Guide to the best Northern Ireland walks
It’s nearly that time of year when beautiful displays of coloured leaves and a harvest of berries and conkers get people out of the house and into the great outdoors. To mark the imminent changing of the seasons, conservation charity, the National Trust, has published a handy guide to its most popular walks across Northern Ireland.
The Little Book of Great Walks is available at selected Trust places and details 18 rambles of varying difficulty, length and terrain. All 18 walks, plus further details and suggestions, are also available online at nationaltrust.org.uk/walksnearyou
The beauty about many of these walks is that, once you have earned a treat, a Trust tea-room can be found nearby with the promise of hot drinks, tasty nibbles and a rest for weary bones.
Routes included in the new publication are split into themes such as ‘history’ and ‘wildlife’. They include a trail through Crom estate in Co Fermanagh which, at just over an hour long, offers beautiful tranquil scenery but also an exciting opportunity to spot some red squirrels, otters or fallow deer.
At Mount Stewart in Co Down, three miles of new walking trails have recently been launched, opening up previously unseen parts of the demesne – which remain largely unchanged and are one of the best surviving examples of an 18th century Irish country estate.
Speaking of history, did you know that the sand dunes at Portstewart Strand are more than 6,000 years old? A two-hour meander through them will bring you to the Bann Estuary, a salt marsh where you can enjoy the sight of green, white and brown shelducks swimming alongside other waders.
If a steep climb to work out the hamstrings is more your thing, the summit of Divis Mountain offers views of Belfast below, and on a clear day, glimpses of the Scottish, Cumbrian and Welsh uplands.
National Trust Coast and Countryside Manager, Andrew Upton said the new publication, which was produced in association with the walking experts at Cotswold Outdoor, was timely and could help spur people on to get more exercise and fresh air.
'The great thing about this handy new booklet is that it caters for all tastes and abilities,' he said, 'so there are walks through woodland and coast, mountains and countryside. Everyone will have their own favourite walk at a special place near them, and there are always new walks to discover.
'Here at the Trust, we’re very committed to increasing public access to green spaces and to encouraging children to exercise more and use their imagination instead of being stuck indoors in front of screens. The more that people get out and about regularly, the more public health and wellbeing will be increased, as well as a sense of the beauty, joy and fun of nature.'