Slievenacloy in the Belfast Hills is a haven for wildlife and people alike at the edge of the busy urban populations of Belfast and Lisburn.
A great escape from the hustle and bustle of Belfast and Lisburn, the Slievenacloy Nature Reserve is located in the valley between Divis and Colin Mountains in the Belfast Hills.
From here you will have brilliant views of Divis and Colin Mountain to one side and Stoneyford reservoir to the other.
The site is described as a mosaic — a patchwork of different types of habitat all blending together. The three main habitats which you will see are species rich grassland, wet heathland and rush pasture, but there are also areas of fen, bog, and a stream system. Depending on what time, you visit you will see the wildlife supported by these habitats.
Combining elements of all three trails at Slievenacloy, this walk takes you around the entire reserve. The Belfast Hills Partnership helps look after and promote the hills area — visit belfasthills.org for more information.
The walk can be found off the Flowbog Road where parking is available.
Park at the layby just beside the entrance double gates on the Flowbog Road. Enter Slievenacloy through the double gates and then climb over the field gate to your right and walk through the lowland meadow, following the fence line on your right, parallel to the road. At the intersecting fence line, use the stile, then cross over Stoneyford stream.
Follow the earth bank up the slope ahead and through the rush pasture, watching out for boggy areas. At the next fence line, turn left following the waymarker posts north until you drop down and cross over the stile onto the surfaced track. Turn left and follow the surfaced track west, taking a right turn at the junction, following the track up the hill.
At the end of the track is Viewpoint Two. From here head left though the kissing gate and follow the fence line until you reach a pedestrian gate on your right. Go through this and continue to follow the fence line right, around the edge of the reserve, looking out for views across Lough Neagh to the Sperrins. The fence line will bring you down the slope to a surfaced track and Viewpoint One.
At Viewpoint One follow the surfaced track down the hill. At the bottom of the hill go through the kissing gate, turn left and follow the road for a short distance until you are able to cross over and enter the far side of the reserve through a pedestrian gate. Follow the rough track towards the field gate.
Once through the gate follow the waymarker posts across the hillside and down the slope to the bridge. Cross the Stoneyford River and follow the waymarker posts up the far slope to the fence line. Follow the fence line east, watching out for wet and boggy areas. Waymarker posts will again guide you down the slopes and back over the Stoneyford River.
Follow the track up the slope to the Flowbog Road, crossing through a pedestrian gate where you will see the main entrance to your left.
The site is particularly important for orchids, birds and fungi, and offers panoramic views from the Mourne Mountains to the Sperrins, and beyond. But there are more than spectacular views to see at Slievenacloy — look out for a long list of bird species including hen harrier, lapwing, skylarks and meadow pipits.
On the ground you’ll find some interesting plants such as spotted, marsh and butterfly orchids, the rare moonwort fern as well as high numbers of wax cap fungi.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN), tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com.
Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation NI and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.
Walk Name: Slievenacloy Boundary.
Nearest big town to start: Lisburn.
Distance: 4 miles, circular.
Time: 2 hours, approximately.
Terrain: This walk is on off-road paths and rough pasture and is therefore not suitable for those with limited mobility.
Access Restrictions: Due to grazing livestock, dogs must be kept on a lead.
Facilities: Parking is available at the lay-by on the Flowbog Rd just beside the entrance grates. Refreshments can be bought from the Glen Colin filling station at the junction of the Ballycolin/Colin Glen Road.
Publications: ‘Welcome to Slievenacloy’, available by contacting the Ulster Wildlife Trust 028 4483 0282
Walk developed by: The Ulster Wildlife Trust
Map: Sheet 14 &15 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).