A peace maze in Castlewellan Forest Park has made it into the Guinness Book of Records 2004. It is now recognised as being both the largest and the longest permanent hedge [6,000 yew trees] maze in the world covering 2.7 acres and 3.5 kms of paths. The construction and planning of the maze in Castlewellan Forest Park was completed in July 2001.The peace maze has been funded as a Peace and reconciliation project and it was dedicated to the Good Friday Agreement.
As one navigates their way through the labyrinth of hedges at this amazing Peace Maze it is interesting to note it has attracted over half a million visitors since it open in 2001.Since its opening on the day after the infamous 9/11 it has proved incredibly popular Visitor figures have exceeded expectations. As well as the puzzling maze, walkers can explore the various trails clearly marked out. Don’t miss the great natural sculpture Trail which tales you round the lake which is decorated with sculptures created since 1992 using natural material found in the park itself. The castle, built in the Scottish baronial style and constructed from local Ballymagreehan granite sits at the base of the wooded slopes. As popular as the maze is the Annesley Garden and the National Arboretum which is home to one of the most magnificent tree and shrub collection in Europe set in beautiful landscaped surroundings and incorporating fountains, large ponds, ornamental greenhouses and cinemascope sweeping vistas.
Radiating from the Annesley Garden are the Spring Garden, The Autumn Garden, the Winter Garden and the Cypress Pond. In 2017 Castlewellan arboretum was the first in Ireland to receive a prestigious award from the International Dendrology Society in recognition of its tree collection. The arboretum and gardens also have great scientific value as specimens here represent a horticulture collection of unequalled diversity. Hundreds of species grow in the garden. The IDS plaque has only presented 16 plaques worldwide in the last 60 years. The citation reads; “One of the most remarkable tree collections not only in Ireland but in the whole of Europe. Just a few miles from the Irish sea, sheltered by the mountains and surrounding woodland, Castlewellan Arboreatum and Annsley garden contain a truly extraordinary number of trees of great rarity, beauty and size”