Walk of the Week: Barnett’s Demesne
This route explores an historic estate in Lagan Valley Regional Park, taking in Malone House, meadows, woodland and the River Lagan.
Barnett’s Demesne is a countryside park harbouring a variety of birds and wildlife right on the fringes of the city of Belfast. A must-see is the magnificent Shaw's Bridge, spanning the River Lagan.
The last owner of Barnett’s Demesne, William Barnett, was the breeder of the first Irish horse to win the Derby. He gave his house and grounds to the people of Belfast upon his death in 1943.
William Barnett lived in Malone House, situated within the Demesne and now housing the elegant Barnett Restaurant.
By car: Car park and entrance signposted from the A55 Outer Ring Road, near the House of Sport roundabout. By bike: the park is adjacent to National Cycle Network (NCN) route 9. By bus: Metro Services 8A–8C (get off at the Dub Shops and walk up Dub Lane)
From the Malone House car park, follow the path round the front of the house and alongside the security fence. Follow this path downhill, pausing on the way to admire the views over the Lagan
Valley, across to Minnowburn Beeches and the wildflower meadows on your right.
At the bottom of the hill turn right along the towpath, taking time to admire the old Shaw’s Bridge. Follow the towpath for a distance as it winds alongside the river. When you reach a kissing gate, pass through, then turn right back into the woodland of Barnett’s Demesne. At the next junction keep right and continue along the path. Take the next path that turns left uphill.
Climb up the hill, past the edge of the open meadows on your right. At the top of the hill turn right which leads you past the yew walk. After a short distance take the next path left, which leads you back to Malone House car park.
The Georgian mansion of Malone House was built in the 1820s by William Wallace Legge, a prominent Belfast Merchant.
The estate passed to the Haberton Family and finally to the last owner, William Barnett. The house is now managed by Belfast City Council as a conference and function centre.
There are more than 11 acres of meadows in Barnett Demesne, containing more than seventy species of wildflowers.
The meadows also host an abundance of invertebrates including beetles, flies, moths, grasshoppers and many species of butterfly — meadow brown, ringlet, green veined white and small copper.
This very popular Lagan Towpath runs along the river for 13 miles (20km) linking Stranmillis in Belfast to Lisburn. The towpath was formerly used by horses to tow barges along the old canal.
The woodland in Barnett’s Demesne comprises mainly mature oak and beech. In spring it is worth visiting early in the day to listen to the dawn chorus of the birds such as the chiff-chaff and the blackcap.
In autumn the golden colouring of the beech trees against their grey, smooth bark is spectacular.
There are several yew trees remaining on either side of the old yew walkway, once a yew hedge planted in the early years of the 20th century and now part of an extensive arboretum.
Throughout this site you will find collections of trees that have attractive flowers, fruit, bark and stem colour at different times of the year. Further down the hill there are collections of birch, beech and maple trees.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com.
Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN 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: Barnett’s Demesne
Area: Lagan Valley
Nearest big town to start point: Belfast
Suitability: This short circular walk is on both surfaced and unsurfaced paths with some steep hills and is suitable for most ‘occasional walkers’ of a reasonable level of fitness.
Refreshments: Malone House has a cafe, toilets and information. Opening hours apply: Mon to Sun 12–3:30pm.
Publications: A Walk in the Park, Belfast City Council’s Barnett’s Demesne and Clement Wilson leaflet; contact Belfast City Council Parks & Cemeteries, tel: 028 9066 2259
Walk Developed By: Belfast City Council.
Map: Sheet 15 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk)