The large granite manor house at Castlewellan, County Down, was built by William Annesley in 1856. Overlooking a lake, and with magnificent views of the Mourne Mountains, it boasts a castellated architectural style known as Scottish Baronial. The house currently serves as a private conference centre for Christian groups. The rest of the estate was designated as Castlewellan Forest Park in 1969. It contains a one-mile long lake, the beautiful, walled Annesley Garden, ponds, fountains, and ornamental greenhouses. The park also features Northern Ireland's National Arboretum (tree collection) , and a giant garden maze called the Peace Maze. Just across the lake, the village of Castlewellan is the birthplace of actress Niamh McGrady (The Fall, Holtby City) and was the home of actress Greer Garson during the 1990s.
The one-mile (1.6km) long lake at Castlewellan Forest Park is fed by surrounding streams, and is popular for fishing -- stocked annually with rainbow trout and brown trout -- and as a scene for conservation learning and projects. It began as a much smaller body of water, and was enlarged when a dam was added. The path around the lake is a popular walk with both locals and visitors.
Annesley Garden was created in the 1850s, and attractive stone works and fountains accent the natural beauty of its plants.
National Arboretum of Northern Ireland
The arboretum at Castlewellan was added later, starting with Japanese maples and coniferous trees. Other rare species followed, such as Australian Athrotaxis, Chinese Rhododendrons, and Chilean euchryphias. Some of the trees in this arboretum hold records across the United Kingdom and Ireland for their height.
The Peace Maze at Castlewellan Forest Park is the largest and longest hedge maze in the entire world. It was designed by Beverly Lear, planted in 2000, and opened to the public in September of 2001. It was created as a symbol of the hope that exists for enduring peace in Northern Ireland. The Peace Bell sits at its centre.
Castlewellan Castle. Image by Ryan McDonald
Angler on Castlewellan Lake. Image by Ryan McDonald