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Quality Walk

Cave Hill Country Park

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.

County

Antrim

Distance

4.5 miles

OS Map

Sheet 15 + Belfast Street Finder

Nearest Town

Antrim Road, Belfast

Route Shape

Circular

Route Type

Mountain, Urban

Terrain

Steep climb, unsurfaced paths

Grid Reference (Start)

J330791

Grid Reference (End)

J330791

Point of Interest

Belfast Castle, McArts Fort

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Other Area

Route Description

This is a challenging circular route 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 a plateau. Stop here to admire the fabulous views over the city and Belfast Lough.

Continuing on, take the next path on your left. This skirts round the Devil’s Punchbowl, passes below the largest cave before veering to the right. Follow this path as it climbs steadily up the hill, pausing to take in the surroundings and views on the way.

Continue climbing up the steps to a cattle grid and fence, at the top veer to the left and follow the grass path to the top of the hill and McArt’s Fort. Pause again to take in the magnificent views before joining the main path on its gradual descent down the south facing slopes of Cave Hill.

Continue downhill taking the next lane on your left. This leads down past the top of Carr’s Glen and carries on for some distance before reaching the Upper Cavehill Road. Go down the footpath a short way and take the path to the left. Climb over the ridge and descend into Belfast Castle Estate. Return to the starting point by means of the footpath up the main driveway.

Getting to the Start (by Public Transport)

Metro Services; Belfast Castle and Hazelwood entrance; Metro Services: 1A-1H (Mon-Sat) 1C-1E, 1H (Sun), Carr’s Glen; 12, 61.

Getting to the Start (by Car)

Car parking at Belfast Castle, Zoo (Hazelwood), Upper Cavehill Road and Upper Hightown Road.

Accessibility Grade

Grade 5

Accessible Facilities

The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:

Café (wheelchair accessible) - 12pm - 3pm Mon - Sat
Disabled toilets
Disabled parking

Facilities

Belfast Castle is open to the public. The Cellar Restaurant 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.

Publication

A Walk in the Park, BCC Cave Hill Country Park leaflet.

Publication Availability

Belfast City Council Parks + Open Spaces Dept: Tel 028 9032 0202 x 6653 or email parksinfo@belfastcity.gov.uk. The leaflet is also available to download on this webpage.

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
 
Image Gallery

Ratings and Comments

★★★★★
Paul Wylie 6 July, 2013 @ 07:30

A beautiful, scenic route. Cavehill is a nice walk that's not too strenuous for beginners.

pamela mccartney 19 September, 2010 @ 09:11

My 9 yr old daughter and I walk this regularly entering from the Hightown Road entrance. There are 2 quite steep paths but well worth the effort for the spectacular views. Have also walked from the Castle entrance but this takes a bit longer. Great walk and you feel great afterwards!

★★★★☆
George Kennedy 19 April, 2010 @ 08:54

Excellent walk with some of the best views of Belfast, the lough & on a good day you can see for miles & miles. Quite a tough walk but well worth it. Took about 1hr 20 mins walking 'quite' fast.

Kirth Ferris 19 April, 2010 @ 08:22

I love this walk, It tough going getting up, but well worth it. Even in the pouring rain I love it. I can usually do this in 2 hours, thats including stopping to take in the scenery

★★★☆☆
Grace & Geoff Wright 24 March, 2010 @ 21:37

A nice walk for a Sunday afternoon. Nothing too hard and views are excellent. You can finish with a coffee in the Castle

Robert Nesbitt 22 July, 2009 @ 19:57

I have been on this walk on a number of times From the Hightown Road entrance With our Local Rambling club The Lagan Valley Rambling Club but this time I will be Doing something Extra on the 25th July the Belfast Hills partnership will Be opening up one of the Caves to the General Public for one Day the event kicks off at 10.30 till 4pm weather permitting also a walk and talk by one of the Ranger staff heres praying for one good day

Andrew Patrick 12 April, 2009 @ 19:46

its been over 20 years since i last wlked over these hills and its still as beauitful asever well worth a look stunning views i miss it dearly

Bob & Twy Miller 17 February, 2009 @ 15:59

Strenuous workout from Bellevue! Would like a detailed map of archaeological sites that may be visited. And what is 'Nora's Grave'?

Dave Powell 13 August, 2008 @ 14:12

I did this walk with my 8 year old son last Saturday. He managed fine with the distance, but if your kids are a bit younger you might want to try some of the shorter routes closer to the castle.

Being so close to the city this is quite a popular route, not just frequented by walkers but kids on mountain bikes etc. Good boots aren't essential - I even saw one woman with her handbag and healed shoes doing the route which wouldn't be advisable but she managed ok - made me feel a bit over dressed with my boots and walking pole.

The views from the top of Cave Hill are spectacular. On a good day you can see Scrabo Tower and Stranford Lough ahead of you and the Mournes over to your right, as well as being able to pick out famous landmarks around Belfast city centre.

Maps of the route are available from the castle, we found ours on the route which had been dropped by someone along with other bits of rubbish - unfortunate, but to be expected on such a popular walk.

The route is clearly signposted for the first half. The second half, which is a gradual descent, isn't as well signposted but the route is obvious enough - just take the path to the left after going through 2 gates then just remember the castle is on your left and you cant go far wrong.

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