From the peak of Slieve Donard to the drumlins of Down, from the spectacular Sperrins to the Fermanagh lakes, Northern Ireland has an abundance of places to get out for a walk to enjoy the fresh country air. And yes, even if the freshness is sometimes tinged with that smell of the countryside (something us city folk aren’t used to), it’s an amazing feeling to get back to one with nature and experience outdoor life.
It seems this whole walking business is much more popular than I thought, although I’m not surprised really, why wouldn’t you want to get out into our beautiful countryside?
Did you know there are a number of walking festivals throughout the year? I didn’t!
Thankfully Tourism Northern Ireland has created a list of upcoming walking festivals you might want to get involved in.
The Mourne International Walking Festival runs from June 26 to 28 and is an internationally recognised event which offers walkers of all levels of fitness the chance to experience stunning trails in the Mourne Mountains and surrounding countryside.
The Festival comprises a variety of self-guided lowland walks as well as a mountain hike which requires a higher level of fitness. Entertainment is available for participants with the highlight of the weekend being the ‘Blister Ball’ which is a casual dance event with a delicious hot supper.
Keen ramblers should try out The Sperrins Walking Festival (date to be confirmed) will give walkers the chance to soak up some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery around the Co Tyrone area. Whether you are a regular hiker or prefer something more of a leisurely stroll, this festival has something for everyone as it caters for all abilities from moderate to challenging, all of which are guided by professional walking guides.
The Sperrintrek Walking Festival takes place in September 2015 and is a series of hill walking events around the Sperrins Area of Outstanding Beauty. The event offers varying degrees of walks for all abilities against the beautiful backdrop of the Sperrin Mountains.
Fondly known as the social club that walks, the Wee Binnian Walking Festival runs from September 11 – 13 and is renowned for lively fun and great walks. The Festival consists of nine walks around the Mournes, Slieve Gullion and Cooley Mountains and caters for all abilities.
The festival is known for its perfect balance of fabulous landscapes, friendly people and nightly entertainment. With something for everyone, the programme offers guided mountain and lowland walks of varying distances and difficulties catering from the novice to the most experienced hill walker.
The Castlerock Walk Fest will take place on September 5 in Binevenagh, Co Antrim and offers a wide range of walks including hill walks, family walks, gentle walks and Walk Talks which are led by a guide who explains the history of the area.
Participants can explore the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is known for its unspoilt areas of hills, moors, forests, beaches and is also home to the famous Downhill Castle and Mussenden Temple.
Grab a group of your best friends and get involved in the Fermanagh Autumn Walking Festival from October 10 – 12. Fermanagh boasts a wide variety of available walks and has something to suit families, intermediate and advanced abilities.
The Walk the Glens Festival takes place from June 5 – 7 and is based around the spectacular surroundings of the Glenariff, Cushendall and Cushendun area. There are two walks available each day, a long and short one each with vastly experienced and knowledgeable local guides.
Check out www.discovernorthernireland.com/walking for more information on routes, how to book a guide or find a place to stay and plan a walking weekend.