Belfast is well known for Cavehill and Divis/Black Mountain. They are fantastic but not many people venture over to Redburn Country park in the Holywood hills. Situated near Palace Army Barracks on the Old Holywood Road.
|Cash on one of the paths.|
In 1825 John Dunville was a very successful Whiskey distiller and tea merchant, by 1860 his business was one of the largest producers of whiskey in the world. In 1865 Redburn house was designed and built for his family. In 1912 Robert Dunville began collecting a private zoo, including black panther, zebra and Bruno the bear. 1934 saw the collection of animals being donated to the new Belfast zoological gardens.
|The ‘bear pit’ which was home to Bruno the black bear.|
The estate was vast and as well as Redburn house there were private gardens and a walled herb garden, when walking through this the smell of wild garlic is amazing. This walled garden is now home to Holywood mens shed. They sell a variety of plants and shrubs, this is a community project and is a great addition for the men in the Holywood area.
By 1940 Violet Dunville died and Redburn house was commanded by the Air Ministry to accommodate members of the Women’s Royal Air Force during the war.
1972 saw the House being demolished with only traces of wall are seen today. The gates and railings of the private gardens are the easiest to find and are great fun to explore.
|The remains of the private gardens, you can go inside and explore.|
There are several ways into the park itself, I prefer to use the car park beside Holywood care home and this is the easiest one to use if you are visiting for the first time due to the signposting. You can also use the small entrance and car park on the old Holywood Road but this has a very steep start to the walk, alternatively you can use Redburn cemetery. The 5km marked trail starts in the car park beside the care home.
|The signposted 5km trail|
The trails are used by dog walkers, runners and families out exploring, there are also horses at times so be aware of this. The walk is steep but weaves around making it a pleasant route to the top. It would be suitable with young kids and great for running around. I use it for running and alternate with a mix of the 5km marked trail and ‘criss crossing’ I can easily get 4/5miles in.
If you have a pram or buggy it would be best to stay low as some sections are narrow and steep. It runs alongside Holywood Golf course so keep an eye out for Rory McIlroy.
|View of the shipyard and surrounding hills.|
The park has a lot of history to it and it is great for exploring the old gardens and bear pit on the lower sections or follow the trail to the top and take in the views of the docks, Belfast City airport and skyline stretching out in front of you. A real hidden gem and one that if you live close by should definitely check out. Similar to Divis and Cavehill it can be walked in trainers or walking boots and is suitable for all levels of walkers.