Belshaw's Quarry

Nature reserves are chosen from among the very best examples of our wildlife, habitats and geology. They contain a wide range of species, communities and geology and their designation is a public recognition by Government of their importance.


Belshaw's Quarry is situated 3 miles northwest of Lisburn. Visitors will be able to access this quiet nature reserve by following the road signs off either the Lisburn/Glenavy (A30) or Lisburn/Dundrod (B101).  There is a lay-by available near this site which provides parking to visitors who may want to explore what this idyllic place has to offer.  Belshaw’s Quarry is fully accessible to visitor as paths and steps provide access to much of this site.

Sights and sounds

This particular area is full of history as the quarrying operations finished at Belshaw's Quarry around the year of 1950. Within this area, it is possible to see evidence of times when the site was once a scorched desert, a sea bed, engulfed by molten lava and entombed in ice. Some 225 million years ago, the base of Belshaw's Quarry was a desert.

Millions of years later, the relative levels of the land and sea had changed and this area was at the ocean bed. Tiny animals lived in the sea and when they died their hard shells settled on the bottom to form a deep layer of chalk. Later, about 66 million years ago, a great volcanic flow of molten lava covered the chalk and formed a basalt layer above. Ice sheets then grounded the surface of the basalt to form reddish-brown boulder clay. As a result the basalt was quarried to provide stone for road building.

The abandoned quarry has also developed into a home for nearby wildlife. Dragonflies dart over the tall bulrushes of the pond while orchids are regularly spotted over the drier parts of the quarry floor. A colony of common blue butterflies adds to the purple-blue hue and wild strawberries provide flashes of red to catch the eye of observant visitors.

A sculpture trail managed by Whitemountain Community Association helps tell the story of Belshaw’s Quarry ancient geological history.


  • car parking in lay-by
  • information point

Further information

Site Manager - Tel: 02838399195

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