Size:

5.47 ha (13.52 acres)

Grid reference:

J332805

Map reference:

Explorer NULL

OS Landranger 15

This lovely mature woodland offers an oasis of beauty and tranquility close to the northern edge of Belfast’s suburbia. It has a wonderful mix of wildlife, including seven types of bat, as well as spring flowers, ponds and open glades.

Take in the history and enjoy a break from the bustling life of Belfast and maybe spot our heron sculpture along the way.

Features

  • Public access
  • Autumn colour
  • Spring flowers
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Throne Wood

Throne Wood (5.47 hectares/13.5 acres) lies parallel to the main road heading out from the northern edge of Belfast, close to the neighbouring borough of Newtownabbey.

Throne Wood can be accessed from the A6 Antrim Road and is located 1.2km (0.7 miles) south of the turning for Belfast Zoo. The entrance to Throne Wood is just 90 metres (300 feet) south of the Kincraig Park stop.

The nearest railway station is Yorkgate or Whiteabbey.

Visit Translink for more information.

The adjacent Antrim Road is served by several bus routes.

Visit Translink for more information.

Facilities and access

The access paths were developed from the existing Throne House and hospital paths, with a new access track from the Antrim Road making a loop of the wood possible.

The access gate is to the west of Antrim Road, near the old entrance to Bellevue Zoo.

There is no car park at the wood. Nearby parking includes Belfast Castle, Belfast Zoo, Upper Cavehill Road and Upper Hightown Road.

Toilets and baby changing facilities are located at Newtownabbey Superstore on Church Road or at the Throne shopping area off the Whitewell Road. These are just 1.2km (0.7 miles) to the north-east of Hazelwood Integrated Primary School, via Arthur Road, and approximately 15 minutes’ walk north-east from the entrance to Throne Wood.

Wildlife and habitats

Animals

Despite being so close to Belfast, Throne Wood is a haven for wildlife and home to a number of native animal species, including seven types of bat. Two small ponds provide habitats for frogs and other amphibians and a wide variety of bird species.

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Trees, plants and fungi

The mature woodland at Throne Wood provides a calm atmosphere in an otherwise urban setting.

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Habitats

With ponds, broadleaved trees and open glades, there are plenty of habitats for wildlife to explore in this mature woodland. 

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Since we acquired the site in 1998 the paths have been improved, the ponds enlarged and around 2,000 new native trees have been planted, some by children from the neighbouring Hazelwood Integrated Primary School.

About Throne Wood

History

An elephant angel

In 1941 Denise Weston Austin, a zoo keeper from Belfast Zoo, secretly walked a baby elephant through Throne Wood in order to protect it from the Second World War. Once Denise’s head zoo keeper had left for the evening, she would take the baby elephant, named Sheila, from her enclosure and walk her to her back yard. The route they took went through Throne Wood.

Denise was known as the ‘elephant angel’. Her story was made into a book – An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo – and a feature film called ‘Zoo’.

Throne House Estate

When first built, the Throne House Estate stood way out in the countryside, well away from the centre of Belfast. However over time urban sprawl encroached, bringing housing right up to the grounds where the former hospital building still stands.

Today, only faint traces of the house remain deep within the wood. Antiquarian and poet Sir Samuel Ferguson lived in Throne House for a time in the 1820s.

Throne Wood Hospital

11 hectares (28 acres) of land was purchased in 1872 by the Martin family of Shrigley, Killyleagh, with the aim of establishing a children’s hospital close to the city of Belfast.

This area became known as 'The Throne Lands' and the hospital first opened its doors on in 1874. It was extended to include a convalescent home a few years later. The site, when purchased, already included a house which was marked on the 1830 Ordnance Survey map as 'The Throne'. It is believed that Throne Wood was probably planted in the late-18th and early-19th centuries in the grounds of the house.

The hospital still stands but is now just a ruin, having closed its doors to patients on 4 November 1992.

Things to do in Throne Wood

Throne Wood - Management plan

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Throne Wood Management Plan

PDF  (126 KB)