Where are you going this weekend?
Castle Archdale Crawfordsburn Ness  Peatlands Quoile Redburn Roe Valley Scrabo

Country parks and nature reserves are a great place to visit at any of year.

Why should you visit a country park or nature reserve?

There's one near you

They’re free.

Let’s just get this out of the way first. They’re free to enter and free to park. You don’t need to join a club or pay a subscription. They are just free.

These places are owned and managed by the government and therefore we get to benefit from them ‘managing the land’ on our behalf.

We think they’re brilliant!

No two are the same. Whether it’s the view of Strangford Lough from Scrabo, or the history of Castle Archdale each one provides a different experience. If you go in the next few weeks, you’ll see the leaves starting to change colour.  If you haven’t been before, you are in for a treat. What are you waiting for?

They’re jam packed with plants and wildlife.

We nearly stepped on spotted a ‘common lizard’ in Peatlands; deer in Quoile; and a 400 year old Oak tree in Castle Archdale. Nevermind the countless species of birds that make their homes on the parks and reserves and the bees that feed on the wild flower meadows. What will you discover? 

They are important.

Parts of them have also been designated as Special Areas of Conservation.
This means they are home to special habitats or species which are of importance to biodiversity both on a national and international scale.
If you visit Peatlands Park, you’ll discover the largest bog in Northern Ireland. The bog has been growing for over 10,000 years and supports a diverse range of wildlife.

They’re good for you.

We all know the great outdoors is good for our health and mental wellbeing. So why not plan a visit to one of our parks and reserves? You can bring friends and family and enjoy a picnic or come by yourself and enjoy the sounds of nature. Either way, we think you’ll go home happier.

What can you do?

Simply visit a park or nature reserve. When you go, take a picture and share it on social media with #GetIntoNatureNI.

Tell your friends and family how much you enjoyed your visit and hopefully more of us will benefit from these great parks and reserves on our doorsteps.

What are Special Areas of Conservation and where are they?

What facilities do they have?

Facilities vary from site to site. But each site has free parking, toilets, paths suitable for all abilities and of course the great outdoors. Check out the links below for more information on each site.

Where will you visit first?

A variety of walks along the lough shore passing the deer park enclosure, wildfowl ponds, wildflower meadow and butterfly garden. There is also a family cycle trail waymarked around the park.

This scenic and tranquil park is situated on the coast between Bangor and Holywood. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking walks through peaceful meadows and if you are lucky you may be able to catch a glimpse of the stunning waterfall.

In the steep, wooded Glen of the Burntollet River, south-east of Derry/Londonderry, lies Ness Country park. This area consists of 55 hectares of mixed woodland along with open parkland which extends along both sides of the Burntollet River.

This beautiful area has a wonderful wilderness appeal and is situated near the shores of Lough Neagh just off the M1 at exit 13 south of Dungannon. Visitors will be able to experience both peatland and woodland habitats in addition to taking in the amazing views of the wildlife. 

There are plenty of excellent opportunities for bird watching for visitors both from the riverside path and at the bird hide overlooking the brackish pondage, which was created from the formerly known marine estuary in 1957.

Redburn Country Park is set on a beautiful escarpment above Belfast Lough. There are 7km of pathways and energetic visitors who are able to climb to the top. It will be worth it as you will be able to see the spectacular, breath-taking and panoramic views of Belfast and the south Antrim hills.

This scenic and tranquil park is located on the outskirts of Limavady and offers spectacular riverside views and woodland walks along with opportunities for salmon and trout fishing, canoeing, rock climbing and orienteering.

This picturesque country park provides a natural and relaxing retreat to visitors. For those who enjoy walking, they can go and experience walks to the beech and hazel woodlands of Killynether. During Springtime, the woodland floor is carpeted with bluebells and wood anemones.