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Contemplating Walking the Ulster Way?

Posted on May 28, 2014 @ 11:44 AM in Walking

The brainchild of Wilfrid Capper MBE who in 1946 had the inspiration to create a circular walking route taking in the six counties of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Way is a must for any long distance walker looking for their next challenge.  The long-distance route, through some of the best landscapes Northern Ireland has to offer is definitely a challenge of a lifetime.

With this in mind we chatted to a number of people who have completed the route both in part and full to get an insight into their experiences and find out some top tips for anyone wanting to complete the route themselves. 

Ulster Way The Facts

9 Quality Sections
: 411 Miles (658 Kilometres)
6 Link Sections
: 214 Miles (342 Kilometres)

Find out the difference between a quality and link section here.

Highest Point
Cuilcagh Mt 666m - Florencecourt to Belcoo Quality Section 

Ulster Way

How long will it take me to walk the Ulster Way?

There is no way of giving one estimated time of how long it would take to walk the entire Ulster Way as this is dependent on a number of factors including your ability and speed and what arrangements you make regarding the link sections.  (We recommend that you follow the advice on our website: walk the quality sections and make use of the public transport on the link sections). 

Other factors include the weather, and whether or not you plan to walk the route in one go or take it in sections.  Depending on your fitness level it is anticipated that it would take on average 3 weeks (based on an average of 20 miles walked per day) to walk all of the Quality Sections.

Don’t just take our word, take theirs…

  •  Wilfrid the founder amazingly, at the age of 88, hiked the entire original 665 mile route in just 32 days. 
  •  Two teenagers completed the entire Ulster Way (both quality and link sections) in 2010 to raise money for Headway Northern Ireland. It took them 5 weeks and 1 day. 
  •  Claire Ferry on her journey around RSPB nature reserves completed many sections of the Ulster Way on her trip round Northern Ireland which took her 5 weeks.
  •  Others have taken anywhere between 18 months and 6 years to complete the entire route taking it in sections. 

What Should I Plan Beforehand?


Although the quality sections are waymarked, unfortunately circumstances beyond our control e.g. theft can occur and therefore it is important to always be prepared and bring a map and compass when walking the route.  You can also download route descriptions and printable maps on the Ulster Way website.

6 of the quality sections (Causeway Coast Way /  Lecale Way / Mourne Way / Moyle Way / Ring of Gullion Way / Sliabh Beagh Way) also have their own downloadable guides which may be useful when planning your route.

Ulster Way Signage Signage along the Ulster Way


It is a good idea to plan where you will stop each day so you can arrange appropriate transport and accommodation.  Many of those who we spoke to checked public transport times and had a list of taxi numbers on hand so that they could book these in advance (a list of local taxi numbers can be found in each of the way marked way guides mentioned above).  For those walking the route in sections a popular option was to drive to the start then get a taxi back to the car. 

Visit the getting around section on the Ulster Way website for details of the very useful Rambler Bus Service and Translink Journey Planner. 

Lifts and Luggage Transfer

If you prefer not to use public transport there are a couple of walking providers who offer luggage transfers and pick up and drop off services as well as arranging accommodation for parts of the Ulster Way: 

Where should I stay?
There are a range of accommodation options available along the route from B&Bs and guesthouses to self catering accommodation and hotels. Details of accommodation situated near or on the route can be found on the relevant sections on the Ulster Way Website.  You can also check out for exclusive accommodation offers for walkers.  

What Should I Bring?

As with any long distance walk the key is to keep it light! Many of the people we spoke to carried everything they needed on their back including waterproof jacket and trousers (essentials no matter what time of year in Northern Ireland!), a complete change of clothing, first aid kit, map, compass, directions, food and water.  The beauty of the Ulster Way is that it does pass through a number of towns and villages so there is plenty of opportunity to stock up on supplies however some sections are very rural so again good preparation is key!  The route is long, and not always on paths so sections can be quite muddy and over uneven terrain therefore a good pair of walking boots are essential.

Advice from those who have been there and done that…

  • Book accommodation and organise transport arrangements in advance
  • Wear high visibility clothing to be safe on rural roads 
  • Be prepared (physically and psychologically) for rain! This includes protecting the contents of your back pack 
  • Wear a bag with a hip strap for support


We asked our Ulster Way experts where their favourite section was and here’s what they had to say:

Causeway Coast Way

From [Larry Bane] to Portballintrae is some of the best walking in the world. Beautiful beaches, dramatic cliffs small harbours, waterfalls down to the sea and the world famous Giant’s Causeway.  Great walk, everyone visting NI or in fact [those that] live here should do it at least once if they can.” Stephen K, 22/04/2014

“This has to be the best long walk I have ever done. The scenery is spectacular from start to finish. The way is well-marked and for the most part, offroad and traffic free...There's something for everyone - seascapes, cliffscapes, golden beaches, verdant pastures, small towns, and world class tourist attractions along the way.” Dean Douglas, 5/09/2013

Moyle Way

"An excellent route through some of the most beautiful scenery that Ireland has to offer." The Antrim Rambler, 30/09/2013

"There is a feeling of wilderness about the trail and that is very refreshing. Beautiful views all around." Eugene Mulholland, 27/05/2013

Carl Nelkin and Ray Bondi completed the Ulster Way over a period of 18 months

Other useful links

Hikers Blog, run by a group of Irish hiking and camping enthusiasts, features a few good articles of first hand accounts of the Mourne Way, Newcastle Way, Sliabh Beagh Way and Lecale Way.  

In 2009 Ulster Walker completed the Ulster Way.  Although he completed the old version of the Ulster way (the route was updated in 2009) many parts are still the same and you can view some fantastic pictures from his walk here and read about his journey on his blog

If you decide to walk the Ulster Way make sure to tell us about your favourite bits and send through any images from your trip to we'd love to see them!

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

1 comment has been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Marg Davies on October 25, 2019 @ 12:17 AM

Tried accessing Ulster Way website for planning but found many pages not found. Am I missing a link? Is there a new more helpful website?

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