Lucy CarterPaul O'ConnorAndrea Harrower
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Top 4 Mountain Climbs For Beginners

Posted on July 23, 2018 @ 12:43 PM in Walking

Sometimes the prospect of climbing to the top of a mountain can be a little intimidating to beginner hikers. The good news is it doesn't have to be - discover some of Northern Ireland's best summits with our guide to the top 4 beginner climbs.

1. Divis & The Black Mountain, Belfast, Co. Antrim


Located just a stones throw from Belfast City Centre, the trails on Divis are ideal for those looking to experience mountain views without the mountain climb. The highest point in the Belfast Hills, Divis stands at 478 metres (1,562ft) and boasts views across Northern Ireland as well as stunning panoramic views over Belfast.

The Divis Summit Trail, 3 miles circular will take on average between 50 mins & 1 hour 30 mins to complete. We recommend taking a detour from this trail and following the Divis Ridge Trail to experience more of the amazing cityscape views before re-joining the summit trail.

2. Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains, Co. Down

Slieve Donard

At 850m (2,789 ft) Slieve Donard is the highest of the Mourne Mountains. Boasting spectacular views on a clear day it is no surprise this mountain is a popular challenge for visitors and beginner hikers. We recommend those who take on this summit have a good level of fitness and wear suitable clothing and footwear for a mountain climb. Check out WalkNI: Slieve Donard Summit via the Glen River, 2.9 miles (one way) for a full route description of this trail. 

3. Cuilcagh Boardwalk (Legnabrocky Trail), Co. Fermanagh

Cuilcagh Boardwalk

One of the most popular walks in Northern Ireland, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk (Legnabrocky Trail), 4.6 miles linear (one way) provides a unique journey to the top of Cuilcagh Mountain. Situated in the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark the extensive boardwalk is most suited to those with a good level of fitness and some experience of walking in the hills. Installed to help protect the rare blanket bog from erosion this linear route is quite isolated and showcases the scenic wilderness of Cuilcagh Mountain.

The Trail meaders along a quiet farmland track before traversing a wooden boardwalk that consists of a steady climb to the mountain face. Here a stepped boardwalk climbs through steep terrain and boulder fields before reaching the summit plateau.

Please note:

  • No dogs are allowed on this walk.
  • There is no access to the summit Cairn beyond the end of the boardwalk (You will still experience the same amazing views from viewpoint).
  • There is a £5 charge for those wishing to avail of the private car park at the beginning of this walk. Alternatively, walkers can park at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre nearby.

4. Slemish, Ballymena, Co. Antrim


Follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick to the summit of Slemish (1.2 miles circular). Aside from its natural beauty, in local tradition the mountain was the site of the Saint's slavery, where he spent 6 years herding livestock fro Mulchi, the local chieftain.

This route follows grassy track from the Slemish Car Park to the base of the mountain before following rocky terrain to the summit (some 1437ft above sea level!). This short ascent is reasonably strenuous, however your efforts are more than rewarded with fabulous views that are sure to re-energise any tired legs. For a gentler descent, walk across the grassy summit and hike down the south face of Slemish. You can then traverse back across the south western side of the mountain picking up the route back to the car park.

Despite being only 1.2 miles in length this rocky ramble should take around an hour to complete, leaving plenty of time to take in the jaw-dropping views. 

For more walk ideas check out

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

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