Annegret WalshAndrea HarrowerRoss Millar
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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 Dog Friendly Walks In Northern Ireland

Posted on August 28, 2019 @ 1:15 PM in Walking

Fed up walking around your local area on auto-pilot with your dog? Get a new 'leash' of life and explore one (or more!) of these fantastic dog friendly walking trails in Northern Ireland.

Dog walk Northern Ireland

Benone Strand, Co. Derry~Londonderry

We'd be barking mad to do an article on the best dog friendly walks in Northern Ireland without first mentioning Benone Strand. Forming part of one of Ireland's longest beaches, this location was voted 'Northern Ireland's Favourite place to walk your Dog' in the 2018 WalkNI Awards.  

Please note that some beaches have restrictions and zones in place for dogs in the summer months so make sure to check out the website before you visit. Between May and September, the beach at Benone can be accessed via the boardwalk through the dunes. 

Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co. Down

Located on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, Crawfordsburn Country Park boasts two excellent beaches, spectacular scenery, a stunning waterfall and tranquil walks through wooded glens. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times apart from in the designated off lead areas.

Darkley Forest, Co. Armagh

A community trail offering an enchantingly unique walking experience through a small and peaceful coniferous woodland. Discover this unspoilt hidden gem for dog walkers just a short distance from Armagh. Dogs are allowed and must be kept on a lead.

Rowallane Gardens, Co. Down

There are lots of trails to keep both dog and walker intrigued at Rowallane Gardens. The trails pass through the 19th century garden, famous today for its colourful plant collection and rugged landscape. Dogs must be kept on a lead. However, if your dog loves to run around and stretch its legs or is fond of a tennis ball then make sure to visit the outdoor exercise area where dogs are allowed to roam free from their leads.

Dog walk Northern Ireland

Montalto Estate, Co. Down

A short walk through the woodland of Montalto Estate. With lots of routes to explore you can extend this walk by exploring the trail around the lake or various gardens. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a lead.

Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim

Enjoy a walk through mature woodland past spectacular waterfalls. A change of scene from your local walk the views from the top of the glen down to the coast and the sea beyond are incredible. Dogs are allowed and should be kept on a lead.

Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh

Surrounded by lush parkland and thick woodland, choose from a number of walks all providing fantastic views. Dogs are welcome on leads in both the garden and grounds.

Peatlands Park, Co. Tyrone

Close to the southern shores of Lough Neagh and boasting over 10 miles of paths and wooden walkways, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring with your dog. The park is rich in butterflies, moths and dragonflies as well as many woodland and wetland birds and several species of waterfowl. Dogs are allowed and should be kept on a lead.

Dog walk Northern Ireland

Slieve Gullion, Co. Armagh

A challenging walk for keen walkers and their favourite four-legged friends, the views from the top are worth the climb. Rising to 573m, the 9.5 mile walk at Slieve Gullion is the centrepiece of the volcanic landscape in the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Beauty. Dogs are allowed and should be kept on a lead.

Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park, Co. Antrim

Discover one of Belfast's most popular parks. Again, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to what trail to explore in this park from garden walks to walks across open meadow there is something to suit everyone. Dogs are allowed and should be kept on a lead.

Tollymore Forest Park, Co. Down

Covering an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, Tollymore Forest Park offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at nearby Newcastle. The park has some very interesting features to look out for while on your walk including a barn dressed up to look like a church, stone cones on top of gate piers and gothic-style gate arches. Dogs are allowed and should be kept on a lead.

Heritage Railway Path, Co. Antrim

For something a bit different follow the line of the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Heritage Railway from the coastal resort of Portballintrae to the Giant's Causeway. This walk can easily be extended to provide coastal off-road access to the Giant's Causeway. Dogs are allowed and should be kept on a lead.

Please note, some locations may have signs to indicate restricted dog access or that you must keep your dog on a lead, so be sure to look out for these or call ahead to check access.  Remember to be a responsible dog owner and clean up after your pooch.

Latest comment posted by Deirdre on September 4, 2019 @ 9:34 AM

Where can i exercise my dog of lead near lisburn Read more >

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.

Coastal Walks For Summer Days

Posted on July 19, 2019 @ 12:41 PM in Walking

Northern Ireland is blessed with hundreds of miles of scenic coastline where you can experience stunning views, secret caves and golden beaches. Now that summer is here, there’s no better time to head to the coast and explore. From the rugged cliffs of the Causeway Coast to wide sandy beaches at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, there are plenty of places to check out this August. Take a look at some of our favourite coastal walks sure to inspire your next adventure.

Rathlin

Rathlin Island- Roonivoolin Walk, Co. Antrim
Take the route less travelled on Rathlin Island located a short boat ride from Ballycastle. Venture south to the RSPB Roonivoolin Reserve where you can enjoy amazing views of the coastline as well as wildlife such as seals, Irish hare and curlew.

Crawfordsburn Country Park- Coastal Walk, Co. Down
The perfect retreat on a summers day, this popular walk overlooking Belfast Lough takes in the sandy beaches of Crawfordsburn and Helen's Bay. Before reaching the beach, this walk ambles through a hay meadow which is full of wild flowers in the summer months. There is also a cafe, picnic tables and natural play area onsite.

Newcastle Way

Newcastle Way, Co. Down
This two-day, circular route offers a perfect coastal escape for those looking to explore rural County Down. The lowland terrain in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains makes it accessible to all fit walkers, while a combination of forest trails, quiet country lanes and long golden sandy beaches ensures contant scenic diversity.

Benone Strand

Benone Strand, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Voted Northern Ireland's 'Favourite place to walk your dog' in the 2018 WalkNI awards, this Blue Flag beach forms one of Ireland's longest beaches. Popular throughout the year with dog walkers and those in search of the perfect wave, a walk here offers great views along the rugged North Coast, to Inishowen in Donegal and Scotland. 

Lecale Way, Co. Down
Lecale Way extends from the heart of Downpatrick, taking in Strangford Lough and finishing in the seaside resort of Newcastle. Tower houses, castles and ancient monuments are dotted throughout its landscape and a wealth of wildlife can be discovered along the contrasting shores of Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea. An entrance fee to Castle Ward applies (National Trust Property).

White Park Bay

White Park Bay, Co. Antrim
This spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast. Its secluded location means that even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation. White Park Bay which is free to access has been in the care of the National Trust since 1938 and it remains one of the most natural coastline sites in N Ireland. The beach is backed by ancient dunes and species rich chalk grasslands, which are carpeted in rare plants, including many orchids. The site is also fossil rich with archaeological evidence everywhere.

Waterfoot Beach Walk, Co. Antrim
This short route along Waterfoot Beach encompasses beautiful wildflower meadows, two play parks, a seasonal café and plenty of picnic opportunities.

Island Hill

Island Hill and North Strangford Nature Reserve, Co. Down
At low-tide a hidden walkway is revealed allowing you to access Rough Island. This walk around the island provides magnificent views of Strangford Lough and is an excellent view point for bird watching.

Killard National Nature Reserve, Co. Down
Situated at the mouth of Strangford Lough, opposite Ballyquintin. This walk features spectaular wildflowers and a rich aray of wildlife along a pretty stretch of coastline.

If you explore any of these walks, make sure you take a picture and tag us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #WalkNI.

Latest comment posted by Angie Ness on August 24, 2019 @ 11:16 AM

Just to let any walkers know- We tried to do the Millibern walk yesterday to Croaghan but there were signs up saying that it was closed. Lovely views of the hill from the car park but no way up. :( Read more >

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.

Game of Thrones In Northern Ireland

Posted on June 29, 2019 @ 11:56 AM in Walking

You’ve been hooked on the HBO Game of Thrones Series for years, but did you know we are lucky enough to have the majority of its fantastic filming locations right on our doorstep. In this blog we share with you our top must-see locations.

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park- River Trail, Co. Down

The Forest appeared in the first season of the show as the lands around Winterfell when Ned Stark comes across the orphaned Direwolves- the symbol of House Stark- and finds there are as many pups as there are Stark children.

This 3.1 mile circular walk from the main car park follows the Azalea Walk downhill to the Shimna River. Here the trail turns up-stream along the attractive tree lined river bank past the Hermitage to cross the river at Parnell’s Bridge. There is an optional spur to the White Fort Cashel before following the Spinkwee River downstream, past the cascades and back to the Meeting of the Waters. The trail proceeds through conifer plantations, past the duck pond and crosses the Shimna River over the Old Bridge, returning to the car park via Green Rig.

Balintoy Harbour

Dunseverick Castle to Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim

This smallf harbour Ballintoy features in season two of Game of Thrones. Here Theon Grey joy returns home to Lordsport Harbour.

Ballintoy can be found on section 5 of the Causeway Coast Way. This 7.8km is best explored at low tide to allow you to walk along White Park Bay beach. From Dunseverick Castle, continue east along the coastline. One of the highlights of this walk past the limestone cliffs, rock archways and golden sand of Whitepark Bay.

Portstewart Strand

Portstewart Strand - Sand Dune & Estuary Trail, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Portstewart Strand doubled as the coast of Dorne in season five of Game of Thrones when Jaime Lannister was tasked by his sister Cersei to bring her daughter Myrcella back to King’s Landing.

This beach is owned and managed by the National Trust. The beach has the European Blue Flag award for its water quality and beach/dune management. Car parking is restricted to certain sections of the beach. What is less known about Portstewart Strand, are the towering sand dunes (containing some of Ireland's tallest dunes) and declared as an Area of Special Scientific Interest, together with the adjoining Bann Estuary. From here the Rive Bann (N.Ireland's longest river) ends its journey, on entering the North Atlantic.

Binevenagh

Binevenagh, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Binevenagh appeared as the Dothraki Grasslands in season five when Daenerys Targaryen was rescued by her dragon, Drogon, while fleeing from the Sons of the Harpy in the fighting pits of Meereen.

From the Leighery Road pass through the gate into the forest and follow the path taking the first track to the left. Follow this trail uphill for 1.5km before turning right onto forest road towards the summit of Binevengagh. Pass the west side of the trout stocked artificial lake, then head NW towards the cliff edge. Panoramic views from the summit stretch for miles. One a good day the north coast is visible, as is Scotland. The surrounding slopes are home to a number of rare alpine plants and birds. Follow the path NW down to the forest, when you arrive at a track turn right and you will soon be back at the start.

Castle Ward

Castle Ward, Co. Down

A popular pilgrimage for many Game of Thrones fans Catle Ward appeared in Game of Thrones season one as the iconic Winterfell- home of the House Stark.

Overlooking Strangford Lough this woodland estate  Castle Ward has been home to the Ward family since the 16th century. The 18th century mansion house rests on a rolling hillside overlooking the Lough and surrounded by a beautiful 820-acre walled demesne with gardens and woodland. There are a number of walking trails to explore including the Shore Trail and Castle Trail.

Marble Arch Caves

Belmore Forest: Pollnagollum Cave Walk, Co. Fermanagh

The cave featured in season three of Game of Thrones as Beric Dondarrion's hideout in The Riverlands.

Pollnagollum Cave in Belmore Forest is part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in Co. Fermanagh. The cave is fed by a waterfall and you can follow the Belmore Forest walk which leads to a viewing point for the cave. This 4.3 mile walk is located in the Boho-Belmore Mountain area, right in the heart of Fermanagh’s cave country. Beneath your feet lies an extensive maze of caves which attract cavers and potholers from far and wide to west Fermanagh. One of the most intriguing mammals found in the Belmore uplands is the Irish hare. Larger than rabbits, adult hares have black tips on their ears and their long back legs giving them a distinctive walk or ‘lope’. Depending on the time of day and year keep a watchful eye out for bats and birds around the cave entrance

Downhill Beach

Downhill Strand, Co. Derry~Londonderry

In Game of Thrones, Downhill Beach appeared in season two when Stannis Baratheon rejects the Seven Gods of Westeros and allows Melisandre to burn their effigies as an offering to the Lord of Light.

Located in the very north of Northern Ireland, the beach is part of a seven mile stretch of sand offering a wealth of activities including water sports and scenic walks. Above the beach is the prominent Mussenden Temple, one of the most photographed buildings in Northern Ireland.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh, Co. Armagh

Located in the centre of Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh was the location used to film the Summer Sea one of the major oceans of the known world south of both Westeros and Essos. Summer Islanders are a thriving civilization of sea-farers, whose merchant vessels can be found throughout the Summer Sea.

Did you know Lough Neagh is Northern Ireland's largest inland body of water.There are lots of walks to enjoy in the surrounding counties of Armagh, Tyrone, Derry~Londonderry and Antrim. However, we recommend exploring from Oxford Island a haven for wildlife and a great location to start exploring secluded bays and islands. This four mile walk offers those all important views of the 'Summer Sea'.

Sallagh Braes

Sallagh Braes, Co. Antrim

A popular stop off point for fans of the show, Sallagh Braes was used as the film location for the Riverlands, one of the consituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and a frequent battleground for civil wars 

Sallagh Braes is a stunning 1.8 mile linear walk across exposed hillside, leading to and along the edge of the Sallagh Braes basalt cliffs. Views can be enjoyed across the cliffs to the valley below and the Irish sea in the distance. Interpretation can be found in Linford Car Park. This walk follows the yellow and blue waymarkers for the Ulster/Antrim Hills Way. The view over the curving cliffs make this a very memorable piece of walking. 

Fairhead Northern Ireland

Fairhead An Bealach Runda Walk, Co. Antrim

Dragonstone Cliffs is home to many pivotal scenes from the final seasons of Game of Thrones as Daenarys Targaryen plans her re-conquest of westeros. It is here that large amounts of dragonglass can be foundd, one of only two materials that can be used to kill White Walkers; ther than being Valyrian Steel. It is here Samwell Tarly makes a game-changing discovery: Dragonstone sits atop a mine of dragon glass.

Enjoy breath-taking views from the cliff edge of Fairhead on this ruggedly beautiful, wild and remote 3.1 mile walk. Expect stunning coastal views towards Ballycastle and Rathlin Island and look down on the picturesque Murlough Bay. You’ll also pass historic loughs and open green farmland on one of the many walk options which are guaranteed to invigorate the senses. The iconic cliffs of Fairhead tower above the famous Sea of Moyle where mythology states the Children of Lir, were put under an evil spell transforming them into swans to spend 900 years in exile from humanity.

If you explore any of these walks, make sure you take a picture and tag us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #WalkNI.

Latest comment posted by The Reluctant Walker on July 1, 2019 @ 7:24 AM

Thank you Jane for information on some inspiring walks. I hope to try a few thus summer/autumn. Read more >

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.

Instagram Inspiration - 10 'Must Explore' Walks This Summer

Posted on May 30, 2019 @ 10:01 AM in Walking

When it comes to thinking of where next to walk in Northern Ireland, Instagram is full of inspiration. We have pulled together our top 10 inspiring walks to discover this summer across Northern Ireland. From the rugged Causeway stones and city views to forests and summit selfies there is a walk to suit all. Detailed route descriptions and walker comments on each of these walks can be found on WalkNI.

Giant's Causeway

#GiantsCauseway

The rugged stones of the Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim along the Causeway Coast way is a popular walk for tourists and locals alike.  Managed by the National Trust, photographers can often be seen at sunrise and sunset capturing the light dancing off the stones.

Mourne Mountains

#Mournes

One of our favourite pictures to see on #WalkNI are the 'summit selfies' that walkers take after a day exploring the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down. A popular retreat for keen walkers, the Mournes offer a range of peaks suitable for those starting out, right the way up to those with lots of experience on the more challenging peaks.  

Cuilcagh Boardwalk

#Cuilcagh

One of the most Instagrammed walks in Northern Ireland, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk in Co. Fermanagh is a must do walk for keen walkers this summer. Please note that no dogs are allowed on this trail due to the habitat you will be exploring via the Boardwalk. 

Cloughmore Stone

#CloughmoreStone

A little hill with big views, the Cloughmore Stone offers panoramic views over Carlingford Lough and the surrounding landscape. Declared a National Nature Reserve and more recently an Area of Special Scientific Interest, maximise the length of your visit by exploring the Cloughmore Stone via Fiddler's Green

Cave Hill

#CaveHill

If you are in search of spectacular city views look no further than Cave Hill Country Park, Co. Antrim. Just a stone's throw from Belfast city centre, this is a popular walk for visitors and locals alike. The views are spectacular at any time of day, however we have noticed the 'golden hour' at sunrise and sunset is a popular time of day for those in search of the perfect Instagram photo.

Scrabbo

#Scrabo

Located on the shores of Strangford Lough, The 2.3 miles Scrabo Hill Walk takes in the summit and the famous Scrabo tower built in 1857, one of Ireland's best known landmarks. The views over Strangford Lough and North Down are some of the finest in the country. The walk descends to a disused sandstone quarry before returning to the car park.

Gortin

#GortinGlens

A favourite walk amongst locals in Co. Tyrone, it isn't surprising that the walks in Gortin Glen Forest Park appear frequently on Instagram. There are a number of fantastic walks to enjoy within this forest park and more are being developed. We recommend following the Pollan Trail up the course of the Pollan Burn as it tumbles down the mountainside or the Ladies View Trail, which is ideal for those looking a more strenuous walk to superb views.

Giant's Lair

#GiantsLair

The Giant's Lair Walk in Slieve Gullion Co. Armagh brings a magical living storybook to life through a trail of intertwined fairy houses and arts features. A childhood land with dragons, giants and fairies inspired by legend and mythical folklore.

Carrick-A-Rede

#CarrickARede

Carrick-a-Rede famous for its rope bridge connecting the mainland to Carrick-a-Rede Island provides an exhilarating coastal cliff walk in Co. Antrim. Highlights of this walk include spectacular views of the rugged cliffs, Rathlin and a noisy seabird colony. Managed by the National Trust.

CS Lewis Square

#ConnswaterGreenway #CSLewisSquare

The Connswater Community Greenway provides two different routes along the Connswater, Loop and Knock River. This walk takes you through Belfast's own wildlife corridor so there is lots to see along the way. One of the highlights of this walk is C.S. Lewis Square where you can stop and explore the seven sculptures inspired by the characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Don't forget to share pictures from your favourite walks with us on social media using #WalkNI.

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.

Best Bluebell Walks In Northern Ireland

Posted on April 29, 2019 @ 11:07 AM in Walking

It’s that time of year when it’s all about the Bluebells! These pretty little flowers have started to make an appearance across Northern Ireland's countryside and forest floors. To help you discover new and exciting walks with some of the best bluebell displays check out a few of our favourite spots below.

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down
There are around 5 miles of bluebell trails waiting to be discovered in this stunning 820 acre demesne complete with 18th century mansion and over 13 miles of multi-use trail. 

Minnowburn and Giant’s Ring, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Wander through the woods in spring to see a haze of bluebells at this tranquil refuge next to the Lagan river.

Downhill Demesne, Castlerock, Co. Derry~Londonderry
A magnificent clifftop walk, affording rugged headland views across the North Coast. Discover Mussenden Temple and the striking 18th-century ruins of Downhill mansion. 

Scrabo Hill & Killynether Wood, Newtownards, Co. Down
Enjoy some of the best views over Strangford Lough and North Down from the iconic Scrabo Tower, one of Northern Ireland's best known landmarks built in 1857 before indulging in a woodland walk.   

Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim 
Specular waterfalls, breath-taking glens and wild woodland scattered with bluebells await. 

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Clare Glen, Tandragee, Co. Armagh
A delightful walk along the banks of the River Cusher in County Armagh. Hazel is abundant, with oak, ash and wych elm over a stunning ground layer of wood anemone, wild garlic and bluebells as well as several different species of orchid.

Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh
An 18th century mansion surrounded by ancient wood where you will be captivated by a carpet of native bluebells. 

Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down
One of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails the forest park comes alive in Spring. 

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Murlough National Nature Reserve, Co. Down
Home to one of the most stunning beaches in County Down with paths running through the dunes and heathland you’ll witness carpets of wildflowers in spring.

Mount Stewart Newtownards, Co. Down
The mild climate around Mount Stewart with its recently restored neo-classical house allows a wide range of plants to grow, from the Mediterranean specimens to the bluebells which are the stars of the show in Spring.

If you spot Bluebells on your next walk make sure to send us your pictures using #WalkNI on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

Latest comment posted by Rosie Smyth on May 1, 2019 @ 6:01 PM

Portglenone forest is bluebell stunning Read more >

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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