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Winter Warmers

Posted on January 7, 2010 @ 12:52 PM in Walking

Ok, so it may be the coldest winter in 30 years but let’s not use that as an excuse to stay indoors. Northern Ireland’s landscape is truly spectacular in the winter, in fact this frosty season provides a near picture perfect backdrop for walking and exploring our natural environment in its raw beauty.

Here are some winter warmer walks on that really come alive during these winter months.

Minnowburn and Giant's Ring


1. Port Path, Co Londonderry – 6.5 miles

The Port Path follows a stretch of scenic coastline between Portstewart and Portrush and can be enjoyed at any time of the year. The winter seascape however is a sight to behold and the with the fresh breeze behind you as you stroll down Portstewart Strand this really is a winter experience not to be missed. Alongside the magnificent offshore views this route also passes by a number of interesting seasonal features such as traditional ice houses; stone built, turf roofed houses where ice was stored in the winter in order to preserve salmon in the summer. For the brave souls who partake in the ritual of a New Year’s swim the route passes Portnahapple, a natural sea pool offering great opportunities for a ‘quick’ outdoor dip. Click here for more details...


2. Castle Archdale Country Park, Co. Fermanagh – 5 miles

There is a whole host of history and wildlife on show as you walk around this winter wonderland. There are a variety of walks along the lough shore passing the deer park enclosure, wildfowl ponds, wildflower meadow and butterfly garden. There are also old flying-boat docks, ammunition dumps and slit trenches from World War II. Lough Erne played an important role as the most westerly flying-boat station, from which aircraft protected the allied convoys from the U-Boat threat in the North Atlantic. Winter is a great time of the year to explore this unique setting. Click here for more details...


3. Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim – 5.9 miles

Winter creates the perfect backdrop to explore this mature woodland, along the edges of steep sided river gorges with freezing waterfalls and open, frosted moorland. The trail first takes you down the Inver River gorge, to the edge of the Ess-na-Crub Waterfall. Once you cross the river at the bottom of the trail, you begin a long and winding climb offering views of the Glens and of the Mull of Kintyre across the sea. You cross over the upper reaches of the Glenariff river at the top of the trail. At this point you are on the frozen peat moorland. Your way back gives spectacular views straight down the misty Glen to the coast and the sea beyond. Click here for more details...


4. Slieve Gullion, Co. Armagh – 9.5 miles

This walk is located within the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Slieve Gullion rises to 573m and is the centrepiece of the volcanic landscape and is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The purples of the heather contrast with the yellow of dwarf gorse and orange of the bracken to create rich mosaics of colours which contrast with the many greens of the agricultural farming landscape. The Ring of Gullion and Slieve Gullion, in particular, have rich associations with Irish legends and myths. In one tale, Finn McCool was bewitched by Miluchra on the summit of Slieve Gullion at the Lough of the Calliagh Bhirra. To this day the superstition survives that if you bathe in the lough your hair will turn white, apt then for a winter walk. Click here for more details...


5. Slieve Donard via The Glen River, Co. Down – 5.5 miles

Slieve Donard

This walk follows a popular route leading to the summit of Slieve Donard (850m), Northern Ireland’s highest peak and is a great winter warmer. From the coastal town of Newcastle the trail ascends through the woods along the Glen River and climbs further to the head of the river valley, high on the slopes below Slieve Donard ad Slieve Commedagh (765m). From here the path continues up to Slieve Donard offering views out towards the Isle of Man, Wicklow, Donegal, Wales and Scotland. Click here for more details...


6. The Lagan Towpath, Stranmillis to Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park, Co. Down – 6 miles

Arguably, the best time to walk the Lagan Towpath is early on a crisp winter’s morning as the mist hovers just above Belfast’s main river. When sampling this mysterious scenery it is easy to see why C.S Lewis drew so much inspiration from this special place. This section of the Towpath begins in Stranmillis, just minutes from Belfast city centre, taking walkers out along the river and canal system through a variety of wetland, riverside meadows and mixed woodland. After passing through Lagan Meadows and over Shaw’s Bridge this section of the Towpath finishes at Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park, one of Belfast’s most popular public parks, renowned for its ornamental gardens and rose trails. Click here for more details...


7. Croaghan, Co Antrim – 6.5 miles

Croaghan provides an ideal circular winter stroll rewarding walkers with stunning panoramic views over to Rathlin Island, just off the Antrim coast. At this time of year the walk cuts through blanketed hillsides and crisp forest tracks that hug the perimeter of the snow-coned Breen Forest. Once you’ve completed the walk why not reward yourself with a hot drink in the nearby picturesque port of Cushendun, where you might be lucky enough to catch a traditional Irish music night in one of the local pubs. Click here for more details...


8. Roe Valley Country Park, Co. Londonderry – 7 miles

Roe Valley Country Park

The Roe Valley Country Park offers a variety of routes along the River Roe or Red River (from the Irish ‘Abhain Ruadh’). This 7 mile walking trail circles both banks of Red River, which originates amidst the peat bogs of the Sperrins Mountains, offering an explanation for its red colour. With the path running through an enchanting oak forest, combining legend with industrial and natural heritage, the park has great appeal. Winter sees the snow settle on the river’s banks and as walkers pass through the forest it is only the call of mallard ducks that breaks the silence. In winter, Roe Valley is a truly special place. Click here for more details...


9. Robbers Table, Co. Tyrone – 9 miles

This is an excellent off-road, winter hill walk across rolling hills and frosty moorland. The highest point of this route opens up superb views of the Bluestack and Derryveagh Mounatins of Donegal to the west and the High Sperrins to the north east. As the route climbs south over Ballynatubbrit Mountain it passes Robbers Table, the site where supposed local seventeenth century Highwaymen (Rapparees as they were known) met up to divide their spoils after raiding the postal carriages that traversed this upland landscape. Click here for more details...



Chris Armstrong
Chris Armstrong  Mountain Bike Officer

Chris looks after all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland's a tough job but someone's gotta do it!

12 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Landscaping Gold Coast on September 17, 2010 @ 3:50 AM

Spectacular indeed! I love you work of art! Thanks for sharing these images and some information about it. It's so helpful indeed! All the best!

Posted by lee on September 22, 2010 @ 10:38 AM

Hi all im off the the highlands for the weekend to do some hiking, realy looking forward to it. Is there any advice i could get thankyou.

Posted by on September 23, 2010 @ 12:51 PM

where are some good places to go with my off road bike as I would like to stay within the law and keep the environment up to standard for the you guys doing the manual thing.

Posted by Flower Delivery Ireland on October 15, 2010 @ 4:09 AM

I love the photos and description of all the wee walkways

around the northwest of Ireland.

I didn't know a few of them however I will be giving them a go in the the near future,

Aanee xxx

Posted by lawn maintenance Pheonix on February 17, 2011 @ 1:56 AM

These great winter escapes inspire us to take care of our lawns and gardens. I take pride in having a yard that is immaculately maintained and have used the services of professionals for my yard's upkeep. Here's one resource I found useful for landscape and yard maintenance --

Posted by landscape services Phoenix on February 17, 2011 @ 1:59 AM

My family and I take care of our yard and gardens because it's a great place to hang out and relax. This is why during winter we take extra care of our garden and lawn. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas regarding organic lawn care?

Posted by deck builder on March 4, 2011 @ 10:20 AM

These landscapes are so inspiring that it makes me want to spend outdoors more. I have been meaning to have a patio or deck set up in my home. Anyone know any good resources for these types of services?

Posted by Cheap Van Insurance on March 29, 2011 @ 2:54 PM

I truly liked your incredible content. Please keep up the good work. Thank you very much !!!!

Posted by Holiday Homes on March 31, 2011 @ 11:33 AM

Roe Valley country park seems to me an amazing place specially the enchanting oak forest.

Posted by Janina Ebersbach on May 15, 2012 @ 2:15 PM

Thanks a lot for this wonderful review!

The pictures are truly gorgeous, so now I start burning with desire to see it all with my own eyes! Thanks for the colorful description! Castle Archdale Country Park and Slieve Donard via The Glen River are out of questions!


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