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Beyond Belfast - explore Tollymore Forest Park

Rediscovering Narnia

at Tollymore Forest Park

At the foot of the Mourne Mountains, which are the tallest and most dramatic in Northern Ireland, Tollymore Forest Park sprawls across an area of more than 1,500 acres and occupies a special place in the local imagination. This is rumoured to be the inspiration for CS Lewis’s Narnia, and more recently it was a filming location for the ubiquitous television series Game of Thrones. Its enchanting leafy woodlands and peaceful winding rivers are infused with a rarely found tranquillity—and a touch of magic—that’s appreciated by all who visit.

Tollymore Forest Park has changed hands many times over its history. While it’s now overseen by the Forest Service, the park’s footbridges and atmospheric architectural sights scattered along its trails hint at its history under the Hamilton family. The ivy-blanketed follies and charming stone-hewn buildings add to the forest’s fantasy feel. Clanbrassil barn was constructed in the 18th century to resemble a church, complete with a steeple and bell. The Gothic-style gate arches, remote Hermitage and countless other curiosities seem to have been imported from a world of make-believe. Perhaps it’s fitting that these creations were the work of astronomer and mathematician Thomas Wright, a friend of the Hamiltons, whose nickname was “The Wizard of Durham”.

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