The Best of Walking in Northern Ireland
Posted on January 17, 2017 @ 9:32 AM in
The results are in and we are excited to announce the winners of the 2016 WalkNI Awards showcasing the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer when it comes to walking. Be prepared to get inspired and be in awe as the winning list is revealed.
The highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland we are not surprised to see the mighty Mournes in Co. Down top the poll for favourite walking destination. Offering endless routes for walkers to experience a beautifully wild landscape with breath-taking views this compact yet impressive mountain range has a lot to offer. From the rocky outcrops on the summits and stunning reservoir views to the distinctive Mourne Wall the entire Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is simply unique.
With so many spectacular views to choose from, it was a close call but we can now announce that The Causeway Coast and Glens are officially home to the ‘Most Epic View’ in Northern Ireland. The winning view overlooking Benbane Head can be accessed from the North Antrim Cliff Path, part of the 33 mile Causeway Coast Way. Just a couple of miles from the Giant’s Causeway this stunning section of coast is less known but yet provides some of the finest coastal views in Europe. The secret is now out so make sure to get exploring this fab path with spectacular views around every corner!
Taking place every June this international walking festival organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council alternates between Newcastle and Warrenpoint each year attracting a whole of host of international visitors. With stunning routes between 10k and 40k for all levels in the mountains and surrounding countryside the guided and self-guided walks showcase the best of the area. As well as offering excellent walking opportunities, festival goers can experience the friendly local hospitality and get to know fellow walkers in the ‘Knees Up Shindig’ on the Saturday evening. Booking is now open for the 2017 festival happening in Warrenpoint so make sure you don’t miss out!
With absolutely stunning coastal views to keep you motivated, getting your certificate and badge after completing this 30km long distance walk won’t be your only reward! Organised by local walking group, the Bannside Ramblers, this annual event is known for its friendly atmosphere. The walk begins at Portballintrae, heading towards the world famous Giant's Causeway and onwards along the spectacular cliff top path to Portbradden before returning via the same route. This year the event will take place on Sunday 30th April, get it in the diary, you won’t want to miss it!
With so many route options to choose from, all with their own unique charm we envy anyone having to choose in this category! By a margain of 10%, at 853m, the highest summit in Northern Ireland peaked the poll to be crowned the public’s favourite route. Slieve Donard can be accessed via a number of routes with this particular one following the Glen River from Donard Forest Park the people’s favourite. We can go on and on about how great the view is from the summit but we think you should go see for yourself! If you’re planning on standing on NI’s highest peak in 2017, send us your summit selfies. (#walkni Instagram / @walkNI Twitter)
With sandy beaches, interesting rock formations and cliff top paths it was no surprise that the 12.5 mile Ballintoy to Bushmills route received over 40% of the vote to win the title of favourite walk in the area. A walk along this particular section of the Causeway Coast Way reveals many wonders including quaint villages and harbours such as Ballintoy and Portbraden, historical gems like Dunserverick and stunning stretches of sands in the form of Whitepark Bay.
Everyone in this category was definitely deserving of an award but it was Belfast man, Dermot Breen who walked the entire Ulster Way and then some in memory of his wife Jacqui who received the Award. Completing his long distance walking challenge over 38 days Dermot raised thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK along the way. Inspired by the book ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ (a firm favourite of the couples), in which the title character walks 627 miles to visit a terminally ill colleague Dermot (who by his own admission was no natural walker) pledged to walk even further and did so covering a distance of 652 miles, in memory of his wife. Since completing this challenge Dermot has gone on to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain raising even more money for the charity and the Great Wall of China in aid of NI Hospice. You can read about his experience here, ‘the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Dermot Breen’ or follow his walking adventures on Facebook.