Wonderful walks and cosy pubs in Northern Ireland
With daylight hours getting shorter and a noticeable chill in the air, it’s an ideal time to explore our great outdoors on a bracing walk.
With open fires, thatched roofs, home brews and award winning food all to be found enroute to warm you up, the scenery won’t be the only thing inspiring you to get out walking!
Discover Northern Ireland has put together top walks conveniently located next to bars and restaurants so you can treat yourself to a well deserved pint or some tasty grub after stretching your legs.
Walk: Crawfordsburn Country Park
Best Place to eat/drink: The Old Inn Crawfordsburn
Located on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, with two excellent beaches, spectacular scenery, a tranquil walk through wooded glens and a long coastal path, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat.
Just a ten minute walk away, sink into a comfortable chair by the fire or dine in elegance at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn.
One of Ireland’s oldest hotels, the Old Inn has played host to many notable visitors under its thatched roof from famous author C. S. Lewis to former US President George W Bush.
Walk: Murlough National Nature Reserve
Best Place to eat/drink: The Dundrum Inn
A fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned and managed by the National Trust, Murlough Nature Reserve - Ireland’s first nature reserve - is a fantastic two and a half mile long walk with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Castle.
A short five minute drive away situated in the historic village of Dundrum, The Dundrum Inn is sure to give you a warm welcome.
With a fresh new interior that enriches the pride the inn takes in serving the very best in seasonal, freshly prepared and locally sourced produce, you’ll be spoilt for choice and style.
Walk: Slieve Donard via Glen River
Best Place to eat/drink: Hugh McCanns
The Slieve Donard via Glen River (approx six mile) walk starts in Donard car park and climbs up through the forest to meet the famous Mourne Wall for the final steep ascent to the top.
A total climb of 850m, the dramatic views of Newcastle and the sea below definitely make it worth the ascent.
After climbing Northern Ireland’s highest peak the good news is you won’t have to go too far to find the perfect spot to rest your legs and enjoy a cold one.
Situated a two minute walk from Donard car park, Hugh McCanns is a fantastic spot to refuel and reminiscence about your conquest.
Walk: Castle Ward Estate
Best Place to eat/drink: The Cuan
Home to a 21 mile network of multi-use trails through the stunning 820 acre demesne there are no shortage of walks within Castle Ward.
Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough take a stroll along the water’s edge or head into the forest and explore the unique 18th century house or exotic sunken garden.
Just two miles away in the picturesque village of Strangford, The Cuan’s excellent food and drink await for walkers where strong emphasis is placed on using fresh ingredients and sourcing local produce.
Walk: Portrush to Bushmills
Best Place to eat/drink: Bushmills Distillery / Bushmills Inn
This six and a half mile walk (one way) from Portrush to Bushmills via Portballintrae will definitely help you work up an appetite.
Passing beaches, cliffs and castles there is plenty to admire along this coastal route which will take you along the sandy dunes of Whiterocks, a fabulous viewpoint towards Dunluce Castle and alongside the tracks of the Giant’s Causeway to Bushmill’s railway – not to mention the jaw dropping coastal scenery along the way
Once you’ve reached Bushmills pay a visit to Ireland’s oldest working distillery and take in the sights and smells on a guided tour or simply enjoy the end product at the onsite restaurant and bar.
Alternatively less than a mile away step back to a time steeped in charm at the luxurious Bushmills Inn.
Roaring peat fires, nooks and crannies and a gas lit bar provide the perfect setting for a drink or two. Don’t miss out on the Traditional Irish music every Saturday night.
Walk: Lagan Towpath
Best Place to eat/drink: Hilden Brewery
A tranquil riverside route, this continuous flat off-road path links the two cities of Belfast and Lisburn.
Starting from Stranmillis, just minutes from Belfast City Centre, the walk follows the river and late 18th century canal system through a variety of wetland, riverside meadows and mixed woodland.
Your map reading skills don’t have to be great – just follow the water! Once in Lisburn, simply hop on the train back to Belfast.
After walking the 11 miles from Belfast you will be greeted with the welcome sight of Hilden Brewery.
A family run microbrewery, take a tour or enjoy one of their many home brewed ales over a relaxed lunch or dinner in the Tap Room restaurant.
Walk: North Antrim Cliff Path to Dunseverick Castle
Best Place to eat/drink: Causeway Hotel
This spectacular cliff walk follows a key section of the longer Causeway Coast Way & Ulster Way. Nearly five miles in length, the walk starts from the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Giant’s Causeway.
Along the way you will be greeted with some of the finest cliff scenery in Europe, with attractively named headlands and bays such as: Port na Spaniagh, The King & His Nobles, Bengore Head, Portnabrock and culminating in the largest bay of Port Moon.
Before you start your walk pay a visit to the Causeway Hotel on the doorstep of the famous landmark.
Built in 1836, the Taste of Ulster 2014 award winning hotel has a bar lounge ideal for a drink or light bite, for more substantial local fayre visit the hotel restaurant with stunning views across the bay to the Atlantic Ocean.
Walk: Sperrin Mountains
Best Place to eat/drink: Flavour of Tyrone
With the Sperrins extending over two counties, there is simply so many stunning places to enjoy a cosy drink or tasty meal after your mountain walk.
The Sperrin Mountains, stretching along the border of counties Tyrone and Derry~Londonderry, can best be described as wild, untouched and beautiful. Spanning 40 miles, the Sperrins mountain range is the largest in Ireland and walkers can expect undulating hills covered in heather, quiet valleys, boggy uplands and a land teeming with wildlife.
Walk: Beech Hill Trails
Best Place to eat/drink: Beech Hill Country House Hotel
Just two miles from the bustling city of Derry-Londonderry you’ll find Beech Hill Country House Hotel where three miles of circular trails twist their way through the mixed woodland and landscaped gardens near the River Faughan.
A hub of history, Beech Hill was used as a World War II camp by the US Marines who carved their names on a tree in the woods which can still be seen today.
The trails start and finish at the front of the hotel where you can enjoy a meal in the Ardmore restaurant where the menu uses only the finest and freshest of ingredients mostly from nearby farms and local fishermen with vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel’s own walled garden.
Alternatively relax and unwind whiling away the hours with a drink in the bar area.
For more information on walking routes in Northern Ireland visit discovernorthernireland.com
Belfast Telegraph Digital