Visit Minnowburn and you will find a paradox, a property set in beautiful countryside and yet just a couple of miles from the city centre. Nestled in the heart of the Lagan Valley Regional Park, there’s lots to see here.
The Terrace Hill Rose Garden is one of the finest viewpoints in south Belfast, with superb views across the valley to the Belfast hills.
Nearby, the Giant’s Ring is an enormous earthwork henge. It is thought to be at least 4,000 years old.
As you wander around the area, don’t miss Shaw’s Bridge, an ancient crossing that dates back to the Neolithic period.
Finally, the charming paths along the River Lagan are very popular and are great for a relaxing stroll.
n To help with the hamper: The Harrison, Belfast and Sawyers, Belfast.
Slieve Gullion is Armagh’s highest peak and a place steeped in myths and legends.
Rising some 576m above the surrounding countryside, the broad slopes of Slieve Gullion dominate the landscape of south Armagh.
The mountain itself lies at the centre of a pronounced ring of hills – the Ring of Gullion.
The Forest Park offers walking trails, a scenic drive, an adventure playpark, Giant’s Lair children’s story trail and some stunning settings to enjoy a picnic.
n To help with the hamper: Killeavy Castle Estate, County Armagh
Gortin Glen Forest Park
Located just six miles from Omagh, at the western gateway to the Sperrin Mountains, Gortin Glen Forest Park is made up of a network of five waymarked trails of varying lengths.
All colour coded and returning you back to the car park, each of the trails give you the opportunity to enjoy the woodland, nestled nicely in the beautiful peaks.
With a dedicated BBQ and picnic area, it is the dream destination for a good walk and a pit stop. Better yet, the views are superb, even on a rainy day.
n To help with the hamper: Blessingbourne Country Estate
Castle Caldwell Forest; Castle Scenic Walk
The Castle Scenic walk is part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark but takes you off the beaten track and provides some great places to enjoy a picnic immersed in nature.
The walk takes in man-made and natural wonders, including a lime-kiln which hints at the association of the Caldwell Estate with the nearby Belleek Pottery, a half-moon limestone bench along the shoreline and the eerie ruins of Castle Caldwell.
Fancy a picnic topped with a dash of history? This lesser known forest features wonderful riverside walks and an arboretum.
With a two-mile forest drive to panoramic views over Carlingford Lough, the forest drive leads to a car park from where walkers have the opportunity to climb to Cloughmore or ‘the big stone’, a 30 ton erratic, which sits at approximately 1,000ft above Rostrevor.
Geologists explain its presence here as having been deposited during the ice age. Local folklore claims it was thrown here by Finn Mac Cool during a fight with a Scottish Giant.
n To help with the hamper: Horseshoe Cottage at Traceys Farmhouse Kitchen and Fish & Farm, County Down.
Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House
Antrim Castle Gardens are an absolute historical gem.
These 400 year old gardens are perfect for a stroll as you walk into the past around this magnificent setting, visiting beautiful features such as the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pond.
Within the heart of the Gardens is a unique visitor experience, the refurbished Clotworthy House.
Visit the Garden Heritage Exhibition where you can read about the history of the gardens and the story of the Massereene family.
Springhill has a fascinating spirit that captures the heart of every visitor.
Described as ‘one of the prettiest houses in Ulster’, its welcoming charm reveals a family home with portraits, furniture and decorative arts that bring to life the many generations of Lenox-Conynghams, who lived here from 1680.
Beautiful walled gardens and way marked paths through the parkland provide the destination for a dander after filling up on some grub.
n To help with the hamper: Bishops Gate Hotel, County Londonderry, and Legenderry Food Network, County Londonderry.
Remember to care for your environment and your surroundings by bringing your litter home with you or placing in the bins provided.
To help make your trip as run as smoothly as possible, Discover Northern Ireland has put together five top tips for visitors to be aware of:
n It is essential to pre-book and to check availability directly with each provider and to be aware of each venue’s cancellation policy when booking;
n When planning a trip, consider how to avoid traffic congestion by travelling at quieter times such as weekdays, be sure to check traffic ahead of time or consider taking public transport;
n To ensure you get the most out of your day-trip or staycation, and to avoid busier spaces, consider booking a mid-week break, or explore lesser known destinations.
n Embrace a Giant Spirit safely and take care of yourself, local business and the environment around you by signing the Visitor Charter Pledge on Discover Northern Ireland’s website. Visit: discovernorthernireland.com/know-before-you-go/giantdifference
n For more information on great places to visit and for things to see and do check out www.discovernorthernireland.com
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.