Put on your walking shoes: there’s nothing like wrapping up warm on a cool crisp autumn day to enjoy a long walk in Northern Ireland’s great outdoors.
We’re all staying closer to home at the minute but there’s still lots to discover on your doorstep, meaning you don’t need an epic trek to have epic fun.
Plus, Discover Northern Ireland would love to see your adventures. Use #MyGiantAdventure to share your autumnal images on social media from your local area and show your support.
Our health and wellbeing are of paramount importance in these challenging times so enjoy the proven benefits of connecting with nature during an invigorating walk.
Discover Northern Ireland has compiled the following list to entice you into putting on your walking shoes.
The Argory: Take a stroll around the 320-acre wooded estate and enjoy the wonderful views over the gardens. Also, at the National Trust own estate are the woodland and riverside way-marked trails to stretch your legs and get some outdoor exercise as you enjoy the scenery along the majestic River Blackwater. The house and facilities are closed at the moment but that shouldn’t stop you from popping by for a visit with the family to enjoy the beautiful autumnal nature surrounding it.
Slieve Gullion: Enjoy a mountain walk exploring the Slieve Gullion Special Area of Conservation and the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) using mountain paths, forest trails and country roads. The AONB is an area of national landscape importance and is centred on the craggy heather covered hills of a circular ring dyke volcano that erupted over 50 million years ago. The Ring of Gullion is the most famous ring dyke in the world having featured in geological debate and theory over the past 160 years.
Hillsborough Castle Gardens: Enjoy 100 acres of world-famous Royal gardens. The autumnal colours will be especially worth a look. Try the 18th-century Walled Garden, the Lost Garden, the Granville Garden and Lady Alice’s Temple. To enable social distancing, tickets must be pre-booked and there is no restriction on how long you can stay. The castle may be closed for the winter period, but the beautiful gardens are still open for exploring.
Castle Ward: While the house may be closed at present, the surrounding garden and trails are still available to enjoy with great autumnal activities for kids. Join in on the picture-perfect Moments Trail. Across the estate try and spot the nine frames where arguably the best views are – also discover your own new ones along the way. For young nature explorers, see which species of wildlife you can spot at the National Trust cared for Castle Ward or try identifying the rare plants found here too.
Blessingbourne Country Estate: Vibrant autumnal colours are in store on a visit to Blessingbourne and now is the perfect time to explore the woods and breathe in some fresh air. With over 550 acres of grounds to walk, cycle and explore, choose your method, whether on foot, two wheels or on horseback. While you’re there, also learn about their 5* luxury pet friendly self-catering accommodation and give your pup a treat on your next holiday adventure.
Gortin Glen Forest Park: Gortin Glen Forest Park is located just six miles from Omagh at the western gateway to the Sperrin mountains. The park is made up of a network of five waymarked trails of varying lengths that start from the trailhead close to the main car park. All trails are colour coded and return to the car park. Each of the trails give the visitor the opportunity to enjoy the woodland. The forest also takes in part of the Ulster Way Walking Route.
Mussenden Temple: Mussenden Temple is located in the beautiful surroundings of Downhill Demesne near Castlerock. Enjoy this spectacular cliff top walk with stunning views along the coast. It perches dramatically on a 120ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean, offering spectacular views westwards over Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal and to the east Castlerock beach towards Portstewart, Portrush and Fair Head. The grounds at National Trust’s Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple are open for walkers keen to get out and get their daily dose of fresh air.
Ness Country Park: In the steep, wooded Glen of the Burntollet River, south-east of Londonderry, lies Ness Country Park. This area consists of 55 hectares of mixed woodland along with open parkland which extends along both sides of the Burntollet River. There are over 7km of stunning woodland and riverside walks. If visitors are lucky enough they may get the chance to experience and see the wonderful sights of the breath-taking waterfall walk.
Florence Court: About eight miles outside Enniskillen, you will find the National Trust’s Florence Court situated against the wild mountain backdrop of the Cuilcagh Mountain.
Although there is no access to the house at present, glorious grounds with a beautiful walled garden should be enough to tempt you to visit – see if you can spot the famous Florence Court Yew. You can also find 15 kilometres of trails here, more than enough to wander along and get some much-needed fresh air.
Castle Coole: Another gem in County Fermanagh and situated just outside Enniskillen is National Trust’s Castle Coole. With its wooded landscape park sloping down to Lough Coole, it is ideal for long walks. Your four-legged friend is welcome to accompany you too (dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds).
The Gobbins: What better way to blow the cobwebs off than with a walk along this exhilarating coastal cliff path? Your trip begins via a hole through a rock called Wise’s Eye. Make your way along the paths, walkways, tubular bridges and tunnels on this dramatic walk and take in the stunning views while breathing in the sea air. Your tour guide will tell the story of its creation at the turn of the 20th century. The two-and-a-half hour walking tours are capped at 10 people to enable social distancing.
The Giant’s Causeway: While the visitor centre is currently closed, the Giant’s Causeway is still welcoming people to enjoy the walk and the legendary stones themselves. Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s first UNESCO Heritage Site, is a geological wonder and home to a wealth of history and legend. Walk in the footsteps of giants – legend has it these rock formations and world-famous basalt columns were created by a giant back in the day!
n Please check booking requirements before travelling as some places require pre-booking, and many locations welcome dogs on leads, so check before you leave your dog at home.
n Please make sure you dispose of your litter responsibly. Practice social distancing and remember PPE should be placed in the general waste as it cannot be recycled.
n For further information on great outdoor activities in Northern Ireland and details on the current guidelines visit www.discovernorthernireland.com
n If you are out hiking or walking take some snaps and tag Discover Northern Ireland at #MyGiantAdventure