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Top Walking/Picnic Destinations

Posted on February 8, 2010 @ 11:35 AM in Walking

With the spring time just on the horizon I thought I might put forward some suggestions for weekend picnic destinations for all the family. I have tried to include a good mix from country estates to spectacular coastal landscapes. We are very fortunate here in Northern Ireland as we have a plethora of unique natural environments to explore. However, in my humble opinion, these locations should be top of your list!

Castle Coole Estate

Castle Coole

This 18th century mansion located on the shores of Lower Lough Erne was designed by James Wyatt and completed in 1798 for the 1st Earl of Belmore. The interior was created by some of the leading craftsmen of the 18th and 19th century. Castle Coole is widely regarded as one of Ireland's finest Neo-classical houses. Beech Wood provides a stunning back drop to the mansion and there is a tranquil walk through this unspoilt wood. The wood was planted around 1709 with a mixed group of beech, oak and scots pine and still has oak trees dating back to the early 18th Century. There are some lovely places to stop here and have a picnic right in the middle of a natural paradise.To learn more about walks around Castle Coole click here...


Portmuck Harbour

This harbour bit of a hidden gem at the north eastern tip of Island Magee. The National Trust own and manage the coast on either side of Portmuck harbour and have provided excellent trails for visitors to enjoy the stunning coastal scenery and dramatic views out over to Scotland. This harbour is the perfect spot for a family day out with a number of walking trails to suit walkers of all ages and abilities. To find out about walks in and around Portmuck Harbour, click here


Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne


The former demesne of Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol (or the Earl Bishop), as he is still affectionately known. His building ventures at Downhill spanned the 1770s to the mid 1780s. They include his house or ‘palace’, the Mussenden Temple, Mausoleum, the walled garden, ice house & dovecote, various fish ponds, massive pillared gates and gate lodges.

The most famous of these is Mussenden Temple and this is a great spot for a picnic perching dramatically on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean on the north-western coast of Northern Ireland. This unique spot offers spectacular views westwards over Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal and east to Castlerock beach towards Portstewart, Portrush and Fair Head. The temple itself was built in 1785 as a summer library. Its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. It is dedicated to the memory of Hervey's cousin Frideswide Mussenden. Click Here for more info...


Roe Valley Country Park

Roe Valley Country Park offers a variety of routes along the riverside and through woodland. Combining legend with industrial and natrural heritage the park has great appeal. There is a 7 mile walking trail which circles both banks of River Roe or Red River (from the Irish ‘Abhain Ruadh’). 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. This winter saw the snow settle on the river’s banks but now as spring approaches the park will soon be in full bloom and the perfect spot for a picnic with all the family. Read more about Roe Valley Country Park walks here...


Mount Stewart Lake & Gardens

Mount Stewart

The famous gardens at Mount Stewart were planted in the 1920s by Edith, Lady Londenderry and have been nominated a World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk through magnificent woodlands, viewing the flora and lake, beautiful throughout the entire year.

The lake itself is seven acres in size and was created in the 1840s by Charles, 3rd Marquess, but the surroundings were not landscaped until Edith, Lady Londonderry’s time. Now the banks are planted with Primulas, Irises and other water-loving subjects, as well as the immensely large-leafed Gunneras.

The gardens contain a remarkable variety of species from all over the world such as a fine Californian Redwood and Australian Cordylines. Read more about the walk here...

In 1956, Lady Londonderry handed the gardens over to the care of The National Trust and noted “Gardens are meant to be lived in and enjoyed and I hope they may long continue to be a source of pleasure to those who visit them”. What better way to enjoy these fine surroundings than to dander around the grounds and enjoy a small picnic with your friends and family as you bask in the nature all around.


Broughshane Village

Broughshane is known as the Garden Village of Ulster thanks to its summer floral displays. Over 75,000 flowers are planted annually winning the village many national and international awards such as Ulster in Bloom, Britain in Bloom, the European Entente Florale and Nations in Bloom. Beside Broughshane is Little Acorn Wood. This is a 16-acre community woodland developed and managed by the Woodland Trust which has been created along a delightful riverside path. As you walk down this path you would expect to see the Dipper, Heron, Kingfisher, Mallard, Moorhen, Yellow Wagtail and Meadow Brown Butterfly plus a collection of exotic ducks in the pond. This picturesque part of Northern Ireland possesses a real rural community feel and is the perfect spot for a spring picnic. One lovely walk in Broughshane is called Buttermilk Bridge, click here to find out more...



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!

15 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Charles on July 26, 2010 @ 6:38 AM

You guys really have some unbelievable spots to go on a walk. Ireland is definitely going to be at the top of my list next time I make it across the pond. I was in the UK a few years ago in London, but did not venture to Ireland. Thanks for giving me the scoop on walking tours in Ireland.


Posted by Dating Rule Book on October 17, 2010 @ 2:29 AM

The interior was created by some of the leading craftsmen of the 18th and 19th century.

Posted by Meeting Women In Bars on November 19, 2010 @ 12:14 AM

The interior was created by some of the leading craftsmen of the 18th and 19th century. Castle Coole is widely regarded as one of Ireland's finest Neo-classical houses.

Posted by interior ideas on December 9, 2010 @ 9:22 AM

Wow,what places you guys have explored ,simply amazing .Castle coole has reminded me of Greenwich in London (UK).Though that is not completely like that but there are some similarities.Thanks.

Posted by Power tools on January 5, 2011 @ 2:22 PM

Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne - what a great place.It seems it is a heaven on earth.Thanks for exploring these beautiful places for us.

Posted by Flowers on January 11, 2011 @ 5:03 PM

Gorgeous views you have! There is no where to go for walks as beautiful as that around where I live. You are very lucky.

Posted by ryobi tools on January 25, 2011 @ 11:27 AM

Great pictures, Great view

Posted by contemporary rugs on February 4, 2011 @ 1:01 PM

Add a beautiful rug to a room to warm a cold space or update a traditional look. We have a massive choice of different sizes and colours.

Posted by Mobile Homes for sale on March 4, 2011 @ 9:33 AM

Wow,i would love to visit Mussenden Temple .Amazing view and amazing location.

Posted by Jack Ripper Tours on March 10, 2011 @ 2:20 PM

Amongst all three places,i would explore to go to Mount Stewart Lake & Gardens ,bit of my thingy greenery ,tress and forest,,yippyy.

Posted by Mari Ann on March 14, 2011 @ 9:42 AM

Hey, I'm amazed to hear about that location wonderful location with such appealing view.

Posted by Van Insurance Quotes on March 29, 2011 @ 2:41 PM

This is one of the good articles you can find in the net explaining everything in detail regarding the topic. I thank you for taking your time sharing your thoughts and ideas to a lot of readers out there.

Posted by dissertation on November 8, 2012 @ 7:03 AM

The temple itself was built in 1785 as a summer library. I

Posted by ????? ????? on June 20, 2013 @ 7:18 AM

nice post i love it tahnks 4 u :)

Posted by Alana on April 1, 2015 @ 1:14 PM

Anyone know nice walks in monghan

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