Cave Hill Country Park

sights / Parks & gardens

Cave Hill Country Park information

Location
Belfast , Northern Ireland
Address
Antrim Rd
Opening hours
7.30am-dusk
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The best way to get a feel for Belfast's natural setting is to view it from above. The view from the summit of Cave Hill (368m), which looms over the city's northern fringes, takes in the whole sprawl of the city, the docks and the creeping fingers of urbanisation along the shores of Belfast Lough. The rounded forms of the Mourne Mountains can be seen far away to the south and on a clear day you can even spot Scotland lurking on the horizon.

The hill was originally called Ben Madigan, after the 9th-century Ulster king, Matudhain. Its distinctive, craggy profile, seen from the south, has been known to locals for two centuries as 'Napoleon's Nose' – it supposedly bears some resemblance to Bonaparte's schnoz, but you might take some convincing. On the summit is an Iron Age earthwork known as McArt's Fort where members of the United Irishmen, including Wolfe Tone, looked down over the city in 1795 and pledged to fight for Irish independence. The path leading to the summit from the zoo or castle car park passes beneath the caves that give the hill its name.

Cave Hill Country Park spreads across the hill's eastern slopes, with several waymarked walks and an adventure playground for kids aged three to 14 years. To get here, take any of buses 1A to 1G from Royal Ave to Belfast Castle or Belfast Zoo.