Categories: Family FunWalking & Hiking

Made for families that love to walk

For the family that likes to get out, about and into nature, Visit Mourne is quite possibly one of the top destinations in the world. Not only does the beauty of the diverse natural landscape encourage exploration and inspire wonder, but the normally benign climate and low population density means the air is always clean and fresh. At the end of your walking day, you will always feel great no matter what mountain track or forest trail your kin choose to take.

Newry Canal Way

Why not get the show on the road along the banks of an old canal. The Newry Canal Way will take your family along a ten-mile route from Portadown to the heart of Newry. You’ll have plenty of chances to stop along the way to admire the flora and fauna of the canal or get stuck into the contents of your picnic basket.

Not only does Slieve Gullion Forest Park offer families and kids the fantastical Giant’s Lair and Adventure Playground, it also has a range of great forest tracks and trails to choose from and is the starting point for many of the longer trials around the Ring of Gullion. Families who enjoy quiet routes will enjoy the forest park’s Sensory Trail, the first purpose-built trail of its kind in Ireland. It’s designed for children and adults with additional sensory needs, but can be used by anyone looking to have a slow adventure through the forest.

Inspired by local man C.S. Lewis’s epic tale, the Narnia Trail in Kilbroney Forest Park brings all the family into the magical world of Aslan and the Pensevies. This gentle trail is short enough for tiny feet and colourful enough to keep little minds engaged throughout.

Four great trails at Tollymore Forest

Tollymore Forest Park in the heart of the Mournes has four designated walking trails. Families who like to keep their walks short and sweet can take the half-mile Arboretum Path through mature forest and past some of the largest trees you're likely to see in Ireland or the three-mile River Trail along the Shimna River with its famous steeping stones and dramatic cascades. Families with older kids and teenagers might prefer the bigger challenges of eight-mile Mountain and Drinns Trail through the Mournes or the mammoth twenty-six-mile Mourne Way. Whichever trail you choose at Tollymore, you are sure to be rewarded with some spectacular scenery.

Find your way from slopes to shore

After you’ve found your way out of the Peace Maze at Castlewellan Forest Park, your family can take the two-mile stroll around the lake or tackle one of the many other trails through the forest. Families who have had their porridge that morning might feel like tackling the Slievenaslat Walk. This is a very steep climb through the forest but every metre gained brings the rewards of the most spectacular views across the Mourne Mountains and the surrounding drumlin landscape.

On the shores of Strangford Lough and close to the historic town of Downpatrick, you’ll find the Delamont Country Park which offers stunning, serene views across the Lough. There are five waymarked walks including the one-mile Strangford Walk and the five-mile Longwalk. Whichever path you choose, you’ll pass through an unspoiled countryside of woodlands, open pasture and rolling drumlins with the Lough and the ever-present Mournes never far away.

Take it easy with an estate walk

If you still have the legs for it then we recommend a day or half-day at the wonderful Montalto Estate. Most of the four trails in this estate are what you might classify as fairly easy going and it might be a place to keep in the back pocket as a kind of recovery walk for the day after your more challenging treks. The short Woodland Walk, for example, is flat and easy but the boathouse, acers and Japanese maples might inspire tired legs to keep going a little further into the estate and seeing what else can be discovered.

All in all, Visit Mourne is a paradise for family walkers. When Mother Nature created this wee corner of the world, we’re pretty sure she had them in mind.

Tollymore Forest Park
Nature and Wildlife
Tollymore Forest Park

Oak wood from Tollymore Forest Park was used for the interiors of the White Star liners which included the Titanic. A walk along the Shimna River is marked by many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves.

Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze
Nature and Wildlife
Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze

Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, this is one of the most oustanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Aboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

Delamont Country Park
Public Park
Delamont Country Park

Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough in an area of natural beauty, Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh offers peace, beauty and tranquillity.

Montalto Estate
Visitor Centres & Museums
Montalto Estate

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.

Kilbroney Park
Forest Parks
Kilbroney Park

The forest features riverside walks and an arboretum. There is a two-mile forest drive to panoramic views over Carlingford Lough. There is also an Information area and cafe.

Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Adventure Playpark and The Giant's Lair
Nature and Wildlife
Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Adventure Playpark and The Giant's Lair

Slieve Gullion is Ireland's Mountain of Mystery. The Forest Park offers walking trails, a scenic drive, an Adventure Playpark, Giant's Lair children's story trail and Courtyard with coffee shop.