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

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!

The Best of Walking in Northern Ireland

Posted on January 17, 2017 @ 9:32 AM in Walking

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.

Favourite Walking Destination - Mourne Mountains 

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.  

Most Epic View - North Antrim Cliff Path, Co. Antrim 

WalkNI Awards Most Epic View

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!

Best Walking Festival - Mourne International Walking Festival

Mourne International Walking Festival

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!

Best Walk Challenge Event - Causeway Coast Challenge Walk

Causeway Coast Challenge Walk

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! 

Favourite Walk in the Mournes - Slieve Donard via Glen River 

Slieve Donard via Glen River

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)

Favourite Walk in the Causeway Coast and Glens - Ballintoy to Bushmills along the Causeway Coast Way

Favourite Walk in the Causeway Coast

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.

Outstanding Achievement through Walking - Dermot Breen (Cancer Research UK)

Outstanding Achievement through Walking Award

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

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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