Dog-friendly walks

Take a walk at Murlough Nature Reserve and enjoy majestic views of the Mourne Mountains

Looking for the perfect place to walk your dog? Earn a tail-wagging seal of approval with a day out at the places and spaces in our care. Here's where to em-'bark' on an epic adventure that you and your four-legged friend will love.

We welcome dogs on leads into all your favourite National Trust places.

For added brownie points, many places offer doggy facilities including exercise areas where your dog can run off lead, water drinking bowls, hitching posts and spare leads and dog pooh bags in case you forget yours. Facilities will differ from place to place, so please check the property website before visiting.

Dogs on leads please

Many of these places are home to local wildlife including red squirrels, Irish hare, badgers and ground nesting birds.  Some spots like Divis Mountain, Castle Ward and Murlough Nature Reserve also use cattle and horses for conservation grazing to reduce scrub so native wildflowers can thrive.  In order to keep all these animals and your own dog safe, please keep your dog on a lead.

There are also a number of places where your can let your dog run free. Let your dog off their lead at the training area at Mount Stewart or at the dog exercise areas at Rowallane Garden and The Argory.

Dog walk with a view

Divis and the Black Mountain Summit Trail - if your pooch has boundless energy to burn off, then challenge yourself to the Summit Trail. Covering three miles, the trail takes you through open heath and blanket bog following a way marked trail to the highest peak in the Belfast Hills. Overlooking the city below and with magnificent views of Lough Neagh, the Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough there is no better vantage point to take in the magnificent scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer.

Dog walk on the beach 

Portstewart Strand – miles of sand backed by ancient dunes make this a magical spot for a doggy dip in the sea and dig in the sand. Portstewart Strand is the start point for the 33-mile long Causeway Coast Way to Ballycastle. If you fancy a shorter walk you can choose between walks along the strand or a two-mile long circular route in the dunes.

Murlough National Nature Reserve – explore the beauty of Murlough with the three-mile North Point trail to discover the history, biology and conservation of this special place. Please keep your dog on a lead to avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging the reserve.

Dog walk in the woods

Giant’s Ring Trail, Minnowburn - starting and ending at Minnowburn car park, the Giant’s Ring Trail is a wonderful place to reconnect your dog with nature on the edge of Belfast.  It is an energising walk for dogs and humans alike, along riverbanks, over stiles and through meadows to discover the impressive ancient earth henge of the famous Giant's Ring. The trail will lead you to Sandpit Field, a marvellous natural amphitheatre that was carved by retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age.

Castle Ward Boundary Trail - This eight-mile trail takes in some stunning sights around Castle Ward. Start at the shore of Strangford Lough and follow the trail up to Audley’s Castle, from here you’ll cross mature woodland and farmland, though the historic grounds of Windmill Plantation and across the deer park before finishing in the old farmyard. Head up to the courtyard afterwards for refreshments and doggy treats in the tea-room.

Castle Coole Lake Trail - take a pleasant, gentle walk around tranquil Lough Coole, spotting wildlife and glimpses of the mansion house on the way. Take your time to enjoy the sights and sniff out the scents along the way as you pass through the site of the original Queen Anne House before reaching the shore of the Lough.

Dog Holiday

Show your canine companion you care by considering a future stay at one of our dog-friendly cottages. The quaint cottages at Castle Ward and Crom will help you both 'paws' for thought on their very own getaway when the time allows.

Keeping your dog a lead keeps our wildlife safe
Dog walking in Northern Ireland
Keeping your dog a lead keeps our wildlife safe

Keeping your dog safe. Follow our lead...

Help us keep our outdoor spaces a safe, healthy and enjoyable place for you and your dog. In the interests of other visitors, wildlife and livestock we ask that visitors:

  • Keep your dog in sight and under control - use a lead if requested.
  • Don't let your dog chase wildlife or farm animals. We have a wide range of wildlife that we protect. From red squirrels and badgers to low nesting birds, all of which are very sensitive to disturbance by dogs off leads.
  • Watch out for local notices.  Even on our new open trails it is important that dogs are kept on their lead so they can’t chase grazing livestock.  This is particularly important in woodland or farmland at sensitive times of year, during the lambing season, or between March and the end of July when ground-nesting birds are on eggs or raising their young.
  • Please always pick up after your dog. At many of our sites we've dedicated dog bins for you to use.

Different dog restrictions apply at each of our places and at different times of year, so please check property pages on the their website before visiting.

Assistance dogs are welcome inside all of our houses, gardens, restaurants and shops when they are open. 

Don't forget to take and tag pictures of you and your dog enjoying our places using #nationaltrustni