One of the most beautiful forests in Northern Ireland between history, nature and magic: Gosford Forest Park

What do you imagine when you think to Ireland? Many answer: Guinness, green, the cliffs on the sea. I mostly think to forests and magic landscapes from fairies and leprechauns’ stories books, and this is right the ambient I found in the place I will talk you about today: it’s near Armagh, it’s called Gosford Forest Park and I add only that made me, enemy of public toilets and of sleeping on a bed of insects, want to go there and camping.

DSC_0383lGosford Forest Park, previously Gosford Demesne, is a 240 acres land that includes fields, gardens, little lakes, Gosford Castle and its more incredible part: the forest. The use of this area dates back to 1600, when it was property of the Acheson family; lately it remained to the Gosford Earls, descendants from the Achesons, for hundreds of years before starting its decay after the World War I. It was acquired in 1958 by the Department of Agriculture and in 1986 it became the first conservation forest in Northern Ireland.

Furthermore, the demesne was a location of Game of Thrones: if I say Riverrun you recognize anything? 😉

1. The entrance

Just passed the entrance (there’s a fee if you go inside with the car) you are immediatly throw in the wild nature, with in the middle few buildings abandoned  and left in the mercy of the greenery:

DSC_0399l2. Dean Swift’s Well

Between the abandoned buildings, there’s also Dean Swift’s Well on the Drumlack River; it wasn’t easy to find information on this character, but it seems he was a Dean of St. Patrick’s that often was passing long periods in the country around Armagh.

DSC_0404l3. The poultry heritage collection:

Inside Gosford Forest Park there’s also an area in which is preserved some poultry heritage:

4. The forest:

As I said above, the most breath-taking part of the park is surely the forest one. Walking on a carpet of clover and leaves, in the middle of trees so high you can’t see the top, you find yourself throw in the middle of one of the many irish stories we all read or listen to:

DSC_0460l

A thing left me surprised: it’s incredible how in a forest like this it’s easy to get lost. Stevie walked some steps ahead of me, not far, but was enough to take other two or three steps and he was hidden by the trees’ perspective. I thought all the stories in which you get lost in the woods were created to scare children, but now I know they are actually true.

DSC_0436l5. The deer enclosure

In the middle of the demesne, surrounded by the forest on the sides, there’s a big field that hosts a herd of deer: they are very timid, so to observe them closely is better, as Stevie suggests in the picture above, to move silently.

little_barbarianlWe tried to not be caught, but with poor results: let’s say that, if we were in the past and a community was waiting for us to hunt them, probably they were soon dying of hunger.

6. The walled garden

One of the attractions included in the park is the garden around Gosford Castle: this is another magic place.

“L’heure passe, l’amitié reste.”

7. Gosford Castle

Gosford Castle dates back at the half of the nineteenth century. It was commissioned by Archibald Acheson, second Earl of Gosford, and projected by Thomas Hopper, one of the most famous London architects of the period; it’s one of the few examples of Norman revival. In 1921, the fourth Earl of Gosford was forced to sell all the Castle’s content and during the World War II the building was commandereed and used as a prisoner-of-war camp. After the wars, the Earls of Gosford sold the demesne. Then the castle was used as an hotel and a restaurant, but then it started its decay. In 2002 the Government became owner of the building and, to restore it, divided it in private apartments. Unluckily, today it’s private and closed off to the visitors.

This was the last attaction to see in Gosford Forest Park; if you pass around here, don’t forget to visit this magic place: you will not regret it!

DSC_0494lI really hope to be able to pass some nights camping here during next summer: I already imagine myself sitting in the forest, drawing in my sketchbook. In the while I already moved forward with the work 😉

Sketching around: irish undergrowth (Gosford Park)

Thank to Jp for the visit to this breath-taking place, to Tristan for the help with the french sentence on the sundial and to Ciagula for the help with Game of Thrones 🙂

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