Story Trail takes visitors on an unforgettable journey of intertwined fairy house and arts features creating a fantastical childhood land of mystery, dragons, giants, witches and fairies. The art in the Giant’s Lair is all inspired by the rich tapestry of local legend and mythical folklore on over a mile of woodlands at Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
Follow in the footsteps of Flynn the mischievous fairy, who has one important job – not to allow anyone to wake Slieve Gullion; it might look like a mountain but it’s really a sleeping giant! Drop in for a cup of dandelion tea, grab a seat at the Giant’s Table, stroll along to the Ladybird House and sneak a peek at local witchy trickster, The Cailleach Beara. The Giant’s Lair is, without a doubt, the premiere outdoor attraction for children from far and wide, capturing a genuine sense of enchantment and mystery in the beautiful setting of Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
Situated beside the Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark, with handy car parking available. The Giants Lair is free to walk round and explore; The trail takes you into plenty of nooks and crannies so a backpack carrier or baby sling is recommended for tots.
The Giant’s Lair takes you on a journey of magic and imagination so get ready to encounter the unexpected and enjoy! Click here to download a map of the Giant’s Lair trail, drawn by Órlaith Rice.
Giant’s Lair book
The long awaited Giant’s Lair book is now available from the Children’s Art house and Newry Visitor Information Centre. The first in a collection of Children’s Fairytales devised to compliment the Giants Lair story park. Join “Flynn” the troublesome fairy on his many adventures on Slieve Gullion.
Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark
Set in the beautiful grounds of Slieve Gullion Forest Park, the perfect start to any family trip to the Forest begins with a stop off at our action-packed Adventure Playpark.
We have something for everyone and the Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark is guaranteed to keep kids of all ages delighted and thoroughly entertained. It includes a specially designed toddler’s area, adventure and play equipment for the older kids, the “Slieve Gullion ZIP” and even a trim trail for the adults. And once you have all burnt off some energy on the slides, climbing frames and outdoor gym equipment, made a wish on the wishing chair and made your way out of the maze, treat yourselves to a delicious treat at the Slieve Gullion Courtyard – you’ve earned it!
The Forest trails, magnificent 10 km Scenic Forest Drive (also an alternative exit), Red Squirrel Safari and the mysterious trek through the Giant’s Lair all begin nearby so there is plenty on offer to explore and enjoy. The Slieve Gullion Courtyard, set in the midst of the park, is home to a Visitor Information Office and the extremely popular café, as well as the wildlife pond – an essential stop off after a busy morning on the swings. The Slieve Gullion Passage Tomb is well worth a visit, with an annual Winter Solstice (21st December) event dating back thousands of years too.
The Slieve Gullion Forest Adventure Playpark is a must visit for the young and young at heart alike, providing award winning play facilities for children and young people. Slieve Gullion Forest Park was awarded the Green Flag in 2014 and awarded 4 stars in Tourism Northern Ireland’s prestigious Visitor Experience Star Ratings in the same year. The Playpark has also attained the ‘Green Apple Environment Award’ and ‘NITB Best Tourism Partner Initiative Award’.
The Sensory Trail
Set along a quieter stretch of forest the Sensory Trail is the first purpose-built trail of its kind in Ireland. It is designed for children and adults with a additional sensory needs, however it can be used by anyone looking to have a slow adventure through the forest, exploring it with all the senses.
You don’t need anything special to explore the trail, however to get the full benefit we recommend you bring:
- A blindfold, such as a scarf or eye mask – for the ‘Blind Rope Challenge’;
- Drawing chalk – for ‘Instant Poetry’;
- Paper and crayons – for ‘Tree Treasure Hunt’, if you’d like to take a rubbing of the different leaves; and
- A spare pair of socks and/or a towel – for ‘Bare Your Souls’.
Slieve Gullion Guided Tours for playgroups, schools and youth groups
These trips are organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. There are trips for ages 3 to 11, for a booking form, click here and click here for information for teachers to consider before booking. Please email your completed booking form to [email protected] or ring +44 (0) 28 3025 6670 for more information.
The Fairy Kingdom Nursery to P3 (ages 4 to 7)
Slieve Gullion’s fairies care for the forest and everything that lives there. The Fairy King needs help to keep the forest safe from a troublesome fairy! Can the children help protect the forest animal and birds’ home? Through hands-on activities, the children learn about Slieve Gullion’s forest, play nature games and complete fun tasks to help the forest fairies save their home.
Finn’s Magical Forest Primary 3 to 5 (age 6 to 9)
This fun packed and curriculum-linked forest walk encourages children to engage their natural curiosity to uncover the wonders of Slieve Gullion Forest. The pupils explore the woodland’s wildlife while learning about Slieve Gullion’s magical myths and legends. Activities are seasonal and may include: myths and legends, mini-beasts, birds, mammals, trees, seasonal changes, migration, conservation/caring for the forest, camouflage, hibernation.
Secrets of the Forest Primary 6 to 7 (age 9 – 11)
This walk is full of activities to help the children investigate the woodland habitat and develop their scientific skills and knowledge. Through tailored tasks they explore how living things depend upon and adapt to the forest habitat. They are encouraged to gain a sense of ownership of Slieve Gullion and become more aware of their own role in caring for the environment and their local area.
There is more information available about the tour prices, how to book etc by clicking here.
Opening times – Giant’s Lair and Adventure Playpark
The park is open seven days a week;
1st April to the first weekend in October – 8am until 9pm (or dusk depending on the time of year)
First weekend in October to 31st March – 8am until 5pm (or dusk depending on the time of year)
Closed Christmas Day
Special opening times during Footsteps in the Forest Annual Summer Festival, click here for details. The Fairy Queen only allows those with a magic ticket to enter the Giants Lair on those two days.
You can exit along the beautiful 10 kilometre Slieve Gullion Forest Scenic Drive if the gates are closed; The staff have to lock up all the trolls at night or they would cause havoc throughout the Ring of Gullion!
Please note the Forest Drive will be closed during the Annual Footsteps in the Forest Summer Festival and during times of extreme snow and ice Slieve Gullion Forest Park will be closed.
Slieve Gullion Forest Park is free to enter.
In the Slieve Gullion Courtyard buildings there is the newly opened Synge & Byrne Café (8am to 6pm 7 days a week), Synge & Byrne Coffee dock, Clanrye Tuck Shop a Visitor Information Office and toilets. The café, and toilets have disabled access from the carpark – follow the signs.
The car park can accommodate 120 cars (8 disabled parking bays), and has space for four 50 seater buses; there is also an additional 80 spaces in an overspill car park. Do drive and park with caution as there may be small children, fairies and trolls about.
The Adventure Playpark, Giant’s Lair, Carpark, and Courtyard will be staffed during opening hours by a partnership of organisations. You can ask staff in high visibility clothing for any extra information, and they are all trained in First Aid for your safety.
There are a number of rooms for meetings, conferences and even weddings at Slieve Gullion Courtyard – you can book a room by calling the Clanrye Group on +44 (0)28 3084 9220 (Monday – Friday 9.30am-4.30pm).
Dogs are not allowed in the Adventure Playpark, and must be ‘under control’ at all times in the rest of the Forest Park.
Slieve Gullion Visitor Information Centre – +44 (0)28 3025 6670
Slieve Gullion VIC Opening House:
Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm
Newry Visitor Information Centre – +44 (0)28 3031 3170
Newry VIC Opening Hours:
Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm
The mischievous trolls get into your SatNav around this magical mountain- so we advise not using it to get here! Good old pen and paper, they can’t muddle that up.
From either Belfast or Dublin directions; Exit through the Forkhill Exit, B113. This sign also directs visitors to Newry, W’point and the Mourne Coastal Route. From the slip road you will pick up the first sign for Slieve Gullion Forest Park (4th exit from north, 1st exit from south). On the exit road you will pick up signs for Forkhill B113 and Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
After 1.5km you will pass a petrol station on the right and another on your left. A further 2.5km will take you into the village of Meigh, after exiting Meigh watch out for the Slieve Gullion Forest Park signs – from Meigh it is only 1.5km. Continue on until you see the entrance for Slieve Gullion Forest Park, avoid the temptation of going down the Wood Road or the Baillintemple Road and always…..look out for trolls, fairies and giants!
If you are coming from Jonesborough, turn right when you reach the Three Steps Bar and Lounge on the corner of the B113, follow the signs for Newry. From here its 2.5km to the Forest Park gates, watch out for the approach signs.