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More about Monkstown Wood

Monkstown Wood was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2007 and provides a calm, green haven in a busy urban area in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. Take a stroll along one of the pathways and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. As you wander, look out for the four two metre high leaf sculptures that are waiting at the entrance to greet you.

Tucked between the Nortel industrial site and Monkstown housing estate, Monkstown Wood is a nine hectare (22 acre) natural refuge in the midst of the built up local landscape. Mature broadleaved trees such as rowan, oak and ash stand firm against the encroaching noise of traffic and industry, and enhance the sense of seclusion.

Follow one of the paths through habitats as diverse as grassland and woodland, and take a stroll along the Three Mile Water. The river bustles with brown trout and salmon, while dragonfly and damselfly flit above its surface.

Explore wooded areas and look out for speckled wood butterflies as they flutter through the trees and shrubs and bask in summer sunshine. Listen for the unmistakable sound of the song thrush while swift and house martin tear through the summer sky.

Buttercups Peter Carpenter
Buttercups are a cheerful sight in
the wood (WTML/P. Carpenter)

Whether you visit during midsummer or midwinter, there’s always something to discover. Chaffinch, robin and great tit brighten up bare winter branches with their brilliant plumage, while blackbird and dunnock forage for food in the leaf litter. If you’re lucky, you might spot an otter fishing in the river, and on summer evenings, look out for bats wheeling and circling in pursuit of moths.

Buttercups line your path for much of the year, while in spring bluebell, lesser celandine and wood anemone make the most of the sunshine.

Monkstown Wood brings a real feel of the countryside right into the town and is a great place to escape to from the hustle and bustle of modern life and re-connect with the natural world.

And thanks to funding from Biffa Award and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, this little gem is undergoing a facelift. There will be new and improved access, pathways and way-markers to lead you through this quiet corner of nature. 


Monkstown Wood is sandwiched between the industrial Nortel site of the Doagh Road and Monkstown housing estate in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. It sits in a wooded river valley with the Three Mile Water running along its northern boundary and is a glimmering green haven among the urban sprawl.

Grid reference: J345839


By bus

For information about bus stops and timetables, visit TranslinkUlsterbus or
Traveline (call 0871 200 2233).

By train

The nearest railway station is Mossley West, about 0.8 km (half a mile) from Monkstown Wood.

By car

From Belfast, head north onto the M2 until it becomes the M5. Follow the M5 to Newtownabbey. At the roundabout, turn left onto the A2 (Shore Road), before turning right onto the B59 (Doagh Road). Continue on Doagh Road, and you will see the wood on the right-hand side.

There is a small gravel car park off the Monkstown road (look out for the large leaf sculptures). The wood can be accessed by several openings and gates from the surrounding area/lane; in particular a kissing gate from the car park and two gates off the track to the south of the site and next to the industrial estate and Hurtle Tout Lane. Each of these is linked to Doagh Road along the site’s southern edge.

Access and walks

You can wander into the wood through one of four entrances, including a kissing gate and two openings next to the industrial estate and Hurtle Tout Lane. Each of these is linked to Doagh Road along the site’s southern edge.

The bridge spanning the Three Mile Water is part of the Newtownabbey Way, which connects Belfast Lough in the east to Mossley Mill in the west. It is also part of the National Cycle Network (route 93), which follows the southern edge of the wood. The path over the bridge leads to Monkstown, while the path to the right leads to the wooden sculptures.

Though there is no circular trail around the woodland, there is a 2km (1.25 mile) permissive path and a bridleway running through it, and by following them, you can take in the sights and sounds of this urban oasis. The path is well managed and is relatively flat and easily accessible for people of a range of abilities.

Nearest amenities

Public conveniences

The nearest are at Mossley Mill, close to Mossley West railway station.


There are a range of restaurants and places to eat in Newtownabbey. For more information, visit

Accommodation and tourist Information

For a comprehensive list of restaurants and places to eat in and around Newtownabbey, please visit Antrim and Newtownabbey council, TripAdvisor or Discover Northern Ireland.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.