To celebrate the launch of The Great NI Walk annual walking festival this weekend, the National Trust has revealed the top ten secret trails that can only be accessed by foot, with Minnowburn, near Belfast selected as one of the best.
The list has been carefully selected by experts at the National Trust to showcase unique walking experiences and has been put together following research showing that nearly a quarter of adults in Northern Ireland (24 per cent) rarely go for walks, while 19 per cent never venture more than 500 metres from their car. Despite this, 72 percent described a feeling of euphoria on reaching the summit of a walk or an amazing viewpoint.
The top ten ‘secret discovery’ walks each offer something special with Minnowburn selected for the Giant’s Ring. The Giant’s Ring is the largest henge and stone circle in Ireland. It was built around the same time as Stonehenge and Avebury in 2,700BC, but its story is little known. This two mile walk starting from the car-park reveals a hidden side to the well know city of Belfast, which lies less than three miles away.
According to the survey’s findings, 80 per cent of adults in Northern Ireland wished they got out and walked more, with 10 per cent admitting to walking less than five miles a month. A further 14 per cent said they walk only five to ten miles a month, and just 5 per cent walk over 50 miles per month.
Seventy six per cent of people in Northern Ireland stated the best thing about walking is the places or things they discover en-route, and 77 per cent said that it is the memories made with friends and family. Ninety per cent simply enjoy the feeling of being in the fresh air, with 76 per cent revealing that walking leaves them feeling ‘revived’.
Heather Thompson, National Trust Director in Northern Ireland commented: “We’re delighted that Minnowburn was selected as one of the top ten UK walks, and we hope The Great NI Walk this year encourages people to experience new places on foot. We’ve over fifteen specially organised walking events on offer during the festival, from fungi walks at Downhill Demesne and Crom, to an autumn harvest walk at Castle Ward and the red squirrel trail at Mount Stewart. With lots of other easy to follow walks around our coast and countryside we’re hoping the public will join in and get exploring.”
Dr Katie Tryon, Head of Clinical Vitality at PruHealth, sponsor of the Great NI Walk commented: “Walking is a wonder therapy that stimulates all the senses and can transform your life. It’s a wonderful way to relax, relieve stress and help lift your mood as it encourages the release of serotonin, the natural feel good chemical, as well as endorphins, known as happy hormones. It can also re-energise you and help you sleep better. Most of all it’s just a great excuse to get outside and explore the world around you, discovering new surprises along the way and what’s more, it’s free.”
The National Trust is encouraging everyone to join in with the campaign, get out for a walk and share their walking photos on twitter, instagram and facebook at #NIwalk
To find out more visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatniwalk and join the thousands of others celebrating the Great NI Walk with the National Trust this autumn.