A day out at Slieve Gullion Forest Park
With the first week of school over us we were all fairly tired at the weekend. It takes a little while to readjust to the early mornings and homework routine. However, with a weekend off work I was determined to get us all out and about exploring, especially while the weather is still so mild.
There were lots of events happening in Northern Ireland at the weekend with the Portrush Air Show and the Hillsborough Oyster Festival being highlights-both truly spectacular family days out. But, we decided on a bit of a lie in and something more low key as our energy levels weren’t at their peak.
Following a lazy Sunday morning breakfast we made the decision to go to Slieve Gullion Forest Park. Located just outside Newry, it’s not too far away and we had heard such positive reports about it over the Summer but just hadn’t had the opportunity to visit.
….so glad we did go though! What a beautiful, magical place. The perfect spot to spend a Sunday afternoon with the family.
Slieve Gullion, also known as ‘The Giant’s Lair’ has a huge Adventure Playpark, complete with zips-line, wishing chair, lots of climbing frames and slides. My boys would happily have spent the entire day there but I wanted to take them on a walk through the forest as I had heard about the little fairy kingdom located there.
We spent ages exploring the Fairy Kingdom. I didn’t expect my 10 year old to be overly enthused by the tiny fairy houses built into the trees because it’s not ‘cool’, but he said it was ‘really nice’ and I could tell they were all caught up in the magic of it. We must have gotten fairy dust sprinkled on our toes while we were walking…
The forest walk trail is dotted with lots of interesting things from children’s stories…
A giant’s table, a huge carved witches head, little log cabins as well as musical instruments and lots of structures made of willow. It is a beautiful walk and the kids loved exploring all the special features.
We also gave the boys a container each and told them they had to make a ‘sweet potion’ and a ‘stinky potion’ using things found on the forest floor (we instructed them not to pick anything off trees or plants as this wasn’t kind to nature). They loved finding the nicest smelling things-blackberries, clover, moss and using a stick to mix it all together but I think they took greater pleasure finding the smelliest things they could to make a truly rotten smelling ‘potion’ which I had the privilege of having shoved under my nostrils every 5 steps… little amuses the innocent as they say!
At the end of our trail we tipped the mixtures onto the grass so that the fairies could collect it. Apparently the smelly potion would be helpful in fending off wolves and monsters and the sweet potion (which actually smelled quite nice) would make a nice perfume for the fairies. What great imagination the story trail had sparked!
The Giant’s Lair is completely free, so if you are ever looking for a magical adventure I would highly recommend a visit. The forest walk is beautiful and not too long so even little tots could give it a go and the views across the Mourne Mountains are stunning. Just be careful to tread lightly… you don’t want to wake the giant!