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Quality Walk

Downhill Forest

There are two waymarked paths in the forest; one is just over a kilometre long while the other is two kilometres in length. The Ulster Way also runs through part of the forest.




1 - 2 miles

OS Map

Sheet 4

Nearest Town


Route Shape


Route Type



Gravel paths

Grid Reference (Start)


Grid Reference (End)


Point of Interest

Northern Ireland's fattest Sitka spruce

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


Route Description

Downhill Forest is a small mixed woodland of 83 hectares just inland from the North Coast of Northern Ireland, near Castlerock. The Forest was originally part of the estate of Frederick Harvey, the 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, which included Downhill Castle, now maintained by The National Trust.

A walk through Downhill Forest will allow you to view one of Northern Irelands fattest Sitka spruce (in 1962 the girth was approximately 6m), an Early Christian Promontory Fort and an old water powered sawmill with its lade running round the small lake in the middle of this woodland.

The lake was originally designed as a fishpond, a number of Mallard ducks have taken up residence. Both the waymarked walks pass by this elongated pond.

There are two waymarked paths in the forest; one is just over a kilometre long while the other is two kilometres in length. The Ulster Way also runs through part of the forest. The North West Orienteering Club have also created a permanent orienteering course in the forest.

These walks are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time.

Up to date information is available on the Forest Service web site - link below.

Getting to the Start (by Public Transport)

Translink - journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

Getting to the Start (by Car)

From Coleraine ~ Take the A2 through Articlave, Downhill Forest is on the left after approx. 1½ miles
From Limavady ~ Take the A2 towards Castlerock, Downhill Forest is on the right approx. 3½ miles after Benone.

When parking please do not block the gates as lorries, emergency vehicles and other official vehicles may need access to this entrance at anytime.

Accessibility Grade

Grade 4


Refreshments and toilets available in Castlerock.



Publication Availability


Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
Image Gallery

Ratings and Comments

patryk 1 May, 2018 @ 10:35

Downhill Forest is a beautiful place. I have to ask what are two giant conifers? I mean species, they are majestic. Thank you very much for your answer

Mike O'Brien 24 May, 2017 @ 12:57

My wife and I moved over here from England in 2015 and have been meaning to visit this forest (which is on our doorstep) for a while now. We went there last week and needless to say we have been back everyday since. Its a delightful place to visit and I agree with the comments re the wild garlic and bluebells. Our dog loves it, its so peaceful and a real find. Im sure that it takes quite a bit of maintenance to keep it looking so lovely so well done to the team who look after it

Norma Grindle 10 May, 2009 @ 14:58

This ia most beautiful area of woodland, particularly just now with the bluebells and wild garlic blooming in all their glory - not to mention the promise of some new baby ducks on the lake during the coming weeks. It is a perfect location for either the solitary walker or a family outing. With its numerous pathways, there is room for everyone here. Then, as a perfect finishing touch, there is a delightful craft and coffee shop called Pretty Crafty located in the forest nearby on the Springbank Rd. It is ideally placed for some timely refreshment during the walk - not to mention those much-needed toilet facilities.

Alan Vance 27 September, 2008 @ 22:56

I have walked through this forrest many times and have used the forrest to have an easter hunt for my children, it is a beautiful forrest to walk through and you can spend many hours walking the many main trails and also the many little trails through the trees, I highly recommend a visit.

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