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Northern Ireland - A Walker's Winter Wonderland

Posted on December 1, 2015 @ 5:49 PM in Walking

‘Winter Wonderland’ - a phrase often used to describe Switzerland or Lapland – but if you open your eyes and get out and about in Northern Ireland this winter, you will very quickly realise that we have our very own winter wonderland right on our doorstep.  Wherever you live in this wee province, you are never much more than an hour’s drive to the mountains or the coast and the winter weather can provide some fantastic walking opportunities, not to mention the stunning subject matter for a landscape photographer like me.

Although the daylight hours are more limited, the dramatic seas or the snow covered mountains, more than make up for the shorter days.  As I have already said, you don’t have to travel far before you can experience the huge waves at Portballintrae or the snowy Mourne Mountains – even some of our tourist landmarks take on a very different appearance in the winter, due to the sun staying low in the sky. The other big advantage of getting out of your armchair and onto the beach or up into the hills, is the natural destressing effect it has on you – a crisp cold day up beside the Mourne Wall will get your blood pumping and your mind cleared – even a mug of hot soup and a cheese sandwich tastes different after you have spent the morning walking and then stop for lunch huddled out of the wind, in the winter sun. So go on - get your boots out, pack your camera and get out and enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in the world….

Mourne Mountains Snow

Mountain Men – I just love this shot – taken in Feb 2015 on a trek with a fellow photographer, we had laboured up the mountain from Donard Park in Newcastle – a very well-trodden route, but the ascent can be much slower and more difficult in the winter, not so much due to the snow but the ice underfoot.  This shot is just as I approach the Mourne wall and the figures in the image are heading on up to summit Donard.   I copped out of the Donard climb and opted for a slightly more leisurely ‘stroll’ over the wall and along the Brady Pad, an old smuggling route, and down the Trassey Track – fantastic day out – many memories made and some captured for posterity.

Divis Mountain 

Divis Ice Fields – this is not Iceland!! – it was taken on a short walk last winter at Divis and the Black Mountain in Belfast on the path up from the Divis Coffee Barn, on the Summit route – it’s not Everest but in these conditions boots and warm clothing are a must.  If I hadn’t told you where this was, would you believe you are 20 minutes from Templepatrick!


North Coast Cappuccino – taken just below the car park at Portballintrae – I choose the title as the scene reminded me of frothy coffee & I was in need of one at this point.  I had intended getting a little closer to the action but common sense prevailed and this was my preferred shot of the day at this location on the North Coast.


Divis Mountain

Blue Eyed Boy – sometimes it’s not just about the scenery.  Again only 20 minutes from Templepatrick up on Divis Mountain these wild ponies roam free on a snowy winter’s day.  This one caught my attention because of the bright blue eye colour.  Despite their wild nature, they are very approachable, so I avoided the use of a telephoto lens and was able to just walk right up to him to get my shot. 


Simply Icicles – landscapes aren’t always about the big panoramic vista – sometimes you need to get in close to capture some of the magic of nature.  This shot was taken beside an old working waterwheel and it was so cold that the mist from the water has frozen around some of the individual blades of grass on the bank – mind you it was sub-zero that day & it isn’t easy working the camera controls with the gloves on!!

Ramore Head

Big Surf – whilst summer on the North Coast can be warm & sunny, nothing really beats a good winter storm to produce waves like this up on Ramore Head, Portrush.

Belfast Castle

Our Wee Castle –  yes, Belfast has its very own castle at the foot of Cave Hill, North of the City Centre.  The castle and grounds take on a fairy-tale look when there is a sprinkling of snow. Parking is adjacent to the castle and you can also walk up to Napoleon’s Nose, Cavehill from here and stop at the coffee shop in the Castle before you get back into the car!!

Mourne Mountains Snow

Mournes Magic  - this was taken on the same day as the ‘Mountain Men’ image and is the view from the Brandy Pad that I referred to. This shot as taken about the half way point of the walk that day & for some reason I was suffering from severe cramp which was making walking very difficult – visions of helicopter rescue images started to flood my mind!  However no such drama prevailed and as the sun set, I set off for the Trassey Track and home…

Enjoy even more photos of Northern Ireland's beautiful ladnscapes at

Peter Lennon
Peter Lennon  Image Capturer

Peter is a keen photographer, focusing on landscapes, urban and pet photography. His landscape work is concentrated on the North Antrim Coast where he spent many childhood years, but is seeing some familiar places with fresh eyes after a new found enthusiasm for digital photography.

3 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by William McClean on December 4, 2015 @ 10:11 PM


These are great photos of our magical and beautiful countryside they reflect everything that is lovely in our outdoors

Posted by Ashley on December 5, 2015 @ 3:22 PM

Brilliant photographs of our wonderful coast & countryside.

Posted by Niki on October 20, 2019 @ 8:27 AM

I’m the proud owner of the blue eyed boy who now lives in Scotland.

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