Riverside trail at Minnowburn

Minnowburn Car Park, Ballylesson Road, Belfast BT8

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Edenderry Village and St Ellen works from the lagan towpath © Minnowburn, National Trust

Edenderry Village and St Ellen works from the lagan towpath

Shaw's Bridge looking towards Belfast at the start of the 20th century © Minnowburn, National Trust

Shaw's Bridge looking towards Belfast at the start of the 20th century

A horse drawn lighter on the Lagan near Shaw's Bridge © Minnowburn, National Trust

A horse drawn lighter on the Lagan near Shaw's Bridge

Route overview

The route starts in Minnowburn, but takes in the banks of the River Lagan, into the heart of the Lagan Valley Regional Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This area is at the centre of Belfast's history, both as a settlement and as a centre of industry when Belfast was one of the foremost industrial cities in the world.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map for riverside trail
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Minnowburn Car Park, grid ref: NW445242

  1. From the car park take one of the paths down to the Lagan riverside and follow the path upstream. The path will take you past Edenderry Nature Reserve and the old Edenderry House estate, almost to the village itself.

  2. From the brown wooden Gilchrist Bridge the village can be reached by continuing past the bridge and taking the path off to the left. Otherwise cross the bridge and follow the tarmac Lagan towpath back downstream.

    Show/HideEdenderry Village

    On the edge of the Minnowburn property is Edenderry, a village born of Belfast's linen industry. Originally the area was the estate of Edenderry House, the residence of John Russell who had established a bleachgreen in 1780. Later the mill was purchased by John Shaw Brown and became a successful linen empire, with the village growing up around the mill. A power plant produced coal gas for the houses and the workers also had access to baths, allotments and a club. Now the mill is gone, but the original nucleus of the village remains.

    Edenderry Village and St Ellen works from the lagan towpath © Minnowburn, National Trust
  3. Follow the towpath past Barnett Demesne on your left, up to Shaw's Bridge, past the boathouse and through the gate into the car park.

  4. From the Shaw's Bridge car park follow the path under the new road bridge and then the path to the right which runs through an avenue of trees parallel to the river.

    Show/HideShaw's Bridge

    The site of Shaw's Bridge was the original crossing point on the Lagan. Before the bridge existed it was the fording point for the route from the north to the south of Ireland. The first wooden bridge was built in 1617 with an overlooking fort on the site of Malone House. The fort and possibly the bridge were destroyed in 1641 and an engineer in Cromwell's army, Captain Shaw, rebuilt it in oak in 1655, giving the bridge it's name. Later the bridge was rebuilt in stone a number of times before the current bridge was constructed in 1709.

    Shaw's Bridge looking towards Belfast at the start of the 20th century © Minnowburn, National Trust
  5. Follow this path through Clement Wilson Park until it reaches New Forge Lane. Turn right and follow the road past the car park on your right to the bridge back over the river. Continue along the path to the Lock Keeper's Cottage and Inn.

    Show/HideThe Lock Keeper's cottage

    Work began in 1756 on making the Lagan river navigable and was completed as far as Lisburn by 1763. The work consisted of making a number of 'cuts' through the larger loops of the river and building a number of locks. In 1958 the river was finally closed to navigation. Some of the locks remain and lock number 3, or McLeave's Lock, is one of the few where the cottage, bridge and lock remained intact. It has since been restored and the lock is now fully working and the cottage is open to the public.

    A horse drawn lighter on the Lagan near Shaw's Bridge © Minnowburn, National Trust
  6. At the cottage and just after the lock, cross the stone bridge over the canal and follow the path back to Shaw's Bridge.

  7. Passing under the new and old bridges, follow the riverside path past the three meadows back to Minnowburn Bridge. Cross the bridge back to the car park.

End: Minnowburn Car Park, grid ref: NW445242

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: OSNI sheet 15
  • Terrain:

    Flat gravel and tarmac paths with few shallow gradients.

  • How to get here:

    On foot: Our paths link to the Ulster Way at Shaw's Bridge and also connect to the Lagan Towpath which runs between Belfast and Lisburn. Look out for the National Trust signs

    By bike: Our property links to National Cycle Network Route 9 at Shaw’s Bridge

    By bus: From the Europa Buscentre in the centre of Belfast, take either routes 13D or 513 and stop at Shaw's bridge

    By road: We're just off the A55 ring road from Belfast to Newcastle, in South Belfast. At Shaw's Bridge, follow the brown signs down the Ballylesson Road to Minnowburn car park

  • Contact us