It’s no secret that Lighthouse takes pride in the beauty spots that Northern Ireland is filled with.
We might be a small country but it’s one that is teeming with breathtaking sights, if you know where to look for them of course.
May heralds that much missed stretch in the evening and if we’re lucky enough, temperate weather and the odd glimpse of the sun.
Find your perfect weekend retreat from life’s daily stresses and mundanities. Get off the beaten track and become joyfully astray in our selection of some of the beautiful walking routes Northern Ireland has to offer.
1. Cave Hill Country Park
“Little Belfast could be such a beautiful city. Squatting flat in the oxter of Belfast Lough, hazily level with the water, the city was ringed with mountains and nudged by the sea. When you looked up the length of most of Belfast streets, there was some kind of mountain or hill staring back at you”
Robert Liam McWilson’s description of Belfast from his 1996 novel “Eureka Street” brings to life the close proximity of city and countryside.
If you follow those mountains staring at you from the outer limits of the city, you’ll end up in the suburbs of Belfast, near Belfast Zoo and Belfast Castle, and this is where you’ll find Cave Hill Country Park, home of those very mountains.
Filled with ancient forts, raths, a limestone quarry and some spectacular views over Belfast, if you don’t feel like travelling too far from the city centre to see a bit of nature then a Cave Hill Country Park walking trail is a great option.
2. Carnfunnock Country Park
A bit further out from the city but by no means a long drive, Carnfunnock Country Park is situated near Larne, about a 40 min drive.
Boasting a play park, a maze, a train for kids and more pared back forest areas to explore within the park, there’s plenty to do at Carnfunnock. It’s the ideal location if you want to get away from the city for a while with your little ones in tow.
Situated along the beautiful Antrim coast, you could take a beach walk after your Carnfunnock walk if it takes your fancy.
3. Castle Ward
Castle Ward is an 18th Century National Trust property situated near Strangford in County Down.
Widespread countryside surround the property and while you can do tours of the house there is much more to explore. There is a Boundary Trail that starts at the Shore car park and this trail follows along the shore of Strangford Lough, so spectacular views are guaranteed!
4. Lagan Valley Regional Park
Known by locals as simply “the towpath” Lagan Valley Regional Park is the little slice of nature you can indulge in and not have to drive for miles to get to. With one entrance located in the South Belfast area of Stranmillis, you could have lunch in one of the many cafes that flank the Stranmillis Road and then make your way down to Lockview Road for a relaxing walk through nature.
An Area of Outstanding Beauty filled with nature and the still waters of the River Lagan, remember to bring a couple of slices of bread to feed the many mallards and other birdlife that call this area home.
With a flat, paved path, this walking route is very easy to follow.
5. Tollymore Forest Park
At the entrance to Tollymore you’ll see a gothic-style gate arch built in the 18th Century. Striking to view, this arch indicates just how far back Tollymore dates.
Located in Newcastle and positively brimming with nature, Tollymore Forest Park is the place to be if you want to immerse yourself in nature and take in some beautiful sights.
The Mountain and Drinns trail passes through forest plots, beech woodland and a Spring covered in bluebells.