|Welcome to Lagan Valley Regional Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty|
From the headwaters of Slieve Croob in the peaks of Dromara, beyond the Mountains of Mourne, the River Lagan grows in its vastness and arrangement of tributaries as it sweeps and meanders down to the Lagan Navigation and out to the Irish Sea. The patchwork of valley landscapes from wet meadows, ponds and ditches to mixed beech woodland, parkland and pine plantation provides a network for wildlife and a passage to our past.
Step out onto the towpath and immerse yourself with the sounds of the ebb and flow of the river. An alarm call from a shy moorhen as it quietly stalks the riverbank reeds and twists of overhanging willow. The male and female mallard duck and crested grebe weave silently or land like water-skiers along the surface. The many willows, looming beeches and hawthorn hedgerows provide their own music as they creek in the wind during the winter months, laden heavy with lichens.
Breathe in the pine scents of Belvoir Forest, the musky aroma of ancient oaks and fields of Meadowsweet at Lagan Meadows in the spring. Gasp at the hugeness of Ballyskeagh High Bridge and uncover the long history at Shaw’s Bridge. Discover carpets of bluebells in Minnowburn, whisper stories of faeries and folklore or let smells of the turf fire at Lock Keeper’s Cottage transport you back to another time.
Enjoy a picnic by the river or warm up with a hot drink at one of the few cafes. Pick a trail and explore the rose garden at Terrace Hill with superb views across the valley of the Belfast Hills, finishing the day as the sun casts a long shadow over the ancient stones of the Giant’s Ring.
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