The name of this wood, walk and nearby settlement is Gowlin, pronounced Goolin locally. The name is derived from the Irish word ‘guala’ or ‘gualainn’, meaning a shoulder. As you climb up the hill and onto the level ground, you have ascended up onto a great shoulder or spur jutting out from the main ridge of the Blackstair Mountains. It’s this afforested spur that gives it’s name to the area.

In the Village of Ballymurphy take a right turn before the bridge and follow this road past he school and sportsgrounds, after about 5 minutes drive the entrance to the forest will be on your left hand side.

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Gowlin Trail – Distance: 2.0 – 4.2 kilometres – Ascent: 140 metres – Walking Time: 45 minutes – 1½ hours. – Distance and time include the return journey.

Start: Car park at entrance to Gowlin Wood. Alternative start is reached by driving up the forest road to car park at forest road junction.

From the lower car park at the public road, follow the forest road as it climbs steadily uphill and around a large zig zag bend. The forest road levels out and reaches the upper car parking area at a junction.

The upper car parking area is located at a forest road junction. Keep left here and carry on up and around the hill on a forest road. This narrows down to a track and shortly you will pass a colourful old cottage up on your right. This is Ryan’s Cottage and the Ryan family lived and farmed up here till about the 1950s, before the land was forested. There were at least seven children reared in this house but like many a remoter house in Ireland, the family gradually moved down to houses on lower ground and/or emigrated.

You may carry on past Ryan’s and shortly you will come to a gate at the edge of the forest. You have now reached the end of the Gowlin Trail and after admiring the view, please return by the same route. The forest that you now traverse back down the hill was planted in the 1960s and is largely a commercial plantation of Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole Pine, both fast growing coniferous trees with applications in the construction business and manufacture of wood products. Keep your eyes peeled though and you may well see deer flitting away, squirrels climbing trees or the increasingly common buzzard circling the skies.

Trail Map