Wander around Belfast

The burial chamber at the centre of the Giant’s Ring, Minnowburn © Gerard Callaghan at Flickr.com

The burial chamber at the centre of the Giant’s Ring, Minnowburn

From the blustery and brisk heights of Divis to the oasis of inner-city calm that is Minnowburn, there is something for everyone in Belfast this spring and summer.

Minnowburn: Giant's Ring trail
From Minnowburn car park take the path upstream along the Minnowburn river.  Brown trout can usually be seen feeding in the shallow stream and with a bit of luck you might see a kingfisher or a dipper going about their work. The path then takes you through a stand of young woodland as it gradually climbs Terrace Hill. When you reach the top, you’ll find the ‘Rose Garden’. Originally belonging to Terrace Hill house this garden is possibly the finest viewpoint in the Lagan Valley Regional Park. Follow the trail down the old avenue and cross the road, a stile takes you into the ‘Sandpit field’. In this field, which is naturally shaped like an amphitheatre, a free Peace concert ‘Pop for Peace’ was held in the summer of 1969.

Next stop is the Giant’s Ring, a huge ‘henge’ constructed 5,000 years ago - banks standing 13 feet (4m) high form a circular shape 590 feet (180m) across. In the centre stand the remains of a passage tomb. Make your way out through the gate at the opposite side from where you came in. This path will take you through farmland and woodland until you reach the river Lagan. At that point turn left and stroll along the beautiful riverbank path for a few hundred metres until you return to the car park.

Trail distance: 2.1 miles (3.3km) circular.

Divis and the Black Mountain: Summit Trail
A wild countryside experience on the outskirts of Belfast, Divis and the Black Mountain provide a dramatic backdrop to the city’s skyline. This 2,000 acre site provides a mosaic of upland heath and blanket bog, and is home to a wealth of wildlife and archaeological remains. From the car park, follow the main access road towards Divis and Black Mountain, past the Long Barn, to where two trails each lead to a different summit. The path to the right round the TV mast leads to summit of Black Mountain 1,275ft (390m). On the way across bog and heath you will pass the Bobby Stone, a large erratic deposited after the last Ice Age.

A rich and varied archaeological landscape reveals evidence of life and death rituals on the mountains, particularly in prehistory. On a clear day, there are superb views of Belfast, Strangford Lough and beyond. Retrace your steps to the path junction. From here return to the surfaced road, which winds its way uphill for just over 0.5 mile to the summit of Divis at 1562ft (478m). Retrace your steps back to the car park.

Trail distance: 3.6 miles (5.8km) - 5.2 miles (8.3km) circular.

For more information on local walks visit www.walkni.com (external link).