Christmas Walks in Northern Ireland

A woman walks her dog in the snow in front of a wintery Castle Coole

Christmas is different this year, so follow a different style of advent calendar. Set aside a window in your day for a winter walk and reward yourself with the gifts of nature. Our places to visit in Northern Ireland can offer inspiration to get outdoors and enjoy a wonderful walk at any time of year. Follow our Active Advent Calendar and enjoy a walk near you or build a bucket list for 2021.

Springhill snowdrops

Active Advent Calendar Window 1 - Springhill 

Most advent calendars open to the sweet smell of chocolate and so does ours. As it's National Tree Week, our active advent calendar starts at a place with a chocolate-scented tree. Springhill estate is a great place to walk as it has many varieties of tree and one in particular proves popular every spring. As it flowers, the magnificent magnolia located near the Visitor Centre gives off a sweet scent like white chocolate.

Florence Court on a sunny day

Active Advent Calendar Window 2 - Florence Court 

As it's National Tree Week, the second window on our active advent calendar opens on one of the most important trees in Ireland. The original Yew Tree at Florence Court can be found on a walk along the Blue Trail at the Fermanagh estate. Although it lurks modestly in our grounds, the saplings of this historic tree dates back to the 1760s. It has been planted in many gardens and graveyards ever since. Standing in front of this tree, you're staring at a great grand-mother of famous Irish trees.

Best coastal walk in Northern Ireland

Active Advent Calendar Window 3 - Orlock Point Trail 

The third window on our Active Advent Calendar reveals a real jewel. Well-trodden by Vikings and smugglers, the Orlock Point Walk on Strangford Lough is steeped in archaeology and history. The walk affords stunning views of the Copeland Islands and out across the Irish Sea towards Scotland. While catching your breath on a clear day, you might even spot the Mull of Kintyre. Making up part of the Outer Ards Special Protection Area (SPA) and Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), this area is recognised for its international and national importance for breeding, wintering and migrating birds.

Discover Terrace Hill Garden at Minnowburn

Active Advent Calendar Window 4 - Minnowburn 

The 4th window of our Active Advent Calendar opens at one of the best walks in Belfast. Close to the city but in the heart of the country, Minnowburn is a magical mixture of meadows, woodlands and riverside paths. Taking a December dander along the Sculpture Trail will reveal real and wooden wildlife for an action-packed family adventure.

Cows walking along the beach in winter

Active Advent Calendar Window 5 - White Park Bay 

The 5th window of our Active Advent Calendar opens to a dusting of white. White Park Bay is a beautiful bay between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast. On the western end of this sandy beach lies the small fishing hamlet of Portbraddan, and at the other end, the shelter of Ballintoy Harbour. Backed by its ancient dunes, a walk at White Park Bay is a scenic stroll in any season.

The mansion house at Castle Ward and surrounding countryside

Active Advent Calendar Window 6 - Castle Ward 

The 6th window of our Active Advent Calendar opens on not one but 6 scenic trails. Famed for its mix of architectural styles and as the location of Winterfell in Game of Thrones, Castle Ward adds the drama to a winter walk. With a choice of difficulty and distance across its routes, walkers and cyclists will enjoy bingeing on the beauty of this County Down estate across the seasons. Book a visit online from the property website.

Walks in Belfast

Active Advent Calendar Window 7 - Cregagh Glen 

For International Volunteer Day, the 7th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on the favourite walk of Volunteer Ranger, Meryl Doy. Meryl and son Caelan love to start their week exploring Lisnabreeny and Cregagh Glen. ‘The view from the top of Lisnabreeny at the Rath is simply breath-taking. On a clear day you have a 360° view. The city below pops with the bright yellow of Samson and Goliath, the famous H&W cranes. At the bottom of Lisnabreeny through the tunnel emerges the almost Jurassic Cregagh Glen with its huge ferns and plants. We love the thundering of the waterfall in the glen after rainfall. It's hard to believe you're right in the heart of Belfast. Caelan describes it as his "happy place" and with that I can definitely concur.’

A winter walk around The Argory grounds

Active Advent Calendar Window 8 - The Argory 

The 8th window of our Active Advent Calendar opens on The Lime Tree walk at The Argory in Armagh. For the last day of National Tree Week, this avenue of pollarded lime trees, which also passes an oak plantation, makes the perfect Sunday stroll and inspiration to put your own Christmas tree up.

Castle Coole house and estate on a winter day

Active Advent Calendar Window 9 - Castle Coole 

The 9th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a gentle 1.1 mile lakeside trail to ease you into a new week. On a cool winter day, Lough Coole at Castle Coole offers the perfect winter wander. Passing the site of the original Queen Anne house, the path offers impressive glimpses of the magnificent mansion house and a chance to spot the resident swans.

Coastline at Giant's Causeway

Active Advent Calendar Window 10 - Giants Causeway 

The 10th window of our Active Advent Calendar bounces to the stunning Causeway Coast where Santa's Red Robin loves to visit. You can enjoy a bird's eye view of this world-famous coastline with a walk along the Giant's Causeway's Red Trail. With the weather on your side, this bracing clifftop walk offers spectacular views in any season. The Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway reopens this Friday 11 December and tickets can be pre-booked online.

Snow capped Mournes from Murlough National Nature Reserve

Active Advent Calendar Window 11 - Murlough National Nature Reserve 

The 11th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on an ancient dune system overlooked by the magical Mountains of Mourne. The extraordinarily dune landscape of Murlough National Nature Reserve serves up a network of paths and boardwalks to meander through the dunes as well as step onto one of the best beaches in County Down.

Peter Rabbit winter trails

Active Advent Calendar Window 12 - Peter Rabbit Winter Trails 

The 12th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a classic winter tale - the outdoor adventures of Peter Rabbit. We're inviting you to embark on a Peter Rabbit™ winter adventure activity trail at Castle Ward, Rowallane Garden, The Argory or Florence Court. Spot all kinds of nature and help Peter's friends as you make your way around our places - who will you come across on your family winter walk?

Walking towards the saddle of the Mournes, Slieve Donard

Active Advent Calendar Window 13 - The Mournes 

For International Mountain Day, the 13th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on the highest mountain range in Northern Ireland. Steeped in legend and literature, Slieve Donard is the highest mountain boasting breath-taking climbs which bring breath-taking views. This serious hike is a favourite of our Regional Director, Heather McLachlan. ‘Donard was the first mountain I ever climbed and it always brings back fond memories of misty days with my dad, hoping to get a glimpse of the most stunning and breath-taking view of our most famous landscape. Like the Percy French poem ‘he's wishful like me To be back where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea’ - it’s my special place.”

Rowallane Garden In Snow

Active Advent Calendar Window 14 - Rowallane Garden 

The 14th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a walk to WOW gardeners. With a Rock Garden, Walled Garden and Rose Garden, step into a plantsman paradise. This winter, little explorers will love the chance to embark on a Peter Rabbit™ winter adventure activity trail at Rowallane Garden. Spot all kinds of nature and help Peter's friends as you make your way around its woodlands on your family winter walk.

White stag at Mount Stewart

Active Advent Calendar Window 15 - Mount Stewart 

The 15th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on the world-class gardens of Mount Stewart. Pose beside the famous white winter stag as you follow the Santa Trail around the beautiful lake walk. With the house reopening on 18 December, admire the Christmas tree before warming up with a millionaires hot chocolate or gingerbread cappuccino in the cosy tearoom.

Nugent's Wood in Portaferry on the shores of Strangford Lough

Active Advent Calendar Window 16 - Nugent's Wood Walk 

The 16th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on an enchanting woodland walk through Nugent's Wood. This 1.5 mile trail is a home for red squirrels and offers spectacular views across Strangford Lough where you can see a different side to Audley's Castle and the Castle Ward estate. With new seating and sculptures along the way, it's the perfect place to find yourself in nature this winter.

Coastal sunset at Fair Head, County Antrim

Active Advent Calendar Window 17 - Fair Head 

The 17th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a favourite walk of one of our rangers, Toby Edwards. The Fair Head East Loop is a 5.5km trail located near Ballycastle in County Antrim which offers a great chance to admire local wildlife. “It’s one of those places where cliché words like ‘rugged’ ‘breath-taking’ and ‘remote’ really do describe the area. With lots of smaller linier strolls as well as longer 4-5mile stomps you can turn a corner and see a whole new perspective of this beautiful section of the North Coast.”

Follow the coastal path from Kearney

Active Advent Calendar Window 18 - Kearney Coastal Walk 

The 18th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a picture-perfect scene which could grace the front of any local Christmas card. Sitting on the southern tip of the famous Ards Peninsula, Kearney is a traditional fishing village full of unspoilt timeless character. Watch local birds swoop above whitewashed cottages which hug the rugged coastline on one of the most scenic short walks in the north of Ireland.

Wellbrook Beetling Mill

Active Advent Calendar Window 19 - Wellbrook Beetling Mill 

The 19th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a piece of Ireland's industrial history. Dating back to the 17th century, Wellbrook Beetling Mill stands as a reminder of Ulster's once-flourishing linen industry. Nestled in a picturesque wooded glen, our last working water mill is part of a beautiful one mile walk along the banks of the Ballinderry River.

Ballymoyer Wood

Active Advent Calendar Window 20 - Ballymoyer Wood 

The 20th window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a magical fairy glen which was once the haunt of robbers and highwaymen. Experience the atmosphere and mystique of Ballymoyer Wood on the three mile walk through its gigantic Douglas Fir trees. Surrounded by the dramatic scenery of the Fews Mountains, spot local wildlife in this wild woodland in County Armagh.

Winter sunrise at Crom estate in County Fermanagh

Active Advent Calendar Window 21 - Crom 

The 21st window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a tranquil lakeside retreat with islands, woodlands and historical ruins. The 2,000 acre landscape of Crom in County Fermanagh is one of Ireland's most important conservation areas. Home to local deer, it's the perfect space for a spectacular secluded winter walk.

Divis Mountain in the snow

Active Advent Calendar Window 23 - Divis and Black Mountain 

The 23rd window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on panoramic views over Belfast and beyond. Divis and the Black Mountain is a haven for those seeking wild countryside on the edge of the city. On a clear winter day, enjoy views of Strangford Lough, the Mournes and the Sperrins as well as Donegal and even Scotland.

Mussenden Temple on a snowy day

Active Advent Calendar Window 24 - Downhill Demesne 

The 24th and final window on our Active Advent Calendar opens on a window with a WOW. Perched dramatically on a cliff edge, Mussenden Temple offers stunning views of the North Coast. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the stunning Downhill Demesne with its beautiful sheltered gardens and famous temple, originally inspired by the Tivoli Temple of Vesta.