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Best Pub Walks in Northern Ireland

Posted on October 16, 2014 @ 9:48 AM in Walking

We’ve put together our favourite walks conveniently located next to bars and restaurants so you can treat yourself to a well deserved pint or some tasty grub after stretching your legs.  With open fires, thatched roofs, home brews and award winning food all to be found enroute the scenery won’t be the only thing inspiring you to get out walking! Whether you want to work up an appetite or work off a Sunday lunch, these walks are sure to hit the spot:

Co. Antrim

Walk: Portrush to Bushmills 

Best Place to eat/drink: Bushmills Distillery or Bushmills Inn

This 6.6 mile walk (one way) from Portrush to Bushmills via Portballintrae will definitely help you work up an appetite.  Passing beach, cliff and castle there is plenty to admire along this coastal route which will take you along the sandy dunes of Whiterocks, a fabulous viewpoint towards Dunluce Castle and alongside the tracks of the Giant’s Causeway to Bushmill’s railway not to mention the jaw dropping coastal scenery along the way.  

Once you’ve reached Bushmills pay a visit to Ireland’s oldest working distillery and take in the sights and smells on a guided tour or simply enjoy the end product at the onsite restaurant and bar. Alternatively less than a mile away step back to a time steeped in charm at the luxurious Bushmills Inn.  Roaring peat fires, nooks and crannies and a gas lit bar provide the perfect setting for a drink or two. Don’t miss out on the Traditional Irish music every sat night.

Bushmills Inn

Walk: Lagan Towpath 

Best Place to eat/drink: Hilden Brewery

A tranquil riverside route, this continuous flat off-road path links the two cities of Belfast and Lisburn.  Starting from Stranmillis, just minutes from Belfast City Centre, the walk follows the river and late 18th century canal system through a variety of wetland, riverside meadows and mixed woodland. Your map readings skills don’t have to be great - just follow the water! Once in Lisburn, simply hop on the train back to Belfast. 

After walking the 11 miles from Belfast you will be greeted with the welcome sight of Hilden Brewery. A family run microbrewery take a tour or enjoy one of their many home brewed ales over a relaxed lunch or dinner in the Tap Room restaurant.

Walk: North Antrim Cliff Path to Dunseverick Castle

Best Place to eat/drink: Causeway Hotel

This spectacular cliff walk follows a key section of the longer Causeway Coast Way & Ulster Way.

Nearly 5 miles in length, the walk starts from the famous UNESCO world heritage site – the Giant’s Causeway.  Along the way you will be greeted with some of the finest cliff scenery in Europe, with attractively named headlands and bays such as: Port na Spaniagh, The King & his nobles, Plaiskin Head, Hamiliton’s Seat, Benbane Head, Bengore Head, Portnabrock and culminating in the largest bay of Port Moon.

Before you start pay a visit to the Causeway Hotel on the doorstep of the famous landmark.  Built in 1836, the Taste of Ulster 2014 award winning hotel has a bar lounge ideal for a drink or light bite. For more substantial local fayre visit the hotel restaurant with stunning views across the bay to the Atlantic Ocean.

pubs and walks northern ireland

Co. Down

Walk: Crawfordsburn Country Park 

Best Place to eat/drink: The Old Inn Crawfordsburn

Located on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, with two excellent beaches, spectacular scenery, a stunning waterfall and tranquil walks through wooded glens and along coastal path Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat. 

Just a ten minute walk away sink into a comfortable chair by the fire or dine in elegance in the 1614 restaurant at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn.  One of Ireland’s oldest hostelries the Old Inn has played host to many notable visitors under its thatched roof from famous author C S Lewis to former US President George W Bush.

Walks and pubs northern ireland

Walk: Murlough National Nature Reserve 

Best Place to eat/drink: The Bucks Head Inn

A fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967, Murlough Nature Reserve is a fantastic 2.5 mile long walk with stunning views of the Mournes and Dundrum Castle. 

A short 5 minute drive away situated in the historic village of Dundrum, The Bucks Head Inn is sure to give you a warm welcome.  This 18th century building has a cosy cherry panelled bar with an open fire conducive to casual intimate dining, as well as a new contemporary restaurant.

Murlough Nature Reserve

Walk: Castle Ward Estate 

Best Place to eat/drink: The Cuan

Home to a twenty-one mile network of multi-use trails through the stunning 820 acre demesne there are no shortage of walks within Castle Ward.  Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough take a stroll along the waters edge or head into the forest and explore the unique 18th century house or exotic sunken garden.

Just 2 miles away in the picturesque village of Strangford the Cuan’s excellent food and drink await for walkers where strong emphasis is placed on using fresh ingredients and sourcing local produce.

Walk: Slieve Donard via Glen River 

Best Place to eat/drink: Hugh McCanns

The Slieve Donard via Glen River (approx 6 mile) walk starts in Donard car park and climbs up through the forest to meet the famous Mourne Wall for the final steep ascent to the top. A total climb of 850m, the dramatic views of Newcastle and the sea below definitely make it worth the ascent.  

After climbing Northern Ireland’s highest peak the good news is you won’t have to go too far to find the perfect spot to rest your legs and enjoy a cold one. Situated 2 minutes walk from Donard car park Hugh McCanns is a fantastic spot to refuel and reminsence about your conquest. 

Slieve Donard Walk

Co. Derry~Londonderry

Walk: Beech Hill Trails 

Best Place to eat/drink: Beech Hill Country House Hotel

Just 2 miles from the bustling city of Derry-Londonderry you’ll find Beech Hill Country House Hotel where 3 miles of circular trails twist their way through the mixed woodland and landscaped gardens near the River Faughan, in the Faughan Valley.  A nature lovers haven, the trails first appeared on the first edition ordnance survey maps (1830-1844) and in records from the mid 19th century.  A hub of history, Beech Hill was used as a World War II camp by the US Marines who carved their names on a tree in the woods which can still be seen today.

The trails start and finish at the front of the hotel where you can enjoy a meal in the Ardmore restaurant where the menu uses only the finest and freshest of ingredients mostly from nearby farms and local fishermen with vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel’s own walled garden. Alternatively relax and unwind whiling away the hours with a drink in the bar area. 

Pub Walks Northern Ireland

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!

3 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Mairead White on October 17, 2014 @ 12:05 PM

Sarah, we have two great pubs here in the Mournes that we would like to promote. One is Doran's in Hilltown, a really old style but great hospitality and Irish music especially at the weekends. Has a big open fire and lots of stories. We have also a very quaint one in Kilkeel called Richie's but Patsie's is over the door. Old style pub also with local story tellers and local lore. Some guests of ours loved it.

Posted by paul scott on October 17, 2014 @ 3:49 PM

Very surprised the cavehill country park isnt here. Start at carrs glen park and walk to belfast casrle. Park has had a lot of work carried out by belfast city council making it a lot more accessible

Posted by Robert Miller on October 17, 2014 @ 4:40 PM

It would be great if people would post their favourite pub/grub walks here.

After a few weeks, the result could be printed by the N.I. Tourist Board.

Personally, I favour an urban weaving walk from White's to Bittle's Bar.

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