Hillsborough Forest

Hillsborough Forest is set in the picturesque village of Hillsborough and is adjacent to Hillsborough Fort. Very popular with visitors and dog walkers, the forest covers an area of almost 200 acres and has waymarked routes providing a variety of different walks to suit everyone.

The whole of the lake area is a forest wildlife sanctuary and is home to a wide variety of birds and animals. Look out for the many species of resident and over wintering waterfowl, especially swans and several varieties of duck. Two red graded forest trails allow the casual walker access around the lake and to the back of the forest past the Fox Fort rath.

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council have signed a Lease and Licence to undertake the responsibility for tourism and recreation developments in parts of Hillsborough Forest. The majority of the forest will remain under the management of the Forest Service, with the council taking responsibility for tourism and recreation developments only. The council plan to develop the forest into a first class, innovative and natural recreational area for residents and visitors. The newly developed family attraction will be enjoyed by people of all ages and will create health opportunities for local residents and visitors by improving access to physical recreation within the forest. The project is being delivered by the council in partnership with Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Public Health Agency and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. It forms part of the Council’s overall Hillsborough Tourism Masterplan and emerging City Deal Programme, which supports the development of Hillsborough as a key visitor destination.

Phase one of the project, which is nearing completion, involves spend by the council of approximately £1.5 million, with 66% of this being funded by a grant from DAERA.  This first phase has included the upgrading of the infrastructure works to include sympathetic improvements to existing forest paths, an upgraded car park which now has 145 parking bays (doubled in size from the original car park), a new picnic area, new bridges, new seating and viewing decks around the lake, new signage and interpretive panels and a new woodland play area for children of all abilities along with public toilets. 

The next phase of the project will be happening over the next 15 months and entails the installation of a Digital Sculpture Trail.  The Trail will consist of 10 sculptures which will include a new cutting-edge interactive digital element using immersive technologies to enhance the visitor experience and to engage users on the trail.  The Digital Sculpture Trail will showcase and promote the distinct agricultural, cultural, history, heritage, natural and environmental attributes of Hillsborough Village, the forest and the wider area.  The council will be engaging with the community in the coming months to update everyone on this exciting project.  

For more information on the works please click here.