From the carpark, walk under the arbour to the visitor centre. Here there are toilets, a restaurant and very well laid out interesting audio-visual shows, displays and models telling of the park and its natural history. From here either take the minibus or walk 4 kilometres to the castle and gardens. Both pass close to Lough Veagh and provide wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding areas.
The castle which is built of granite has walls one and a half metres thick, ramparts, turrets and a round tower. Once there, book a guided tour and see many rooms with beautiful furniture, paintings, silverware and ornaments. Watch out for antler type items throughout and the Italian, French and Indian themed bedrooms and the Princess bedroom.
The rooms are very much as they were when the McIlhennys lived there
Enjoy some refreshments at the Castle café, sitting inside or outside in the patio where small birds, eager for crumbs, quite tamely fly in and out among the visitors
Wander round the walled garden and see everything from peonies to potatoes, poppies to rhubarb, lupins to beetroot all growing happily together – depending on the time of year.
Move from there out and visit informal gardens with different themes. Plants and shrubs, some of them unusual exotic and delicate species, come from many countries. There are self-guiding trails and walks through the gardens.
Most spectacular of all, are the rhododendrons when in full bloom – in the walled garden in August and around the castle in May and June.
Outside the gardens and on the hills a wide variety of wildlife can be found. Peregrines and merlins can sometimes be seen on the high land and also red grouse and ravens. Smaller birds such as siskens, treecreepers and warblers can be found in wooded areas.
The herd of red deer spend the summer on high ground and come down to lower areas for the winter.
Hill Walking is for properly prepared hikers and the Centre asks that proper precautions be taken before setting off.
A nature trail 2 kilometres long starts at the Visitor Centre and another short trail leads to a point above the castle with marvellous views.