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Walk in the Footsteps of St Patrick

Posted on March 13, 2015 @ 4:08 PM in Walking

If you fancy stretching your legs and using the bank holiday for a St Patricks Day Pilgrimage, we’ve put together a list of walks all which have associations with the famous Saint for you to enjoy:  

Slemish Mountain, Broughshane, Co. Antrim (1.2 miles circular)
Slemish Mountain rises 1500 feet (437 metres) dramatically above the rural plains to the east of Ballymena. The central core of an extinct volcano, this breathtaking monolith dominates the local landscape however its value as a heritage site is entirely bound up with its association with Saint Patrick. Legend tells that Saint Patrick was captured and brought to Slemish to work as a shepherd under a man named Miluic for around six years. After his escape, many believe that Patrick planned his now famous journey back to Ireland to convert his old master and one of Patrick’s churches is thought to be at the site of the nearby Skerry Churchyard. 

SLEMISH

Lecale Way Section 1, Downpatrick to Ballyalton, Co. Down (4 miles linear)
Starting in Downpatrick, the medieval capital of County Down this 4 mile linear walk is steeped in Irish Christian heritage and is a section of the 40 mile Lecale Way stretching from Strangford to Newcastle. The walk starts outside the St Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick, an interpretative exhibition which tells the fascinating story of Ireland's Patron Saint and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland with the option to visit Down Cathedral, where Saint Patrick's remains are buried.

St Patrick Visitor Centre

Mourne Mountains, Newcastle, Co. Down
The highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains have more than one association with Saint Patrick. He is thought to have visited the Mournes on his first landings to Ireland and converted the local hill folk to Christianity and it is at the foothill of Slieve Donard, in Newcastle where popular mythology states he famously banished snakes from Ireland. Further into the mountains themselves where a small stream marks the boundary of the Kingdom of Mourne legend has it that there is a rock in the stream with Saint Patrick’s hand print from where he knelt down to drink the water. 

Slieve Donard

North Antrim Cliff Path to Dunseverick Castle, Bushmills, Co. Antrim (4.8 miles linear)
This well maintained walkway follows a key section of the longer Causeway Coast Way & Ulster Way. Nearly 5 miles in length, this section of coast from Giant’s Causeway to Dunseverick Castle is officially referred to as the North Antrim Cliff Path (& maintained by The National Trust). The spectacular cliff landscape & rich biodiversity of the coast merges effortlessly with the surrounding farmland.  Ending at Dunseverick, Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited the castle in the 5th century AD, where he baptized Olcán, a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland. Little now remains of this ancient promontory fort, which was eventually sacked by Vikings and fell into ruin, being replaced as a local stronghold by Dunluce.

Dunseverick Castle

Sliabh Beagh Way Section 1: Sliabh Aughnacloy to St. Patrick’s Chair & Well, Co. Fermanagh (7.5 miles linear)

Steeped in local myth and legend, the Sliabh Beagh Way meanders through the valleys of Co Tyrone, the drumlins of Co Monaghan and the lakeland of Co Fermanagh.  The first section begins on country lanes and will take you to St Patrick’s Chair & Well (also known as the Druids Chair and Well or St Brigid's Well or St Brigit's Well) in Altadeven Wood.  Tradition relates that St Patrick said mass in the Chair and blessed the nearby Well. However it is likely that the site's importance predates St Patrick. The name Altadaven translates as 'Glen of the Druid, or Devil' and archaeological evidence indicates that the Chair was probably also used for pre-Christian rituals.

st patricks chair and well

Gosford Forest Park, Armagh, Co. Armagh (1-4 miles circular)
Armagh is one of the few cities in the world which is home to two cathedrals both named after the same saint – St Patrick.  Located just a ten minute drive from the city centre you will find Gosford Forest Park boasting 240 hectares of mixed woodland; the perfect place to enjoy a slice of countryside near the city.  The one mile ‘Castle Path’ takes in the Arboretum which boasts a variety of individual, conifer and broadleaf tree species from around the world, some of which are over 150 years old. Alternatively the two and a half mile ‘Greer’s Trail’, takes in Dean Swift’s Well and Chair before reaching the Millpond where the gateway to the original home of the Earls of Gosford can be found.

amragh cathedral

Happy St Patrick’s Day! 

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!

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