Walkies with a bow wow factor

If your best friend could pick a destination for that perfect getaway or dog walking weekend break, they’d probably pick the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion area. With more great walks than you could throw a stick at, and a veritable doggie perfumery of enticing smells on the wind, this part of the world is sure to have your pooch’s tail wagging like ninety.

Let them off the leash

Let’s go barking mad for starters with a visit to the outdoor exercise area at Rowallane Garden where dogs are allowed to roam free from their leads. Whether you’ve a bounding St. Bernard or skipping Schnauzer, they’ll love the chance to run around and stretch their legs or chase that well-chewed tennis ball. The onsite café patio is the perfect place to paws for breath with water bowls provided and a shady spot available for your furry friend to recover while you enjoy a coffee.

Well-behaved dogs are also welcome to take their owners for a walk around the stunning Montalto Estate. The large exercise area for dogs has been a huge success and is very popular with owners and dogs alike.

Get close to nature

Less than thirty minutes down the road, the Murlough National Nature Reserve features a two-and-a-half mile walk with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Castle. Dogs are welcome to most parts of the reserve but at certain times of the year, during nesting season in particular, some areas might be more restricted. The boarded walkways take you through the dunes and down to the wonderful Murlough Beach and the chance for a doggy paddle in the sea.

Not ten minutes away are the six-hundred-and-thirty hectares of the epic Tollymore Forest Park. While your pooch sniffs and explores the forests and woods you can enjoy the amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and sea. Perhaps you’ll both recall the many winter nights you snuggled together on the couch and watched Game of Thrones® - many of the scenes were shot here. No doubt you’ll sniff them out together.

Castlewellan Forest Park is another great option for you and your loyal friend and there are many tracks and trails that you can take from here. But if you are looking for something a little off the beaten track, then maybe the steep scramble through the forest up to the summit of Slievenaslat is the challenge that you and your canine companion are looking for. Your dog will most definitely love the chance to explore and you will enjoy some fantastic views of the Mourne Mountains and the surrounding drumlin landscape.

Paws for a picture or two

If that’s a little too much for their paws, or more likely your knees, then give the Derrymore Woods a try. This spot close to Bessbrook near Newry has an open area for dogs so you can let them off the lead and watch them having fun.

You can wear both yourself and your dog out on the eight-mile Castle Ward Boundary Trail but you’ll both have a fine bit of fun doing so. Starting on the shores of Strangford Lough, you’ll follow the trail up to Audley’s Castle before trekking through forests to the historic grounds of Windmill Plantation. You’ll finish your walk in the Castleward courtyard where some well-earned refreshments and doggy treats await you at the Stableyard Tea Room. The recently added dog exercise area makes this spot a little corner of doggy heaven in the already doggy-heavenly Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion area.

Your pooch will be snapping at your heels to come back.

Murlough Beach
Murlough Beach

This 5 mile stretch of golden sands is still the essence of the resort and is hugely popular for swimming, sunbathing and other forms of recreation.

Montalto Estate
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
Picture of Montalto House, Montalto Lake and Boathouse all within Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch.

Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch is a mystical and enchanting estate, set in magnificent natural surroundings. Visitor experience includes access to the estate's beautiful gardens; historic walks and trails and an exciting play area where children can engage, explore and learn.

Tollymore Forest Park
Forest Parks
Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at Newcastle and is open to the public all year. Tollymore Forest covers an area of almost 630 hectares at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

Derrymore House
The National Trust
Derrymore House

A National Trust Property, Derrymore House is an elegant thatched cottage that stands amid a picturesque landscape estate less than 2 miles from Newry.

Rowallane Garden - Woodland Walk
Walking & Hiking
Rowallane Garden - Woodland Walk

Whatever the season there's always something new to see at Rowallane Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in Northern Ireland. Carved from the County Down landscape, the garden has grown from the 19th century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore. Their vision helped create a place where you can leave the outside world behind and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty.