Linda Stewart is environment correspondent with the Belfast Telegraph, covering environment, conservation, agriculture, planning, transport and road safety. She compiles our Weekend Magazine's Walk This Way column.
Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best walks, she recommends...
Correl Glen, Co Fermanagh
The wooded glen climbs through the stunning landscape of west Fermanagh to a spot that commands spectacular panoramic views. This short nature trail sets off opposite the Falls Bridge car park, climbing through the shady wooded ravine cut by the Sillees River up onto heath where a seat overlooks the reserve. The Glen and neighbouring Monawilkin are host to many species of butterfly and dragonfly, so you might catch a glimpse of the silver-washed fritillary butterfly, the largest butterfly in Ireland, or the rare holly blue that flies in May.
Slieve Donard, Commedagh and Bearnagh
This challenging walk takes in three of the four highest peaks in the Mourne Mountains and is strenuous — but worth it. The route also takes in the Brandy Pad, the well trodden and infamous smugglers track. A tough climb will reward you with spectacular views of the Irish Sea and the heart of the high Mournes. Slieve Donard is named after St Domangart, who lived as a hermit on the mountain and was a disciple of St Patrick.
The Newry Canal
The long-distance traffic-free route meanders 20 miles from the Point of Whitecoat, ||just south of Portadown, to Victoria Locks at the sea south of Newry, using the restored towpath of the old Newry Canal, which was once trodden by the horses that pulled the canal boats, known as lighters. With its flat, level surface it's also great for families.
Divis to Dixon Link
This continuous 10-mile |waymarked trail is right on Belfast's doorstep, cutting a trail from the summit of Divis Mountain down through Colin Glen and into Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park. Walkers will be rewarded with views over Lough Neagh, the Sperrins, Belfast, Belfast Lough from Carrickfergus to the Copeland Islands and beyond to Scotland, and Holyhead in Wales.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne
Downhill Estate has to be one of the most wild and dramatic headlands in a region that has more than its fair share. Not only is it the home of Mussenden Temple, but this walk combines stunning views over the coast with open windswept clifftop walks. The landscaped estate reflects the vivid personality of its creator, Earl Bishop Fredrick Hervey, one of the most colourful characters of the 18th century.
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