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

Top things to see at Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park

Posted on April 13, 2017 @ 9:32 AM in AdventureWalking

Discover Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park just a stones throw from Belfast City Centre. Donated to the people of Belfast in 1959 by Lady Dixon in memory of her late husband, Sir Thomas, the park covers more than 128 acres and boasts rolling meadows, woodland and gardens.

With 3 newly signed routes, a coffee shop full of delicious treats and fantastic playpark to explore we've picked out some of the top things to see during your visit. 

The International Rose GardenRoses Belfast

The International Rose Garden has made the park world famous, and contains over 20,000 blooms in the summer, the garden also displays the best of the roses from local breeders. Each year thousands of visitors enjoy the rose gardens and associated events during Rose Week in July. In addition, the garden has trial and display beds of cluster and large flowered, miniature, shrub and climbing roses as well as a Princess Diana memorial garden

The Japanese GardenJapanese Garden

The Japanese-style garden with water features for quiet contemplation is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the City.

Golden Crown FountainGolden Crown Fountain

Commissioned for the Queen's Golden Jubilee The Golden Crown Fountain is a hidden gem within the park for those exploring the newly signposted Garden Trail.

The Magnificent MeadowMeadow Trail

The newly signposted 1.78 mile meadow walking trail follows the parks perimeter and is perfect for those looking to enjoy the flora and fauna on offer in the magnificent meadows filled with orchids, peedweeks, clovers and hayrattle.

The Woodland
Woodland Walk

The new 1.93 mile woodland walking trail takes you through dense woodland before rewarding  you with a spectacular view over the entire park.

Wilmont House
House

In the mid-1800s, the estate was bought by the Bristow family. Wilmont House was built as the family home, designed by Thomas Jackson and completed in 1859. 

The park is also a great base for exploring Lagan Valley Regional Park if you want to keep exploring.

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.

5 Reasons to go to the Mourne International Walking Festival

Posted on March 9, 2017 @ 2:45 PM in Walking

A fantastic opportunity to explore the Mourne Mountains for the first time or try out new routes and challenge yourself. Taking place between Friday 23rd & Sunday 25th June 2017.

Here are 5 reasons why this award winning festival ('Best Walking Festival' 2016 in the WalkNI Awards) should not be misses this summer.

Mourne International Walking Festival

1. Spectacular Scenery

Attend the festival and you’ll get to witness views like this first hand (and trust us they’re even more breath taking in real life!) The Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion offer some of the best walking in Ireland with epic views, diverse wildlife and a landscape steeped in fascinating heritage, myth and legend.

Explore Slieve Gullion home to ancient burial cairns, take in the stunning reservoir views of Ben Crom and Silent Valley from Slieve Binnian and Doan or follow the Ulster Way through forest and country lanes and witness the stunning landscape of Rostrevor and Warrenpoint. With 10 walks to choose from both guided and self guided from 9 to 20km, whether you’re new to hiking or a seasoned pro now is the time to explore the Mourne Mountains and witness the best of what it has to offer! 

Image: David Doyle Photography

2. It’s a Bargain- Only £6 a Day

It's only £6 a day if you pre-book your place, at that price, it would be rude not to! Price includes transport to and from walks and guides where necessary. Pre-booking also means you can use the 'fast track' registration system on the day so there will be no hanging back in queues. Thinking of getting a group together or want to head to the festival as a club? Discounts are available on bookings of 10 or more participants, contact the Festival Office on +44 (0) 28 4372 2222 or email info@visitmournemountains.co.uk for more info. Registration is also available on the day for an increased cost.

3. It’ll be Great ‘Craic’

A festival wouldn't be a festival without a good party. After a day in the hills enjoy the many bars and restaurants in Warrenpoint and don't miss out on the highlight of the weekend ‘The Blister Ball’. Held in the Lough and Quay, Marine Parade, Warrenpoint on Saturday 24th June, enjoy an evening of ceili and set dancing to traditional music as well as a hot buffet supper (Entry is £12/€15 and pre booking is advisable). 


4. It's not far from Belfast or Dublin

Just 1hr from Belfast and 1hr 30 mins from Dublin by car you'll be in the mountains in no time! With a wide range of walker friendly accommodation nearby make the most of the weekend and variety of walks on offer. Check out WalkNI.com or visitmournemountains.co.uk for a list of walker friendly accommodation.

5. Free T-Shirt for all walkers!

Who doesn’t love a freebie? All festival goers will be given a t-shirt to remember the event.

For more information visit www.visitmournemountains.co.uk/Mourne-International-Walking-Festival. For walking routes and further information please contact the Festival Office on +44 (0) 28 4372 2222 or email info@visitmournemountains.co.uk

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 10 Mother's Day Walk Ideas

Posted on March 7, 2017 @ 4:15 PM in Walking

With Mother's Day just around the corner we have some suggestions of how you can make the day extra special! With the long-awaited arrival of Spring finally here and plenty of blue skies, it’s time you and your family enjoy a new season treat and some family time in the great outdoors. 

 Gortin Lakes Northern Ireland

The majestic lakes of Gortin provide the perfect backdrop to any picnic offering spectacular views across the Sperrins landscape. Location: Gortin Lakes, Co. Tyrone

Waterfalls Northern Ireland

What would you wish for if you had the chance? The breathtaking beauty of Northern Ireland's largest waterfall in Glenariff is sure to leave everyone in amazement. Location: Glenariff Waterfall Walk, Co. Antrim

Florence Court Northern Ireland

Make her feel like royalty for a day during a visit to one of Northern Ireland's Stately homes. There is something to keep everyone entertained whether it be a tour of the house, a stroll around the walking trails or exploring the play park. Location: Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh

Mount Stewart Northern Ireland

Forget about walking around a garden centre and come and explore the beautiful secret gardens of Mount Stewart. The garden exudes a strong Mediterranean feel, while the woodland supports a range of plants from all corners of the world. Location: Mount Stewart Lake & Garden Walk, Co. Down

Bird watching Northern Ireland

A whole new world of discovery awaits you and your family on the shores of Strangford lough. Meet some of the world's most endangered birds before your little explores enjoy the adventure playgrounds. Location: Castle Espie, Comber, Co. Down

Take in the views

For mountain views without the mountain climb the Slievenaslat Trail is perfect for a Mother's Day Walk. The viewpoint at the top offers one of the most spectacular views of the Mourne Mountain Range so remember to bring your camera! Location: Slievenaslat Trail, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down

Botanic Gardens Belfast

For those visiting the Ulster Museum this Mothers Day, take a stroll around the iconic Botanic Gardens. Explore the Victorian Greenhouse before discovering the blossoming spring flowers growing in the gardens. Location: Botanic Gardens, Belfast, Co. Antrim

 Victoria Park Belfast

Escape to an oasis of calm just a stones throw from Belfast City Centre. Recently redeveloped as part of the Connswater Community Greenway project, the park has become popular with locals and visitors alike. Location: Victoria Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Whitemark Bay Northern Ireland

For those heading up to the spectacular Causeway Coast for the day, take some time to stroll along the white sandy beach of Whitepark Bay. Location: Whitepark Bay, Co. Antrim

Tollymore Forest Park Northern Ireland

If she is a fan of Game of Thrones she will soon recognise this location. Follow the river trail taking some timeout to explore the ivy-covered hermitage before hop, skipping and jumping your way across the stepping stones. Location: Tollymore Forest Park River Trail, Co. Down

For even more ideas check out WalkNI.com

 

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 Snowdrops in Northern Ireland

Posted on February 10, 2017 @ 2:47 PM in Walking

A sign of the start of Spring these pretty little white flowers can transform landscapes and give a whole new experience to your walk.  Here are our top spots to enjoy beautiful displays of snowdrops on a crisp winter walk:

Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down

Castle Ward National Trust Elaine Hill

Image Credit: National Trust / Elaine Hill

Springhill House, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Springhill

Argory, Dungannon, Co. Armagh

argory

Castle Coole, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

Castle Coole

Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, Co. Down

Rowallane Garden

Barnett Demesne, Belfast

barnett demesne

Keep an eye on the National Trust Website for lots of great snowdrop events happening at the properties over the next month. 

We’d love to see your snowdrop sightings when you’re next out walking.  Use #walkni on Instagram or @walkni on Twitter and Facebook.   

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!

8 Best Places to go Walking this Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 8, 2017 @ 2:50 PM in Walking

Somewhere Magical - Glenariff Waterfall Walk, Co. Antrim

Glenariff Forest Park 

Somewhere Breath Taking - Slieve Binnian, Mourne Mountains, Co. Down

Image: Ryan Simpson Twitter: @rsimpsonphoto  

Somewhere Peaceful – Castle Caldwell Forest – Rossergole Point, Co. Fermanagh

castle caldwell

Somewhere Above the Clouds – Slieve Bearnagh, Mourne Mountains, Co. Down   

Bearnagh

Photo: Hibernia Landscapes by Stephen Wallace Twitter: @hiberniaphoto 

Somewhere by the Seaside – Ballintoy, Co. Antrim

Ballintoy 

Image: Chris Ibbotson Photography Facebook: @chrisibbotsonphotography

Somewhere Secluded - Blessingbourne Estate Woodland Walk, Co. Tyrone 

Blessingbourne

Somewhere Away from it all – Divis and the Black Mountain, Belfast  

Divis

Somewhere by the Shore - Island Hill & North Strangford Nature Reserve, Co. Down

island hill strangford

Image: Chris Ibbotson Photography Facebook: @chrisibbotsonphotography

Happy Valentine'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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