Welcome to our walking blog. The aim of this blog is to give readers a further insight into walking in Northern Ireland. The blog will cover everything from seasonal walking suggestions and events to information on how to best practice ‘Leave No Trace’ techniques and walk responsibly in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We will also be inviting local accomplished mountaineers and industry experts to give their thoughts and opinions into Northern Ireland top walking spots and other trails more off the beaten track.

For your definitive guide to walking in Northern Ireland visit www.walkni.com

Ulster Way Highlights- The Mourne Way

Posted on November 21, 2017 @ 11:22 AM in Walking

The brainchild of Wilfred Capper MBE who in 1946 had the inspiration to create a circular walking route through the six counties of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Way covers some of the best landscapes NI has to offer. Made up of a number of quality walking sections you don't have to complete the entire route in one go. In this upcoming series of blogs, we will be highlighting the key quality sections worth exploring in just 2 or 3 days.

Mourne Way

The 26-mile long Mourne Way is a marvellously varied, two-day walk from the coast at Newcastle across the edge of the Mourne Mountains, and back to the sea at the opposite side of the range. This route explores the foothills of the Mournes following following forest trails and mountain tracks, ensuring you experience the magnificent views without the major climbs.

Mourne Way

Walking The Mourne Way

Day 1: Newcastle to Ott Car Park, 8 miles (12.8 km)
Following the Shimna River out of the bustling seaside town of Newcastle the route heads towards Tollymore Forest Park. Oak wood from this forest was the preferred material for the interiors of the mighty White Star shipping liners, including the ill-fated Titanic built in Belfast in 1911. From here you will soon reach the ‘Brandy Pad’ an old smuggler’s trail which leads to Fofanny Dam Reservoir the first of two important reservoirs in the area. With an underground water treatment works capable of processing 52 million litres of water a day. This days walking finishes not far from here at Ott car park.

Mourne Way

Day 2: Ott Car Park to Rostrevor, 18 miles (29 km) 
The 2nd day of walking begins at the saddle between Butter Mountain and Spelga Mountain. Crossing the Rocky River before making your final descent down into Rostrevor village with spectacular panoramic views out over Carlingford Lough

Walker’s Highlight: 

“Having walked up Butter Mountain, along the Mourne Way, the highlight for me is descending Spelga where the views really open up along the valley at Spelga Pass. Beneath, the River Bann meanders from its source near Slieve Muck, through Spelga Dam and on to Lough Neagh. It’s a great point to view the next section of the walk heading around Hen Mountain and on towards Rostrevor”. WalkNI.com Development Manager Clare Jones

Mourne Way

Where To Stay

There are a wide range of walker friendly B&Bs, guesthouses, hotels and hostels in Newcastle and Rostrevor, at both ends of the Mourne Way. We recommend choosing one place to stay and availing of transport on each day of your walk. The popular Meelmore Lodge offers hostel accommodation, camping and a coffee shop approximately 7.5 miles (12km) along the route. More accommodation information can be found on pg. 17 of the Mourne Way Guide.

Where To Eat

After a hard days walking, some good food and drink is a must. A list of great suggestions can be found on pg. 20 of the Mourne Mountain Walkers Guide including Niki's Kitchen, Newcastle a great place to pick up a packed lunch to enjoy later on the hills and Kilbroney Bar, Rostrevor which promises great atmosphere and entertainment.

Getting Around

There are a number of ways in which you can travel around the Mournes ideal for those who wish to base themselves in one location and avoid the hassle.

Translink operate a dedicated Mourne Rambler bus service through the Mournes in the summer months only. Other bus services are available in the area and can be planned using the Translink Journey PlannerMournes Shuttle Services (AIMSS) is a bespoke shuttle and support service available to walkers. For more information or to book, contact Peter Magowan on 075 16412076A number of local taxi companies can pick up and drop off at the start and end of your walk each day. For contact details on all of the above please check out pg. 20 of the Mourne Mountains Walkers Guide.

Mourne Way

Please be aware that this walking route passes through areas of open land such as hillside, working farmland and working forests. Livestock may be present, ground conditions may be uneven or wet underfoot and all forestry signage should be adhered to. Please refer to the ‘Walk Safely and Responsibly’ Guide.

Although this walk is waymarked walkers are always advised to carry the relevant map and ensure they are prepared for changeable weather.

More information on this walk can be found for free in the downloadable Mourne Way Guide.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

Off the Beaten Track- Walks in the Sperrins Gateway

Posted on November 14, 2017 @ 11:32 AM in Walking

The Sperrins Gateway located south-east of Co. Derry~Londonderry remains an undiscovered gem for many in Northern Ireland. Hosting spectacular scenery, untouched countryside, rolling hills and green fields walking here is sure to give you the scenic escape you're looking for.

Sperrins Gateway

Hudy's Way, 5.8 miles circular, Moneyneany, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Boasting stunning scenery, this fully waymarked trail is well worth exploring. The trail which can be explored in either direction follows a mixture of winding country roads past the derelict clachan of Crockataggard and rural field track past several old but atmospheric farmstead ruins.  

Crockbrack Way, 7.2 miles circular, Moneyneany, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Those in search of superb panoramic views will not be disappointed by this walk. Key features on this walk include a large glacial erratic composed of folded, contorted and very ancient schist rock. You will also pass extensive deposits of blanket bog and discover the hidden mountain lough of Lough Ouske on the northern slopes of Slievevaddy (Sliabh an mhadaidh- mountain of the dog). 

Sperrins Gateway
Pictured above breath-taking views from the slopes of Mullaghmore

Moydamlaght Forest- Eagles Rock Trail, 4 miles circular, Draperstown, Co. Derry~Londonderry
This trail will lead you through a conifer forest climbing up the slopes of Mullaghmore to the stunning rock face of Craig-na-shoke. Here you will be rewarded with extensive views over the surrounding hills and countryside with the summits of Benbradagh, Binevenagh and the Inishowen peninsula coming into view as you go higher. 

Reubens Glen, 0.6 miles linear (one way), Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
The short trail at Reuben’s Glen follows a beautiful ancient coach road that once linked the plantation towns of Draperstown and Moneymore in the early 17th Century. The last remaining identifiable part of what was once an important thoroughfare the trail will follows a small river through a mixed woodland.

Springhill House, Various Walks under 1.1 miles (walks can be combined), Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
There are 3 trails to choose from within the enchanting grounds of Springhill owned by the National Trust. Explore the mixed woodland, walk through a wildflower meadow, stop at an enchanting tree door to see if anyone is home and uncover clearings full of natural play sure to capture the imaginations of children and adults alike. Beyond this you have the option to explore the perimeter of the estate or take a stroll along the spectacular avenue of Beech Trees which provide stunning colour throughout the year, from vivid green in the spring to rich reds in the autumn.

Springhill
Pictured above Springhill courtesy of Tyrone and Sperrins destination

Share with us your favourite walks to put in future blogs using #WalkNI on social media.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's Walking Wonders

Posted on October 12, 2017 @ 11:00 AM in Walking

Northern Ireland is renowned worldwide for its lush emerald green landscape and spectacular rugged coastline (much of which has featured in Game of Thrones). However, we want to share with you some locations you may not have uncovered yet with our handpicked selection of walks we believe are sure to leave you in awe and wonder, whether they are natural, historic, manmade or full of wildlife.


Natural Wonders

From striking granite tors to rushing waterfalls and volcanic landscapes these walks are full of natural wonder.

Bearnagh and Meelmore

Bearnagh & Meelmore, The Mourne Mountains, Co. Down, 6 mile circular route
One of the most distinctive mountains in the Mournes, Slieve Bearnagh (739m) is renowned for the granite tors on its summit. Slieve Meelmore (704m) is also included in this walk, creating a circuit with superb views on a good day stretching as far as the Sperrins, Lough Neagh and Strangford Lough. Image (left) credit: David Doyle Photography

Cranny Falls

Cranny Falls, Carnlough, Co. Antrim, 1.2 mile linear (one way) route
Just a stone's throw from the scenic Causeway Coastal Route, this lovely walk along the old railway line to the limestone quarry offers fantastic views of Carnlough Bay. A short walk from the quarry through the nature reserve will lead you to the beautiful Cranny Falls cascading over the rocks into the tranquil pool below. 
Image (right) credit: Steven Hanna Photography

Glenariff

Glenariff Nature Reserve Waterfalls Walk, Glenariff, Co. Antrim, 1.5 mile circular route
Glenariff, meaning ‘Queen of the Glens’, is widely regarded as the most beautiful and striking of the 9 Glens of Antrim. Boasting rich woodland and steep glacial features, the crowning glory has to be the impressive double-drop of the Ess-na-Larach Waterfall one of the many dramatic waterfalls that punctuate the deep sided gorge of the Glenariff Glen Nature Reserve. The waterfalls provide a distinctive atmospheric noise to any walker who chooses to explore this stunning part of Northern Ireland.

Slieve Gullion

Slieve Gullion, Forkhill, Co. Armagh, 9.5 miles circular
Centred on the craggy heather covered hills of the Ring of Gullion (AONB) a circular ring dyke volcano that erupted over 50 million years ago, Slieve Gullion rises to 573m and is the centrepiece of this volcanic landscape. . It has a rich association with Irish myth & legend. In one tale, Finn McCool was bewitched by Miluchra on the summit of Slieve Gullion at the Lough of the Calliagh Bhirra and to this day the superstition survives that if you bathe in the lough your hair will turn white. The walk begins in in the forest park following a forest road uphill to provide great views of the Ring Dyke.

Manmade Wonders

There are many manmade wonders that you need to see to believe, discover trainquil surroundings in a mountain top location.

Reservoir Views

Reservoir Views, Annalong, Co. Down, 9.3 miles linear (one way)
Tucked into the spectacular Mourne Mountains you will find the tranquil waters of the Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs. Supplying Belfast with piped water the walk here links the south Mournes to Newcastle via Slieve Binnian, Slievemalagan and the Glen River. Impressive views of Slient Valley Reservoir can be enjoyed from Slieve Binnian and of Ben Crom Reservoir from Slievelamagan. A tough but rewarding walk in the high Mournes.
Image (right) credit: David Doyle Photography

Historic Wonders

Discover the ancient past of Northern Ireland explore castle ruins, 18th Century towers and follow the trail of a historical railway.

Tully Castle Loughshore Walk

Tully Castle Loughshore Walk, Derrygonnelly, Co. Fermanagh, 1.2 miles circular
This charming walk takes in the grounds of Tully Castle with commanding views of the castle ruins and the surrounding countryside. Located on a small headland jutting into the Lower Lough Erne this fortified house and bawn built during the plantation era in the early 17th century is sure to impress. The path goes around the headland through deep woodland with a delightful mixture of broadleaved trees dominated by ash and beech. The undergrowth glows a vibrant green with mosses, lichen, wood sorrel, orchids, blue bells and ferns carpeting the ground in different seasons. 
Images credit: Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark

Heritage Railway

Heritage Railway Path, Portballintrae, Co. Antrim, 1.5 miles circular
Following the Bushmills Heritage Railway famous for the world's first commercially run 'hydro-electric' powered tram system this walk takes in stunning coastal scenery against the backdrop of the River Bush, Runkerry Strand and the Giant's Causeway. This walk can easily be extended to provide coastal off-road access to the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site.

Springhill

Springhill House Sawpit Hill Walk, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry, 1.1 miles (circular)
Take a stroll through the beautiful grounds of Springhill Estate. A location steeped in history, the Sawpit Walk takes you through the woodland to an 18th Century corn mill tower. From here take a moment to enjoy the view down the beautiful avenue of Beech trees, where on a clear day you can see the Sperrin Mountains and Slieve Gallion.

Wildlife Wonders

Amazing places to discover wildlife including migrating Brent Geese and Red Squirrels.

Lough Foyle Trail

Lough Foyle Trail, Limavady, Co. Derry~Londonderry, 10.4 miles linear (one way)
A sheltered haven on the Atlantic coast, a refuge for sailors, wintering birds, breeding seals and walkers. This is a flat, off-road walk and the expanse of Lough Foyle can be viewed on the other side of the sea wall. Depending on tide levels, you will see various waders and wildfowl (including Brent Geese in winter) feeding on the mudflats at the river mouth. 

Castle Archdale

Castle Archdale Tom's Island Walk, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh, 1.8 miles circular 
The mixed 520 hectare broadleaved and coniferous lowland forest in Castle Archdale located on the eastern shores of Lower Lough Erne is a forest richly varied in terms of views, features and includes ruined castles, WWII docks & buildings, ancient woodland and views over the Lough a number of Islands. On a walk through the forest keep a watchful eye (and ear) out for the rustling and quick dash of Red Squirrels overhead. 
Image (left) credit: Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark

Kiltonga Nature Reserve

Kiltonga Nature Reserve, Newtownards, Co. Down, 0.6 miles circular
This short accessible lakeside pathway is ideal for those wishing to take a closer look at swans, mallards, little grebe, moorhens and coots from the observation area.

Share with us your favourite walks to share in future blogs using #WalkNI on social media.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

Top Places to Spot Red Squirrels

Posted on October 4, 2017 @ 3:16 PM in Walking

With their reddish-brown fur and love of nuts, red squirrels are among our best loved woodland animals. The only species of squirrel native to the UK, they are most commonly found in woodlands, particularly coniferous.  As they gather up extra food in the Autumn months, prime spotting times are morning and late afternoon when they are most active.  An elusive animal, they spend much of their time in the tree canopy so be sure to keep an eye out above!

To increase your chances of spotting a red squirrel on your next walk, we have put together a list of the top places to spot them this autumn:

Co. Antrim

Glenariff Forest Park 

Cregagh Wood 

Straidkilly 

Co. Down

Mount Stewart 

Tollymore Forest Park 

Kilbroney Forest Park 

Co. Fermanagh

Castle Archdale Country Park 

Ely Lodge 

Florence Court 

Co. Tyrone

Gortin Glen Forest Park 

Co. Armagh

Slieve Gullion 

Since the introduction of grey squirrels in the 1870s, numbers in the UK have fallen dramatically. There are currently seven squirrel action groups in Northern Ireland with the aim of protecting and helping to maintain the population of red squirrels.  If you’d like to join a group or report a red squirrel sighting make sure to get in touch! Details of all groups can be found at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/red-squirrel-groups-northern-ireland

Latest comment posted by Brendan on October 19, 2017 @ 2:13 PM

Hi Sarah Nice one. One wee point. Grey squirrels were introduced to this country in 1911, one hundred years before you joined Outdoor Recreation. They can't swim across the sea from either ... Read more >

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!

Little Hills with Big Views

Posted on September 19, 2017 @ 11:49 AM in Walking

A chance for you to experience mountain top views and spectacular scenery without too much of a climb!  You don't always have to summit the highest peaks to see the best sights; there are lots of exciting little hills with big views across Northern Ireland waiting for you to explore. Here are our top short walks (under 5 miles) with fantastic views.

Slievenaslat Trail, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down

2.7 miles circular

Castlewellan Forest Park

Located in Castlewellan Forest Park in the foothills of the spectacular Mourne Mountains, climb through the forest at your own pace enjoying a series of viewpoints offering panoramic views of the Mournes, Castlewellan Castle & lake as well as the surrounding drumlin landscape of Co Down. There is a steep section at the start of this walk but what goes up must come down and it is definitely worth it!  The route takes place on hilly woodland trails and includes steps in sections.

Cloughmore Stone, Rostrevor, Co. Down

0.4 miles linear (one way)

Cloughmore Stone

Located 230m above sea level the walk to Cloughmore Stone provides spectacular views of the surrounding forest and over Carlingford Lough. The area has been declared a National Nature Reserve and more recently an Area of Special Scientific Interest. The trail is moderate with a short steep uphill section - a great one to encourage the kids on for a first climb! 

Avish to Eagles Hill, Co. Derry~Londonderry

3.1 miles circular

Manannan Mac Lir

A refreshing walk along the cliff top overlooking Benone Beach, Lough Foyle and the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal. This walk begins from Gortmore Point where the sculpture of Manannan Mac Lir, a sea God originating from this area can be viewed. The trail follows cliff top and trails through open field and quiet country lanes.

Viewpoint Trail, Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim

0.6 miles circular

Glenariff

Image of Glenariff by Tim Gaston on Twitter: @tgaston42

This short walk through woodland and stunning gardens offers spectacular views across 1 of the 9 Glens of Antrim. Located in the heart of the Glens of Antrim there are lots of places to explore in Glenariff Forest Park including a series of spectacular waterfalls. This walk follows forest paths which are steep in places.

Scrabo Hill, Newtownards, Co. Down

2.3 miles circular

Scrabo Hill

Built in 1857 Scrabo Tower is one of Ireland's best known landmarks. The views from the top of Scrabo hill over Strangford Lough and North Down are some of the finest in the country. Follow the trail as it descends into the disused sandstone quaries which provided building stone since Anglo-Norman times. The old quarries have major geological importance and have been designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest. The walk follows tarmac and off road paths which are steep in places.

Magho Cliffs Walk, Lough Navar Forest, Co. Fermanagh

1.3 miles linear (one way)

Lough Navar Forest Park

Part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, this walk takes you across the tops of the Magho Cliffs which offer great panoramic views of the surrounding area. The walk returns along the cliff top path twisting and winding its way through the woodland. The trail is made of compact gravel with steps and cross drains in places.

Divis Summit Trail, Belfast, Co. Antrim

3 miles circular

Divis Mountain

Offering spectacular panoramaic views over Belfast, Divis is the highest summit in the Belfast Hills. The walk which takes place on stone pitching is designed to maintain the condition of the mountain slope while providing public access. There is lots to explore in this location including the Ridge trail and stopping by the Long Barn Cafe managed by the National Trust for a cup of coffee after your walk.

Latest comment posted by Ronnie Irvine on September 24, 2017 @ 9:15 AM

Nice selection, Jane. Some Tyrone/Derry ones? Slieve Gallion summit, Mullaghmore, Crockmore & Crockbrack, Maybe a little higher but all have fairly short walks to the tops if required. ....and ... Read more >

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

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