Winter wildlife walks in Northern Ireland

top places to spot wildlife this winter

Leafless trees and frosty backdrops make local wildlife easier to spot. What will you discover on your winter walk?

Horses on Divis and Black Mountain in Belfast
Horses on Divis and Black Mountain in Belfast

See Belfast and beyond in a whole new light as you take to the trails and climb into the clouds. The area is significant for biodiversity with red grouse, stonechats, skylark, snipe and other upland breeding birds, while peregrine falcons and ravens swoop overhead. There are several occupied badger setts and on a walk through this habitat you mayeven encounter a hiding Irish hare. 

Minnowburn, Belfast

Look out for kingfishers as you follow the riverbank at Minnowburn
Look out for kingfishers as you follow the riverbank at Minnowburn

Enjoy riverbank, meadow and woodland walks linking the landmarks of Shaw’s Bridge and the Giant’s Ring. 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.  

Rowallane Garden, County Down

Flowering blackthorn tree in Rowallane Garden
Flowering blackthorn tree in Rowallane Garden

This inspirational garden is perfect for a winter stroll. Home to diverse mix of wildlife the trees provide the ideal habitat for beetles, woodlice and other bugs. See if you can spot birds and hedgehogs who love to forage in the debris for insects.

Castle Ward, County Down

Seals basking on Strangford Lough near Castle Ward
Seals basking on Strangford Lough near Castle Ward

With 21 miles of trails there is plenty of space for walking at Castle Ward. Meander through atmospheric woodland and open farmland while enjoying views across Strangford Lough. Along the shore look out for harbour seals, wildfowl and wading birds.

Mount Stewart, County Down

Red squirrels at Mount Stewart Estate
Red squirrels at Mount Stewart Estate

Voted one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Stewart reflects a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry bearing the hallmark of its creator – Edith, Lady Londonderry. The gardens, lakes and woodlands are home to red squirrels, wintering redwing and flocks of finches.Visit the Lookout to spot birds and seals on Strangford Lough.

Crom, County Fermanagh 

Pine martens can be spotted at Crom in Fermanagh
Pine martens can be spotted at Crom in Fermanagh

This tranquil landscape on the shores of the Lough is a wonder for wildlife. Sneak a peak at feathered friends from the birdhide or walk through the woodlands and see if you can spot the elusive pine marten. 

Castle Coole, County Fermanagh

Swans on the lake at Castle Coole in Enniskillen
Swans on the lake at Castle Coole in Enniskillen

Castle Coole's circular Lake Walk offers breathtaking views and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the wildlife around Lough Coole, including majestic swans.

The Argory, County Armagh

Irish hares can be seen in the grounds at The Argory
Irish hare can be seen in the grounds at The Argory

There are garden, woodland and riverside walks at this fascinating place. Test your skills at telling the time on the Rose Garden sundial and as you follow the banks of the River Blackwater up to the meadows look out for Irish hares, and jays, or even a heron or kingfisher.

Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

Northern Ireland’s iconic World Heritage Site is home to a wealth of wildlife including many species of plants, fungi, lichen, birds, spiders, beetles, butterflies and moths. On the coastal path you might even be lucky enough to see a seal or dolphin playing in the water.