Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Castlewellan Forest Park - We visited it and... We got lost in the maze!!!

Last week we went to County Down. We've already been there a couple of times but it's a gorgeous piece of land and we wanted to re-visit 2 Forest Parks there.

One of them was Castlewellan Forest Park, an amazing space right outside Castlewellan village (you would have never guessed, I know!).

We had been there when the kids were very young and we wanted to explore it a little bit this time, specially the Peace Maze

The Peace Maze in Castlewellan is the second largest permanent hedge maze in the world with 2.18 miles of pathway, not bad eh? It was the first until 2008, when the Pineapple Garden Maze in Hawaii (with 2.46 miles of pathway) was built and stole the first position from us (grrrrrrr).

It was planned in 1998 and was designed to commemorate the peace and reconciliation efforts of Northern Ireland in the previous years. It finally opened to the public in September 2001. 6,000 yew trees were planted - most of them by more than 4,000 school kids and locals, who actively participated in the design as well. I have to say: the results are amazing.

So there we were, at the entrance, really looking forward to start our journey. We would do it in no time! this was easy peasy for us!!!!

We read the instructions a couple of times and wore our caps and some water - we wouldn't need it of course - as we would find the bell at the end of the maze super quickly. I have to say: sometimes we're very naive, but that's OK.

Fresh as a fresh lettuce, we started the journey, singing and laughing.

Ten minutes later we started to realize that this was a bit more complicated than we thought. But we did not lose hope, of course! Continued laughing, making jokes and suggestions of the right path to take:

Twenty minutes later Martin suggested (with a very low voice) that we could cheat to get to the end (we had just seen some boys cheating through a shortcut). The rest of the family stayed calm and talked him out of this idea.

Half an hour later Martin cried out loud that he wanted to cheat, and Samuel supported this idea - they were both sitting down, drinking the water remaining in one of the bottles.

Forty minutes later we ALL wanted to cheat, but we couldn't find the shortcut anymore!!!! (that is very bad luck, isn't it?). Believe me: we tried EVERYTHING to get to the end:

Fifty minutes later, when trying to find the shortcut, we found the correct path to get to the centre of the maze (yesssss!). Happy to have survived this "near-death experience", we were looking for the bell to ring (the famous Peace Bell which is - I read somewhere but I can't remember where- one of the most ringed bells in the whole island), but it wasn't there... well, we'll have to come back, with more bottles of water and some food this time!

But Castlewellan Forest Park is not only the Peace's much much more! Including the magnificent Castle, which looks just impressive from the distance (the kids look like tiny elves in the pics!)

and the lake, arboretum and several paths to take a lovely walk just enjoying the peace and quiet of this park. 

We took a walk around the lake and it was very peaceful: some people fishing or just enjoying the weather by the lake, others walking like us... The kids felt a bit zen:

of course, we could not forget the ball so the boys of the family (Dad also) played football a little bit after our walk while I had a nap, enjoyed the sun and the birds singing....oh! what a hidden pleasure!

Then we had an ice cream from the park cafe (which sells hot and cold beverages, ice creams and some other snacks) 

And then back to the hotel in Newcastle (I'll tell you all about it in my next post!)

As a summary, our opinion about Castlewellan Forest Park: Totally/absolutely/completely/radically worth a visit with the kids!!! Take water and food for the maze, comfortable shoes for the walk around the lake, a good ball for the football game in fron of the castle and a soft blanket for the nap...and enjoY :-)


  1. Preciosos jardines! Espero que algún día me lleves Manuel!

  2. Looks lovely, I never heard of it but impressed by your intro and after reading this I would definitely like to go with the kids ... we love a challenge ;)

    1. I'm sure you'll all love this challenge Naomi, but be prepared: it looks easier than it really is :-)

  3. I never heard of it but it looks great and sounds fantastic, we will have to put it on the family to do list ;)