Hidden gems off the beaten track
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With many miles of beautiful coastline, huge stretches of countryside and panoramic views, we have a wealth of treasures for all to enjoy. Discover our hidden gems at any time of year - the perfect rural escape.
Ballyquintin and Barhall: Ballyquintin is located at the very southern tip of the Ards peninsula surrounded by the Irish Sea. Enjoy the circular walk to Port Kelly, Barhall Bay and Barhall Hill for views in every direction, including Strangford Lough, the Mournes, the Isle of Man and the Mull of Galloway.
Ballymacormick and Orlock: At the east end of the sandy beach of Ballyholme Bay is the narrow track through Ballymacormick Point. The gorse scrub, shingle beaches, rocky islets and coves offer a wilder area and escape from the crowds.
Mountains of Mourne
We maintain coastal and mountain paths for hikers to Slieve Donard and neighbouring Slieve Commedagh. The Mourne Coastal Footpath stretches for a mile and a half (2.4km) south of the historic site of Bloody Bridge. From here you can follow the intriguingly named Brandy Pad, an ancient smugglers’ route from the shore into the heart of the mountains.
Portmuck and Skernaghan Point: Secluded Portmuck sits on a wonderful stretch of coastline on the Islandmagee peninsula offering spectacular views over Muck Island and across the North Channel towards Scotland. Stunning Skernaghan Point is further north along the peninsula towards Brown’s Bay.
Glenoe Waterfall: This impressive 30 foot waterfall in a deep gorge is in the small village of Glenoe north of Larne and Carrickfergus. Explore the short circular walk around the edge of a lush glen, through beech woodland to see the hidden flora and fauna.
Cregagh Glen and Lisnabreeny: An easily overlooked haven right in the heart of Belfast, the glen climbs along a tumbling stream through mixed woodland and farmland emerging at the top of the Castlereagh Hills. There are magnificent views across the city, Belfast Lough, Lagan Valley, Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula.
Collin Glen: Collin Glen is a wonderful river glen tucked away in the heart of West Belfast between Collin Hill and Black Mountain. Look out for woodland birds such as jays, spotted fly catcher and chiff-chaffs, along with the occasional sighting of a buzzard.
Ballymoyer: Ballymoyer is mixed woodland with all the atmosphere and mystique of a fairy glen. It is surrounded by the wild and dramatic scenery of the Fews Mountains, once the haunt of robbers and highwaymen. Amongst the modern larch plantations are a number of fine specimen trees including the gigantic Douglas Fir.
Coney Island: This tiny natural island in Lough Neagh is only seven acres and it is believed there has been human occupation on the island since 8,000BC. The island was originally connected to the mainland by a causeway or submerged ridge, which can be easily seen in summer when it is under less than two feet of water.
Exploring Northern Ireland on foot is the perfect way to experience the dramatic landscape and coastline. Go enjoy our hidden gems.