We frequently visit the North of Ireland because my hubby is from Banbridge in Co Down and one of our favourite spots to stop off for a walk with our dog Missy has to be the Hillsborough forest park and lake walk.
Located in Hillsborough town, which is not too far from Banbridge, it is easily accessible, with plenty of parking spaces at the entrance to the forest and very dog friendly. A big plus for us because we always travel with our dog and she loves her walks.
It is an excellent place to go for either a quick walk or a longer meander around the lake. There are two main routes to take, one brings you around the lake and comes in at just over 2km and the other brings you past the Fox Forth rath and is just over 3km. We generally do the lake walk because I love to watch the swans and the ducks.
Our most recent visit to Hillsborough forest was during a grey winter’s day and the forest itself was quite empty, the lake reflecting the silver and blue tones of the otherwise grey sky. Visiting is a great way to unwind for a short while especially after driving all the way from Galway.
Needless to say our springer Missy loves it there, we do keep her on the lead when she is near the water, otherwise she would be in it disturbing the ducks.
Just over half way through the lake walk there is a path leading from the lake into Hillsborough Fort. Colonel Arthur Hill finished building the artillery fort in 1650, and the Hill family built the village of Hillsborough.
We generally don’t visit the fort on every occasion but this time we did, as it was very quiet we took the opportunity to have a look around.
The artillery building was remodelled in the mid 18th century for use as a country house for large scale feasts and entertaining. It is said, at one wedding party in 1837 3,500 guests sat down to a roast beef and plum pudding. The main building also has many grotesque sculptured faces which are interesting to take note off. Standing up on the rampart inside the fort allows for a lovely over view of the lake and forest.
It is free admission into the fort but only the grounds are are open to the public. Opening hours are 10 – 4 Monday to Saturday and 11 – 4 on a Sunday.
For more details visit Walk NI website at http://www.walkni.com/walks/255/hillsborough-forest-lake-walk/