Categories: Family FunWalking & Hiking

Made for families that love to walk

For the family that likes to get out, about and into nature, the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion 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 the heart of Newry to Portadown. 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 fantastic Fionn's Giant Adventure 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 but beware of the white witch.

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 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, Mourne, Gullion and Strangford 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
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.

Castlewellan Forest Park
Forest Parks
View of the Annesley Walk in Castlewellan Forest Park

Located on Forest Park View, Castlewellan, County Down, in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, Castlewellan Forest Park has one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

Delamont Country Park
Public Park
Child climbing and another on a slide in the play park, at Delamont Country Park.

Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh offers peace, beauty and tranquillity. The stunning views across Strangford Lough and the relaxing atmosphere make Delamont Country Park a place to enjoy that 'away from it all feeling'. It is home of the Strangford Stone - the tallest megalith in Ireland. This beautiful 200-acre Country Park offers a great day out for visitors of all ages. Whether you are a keen walker, a nature lover or simply looking for a great day out for all the family you will find plenty to entertain you in Delamont Country Park.

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.

Kilbroney Park
Forest Parks
Children being photographed in Kilbroney Park

Kilbroney Park features riverside walks and an arboretum. There is a two-mile forest drive which showcases panoramic views over Carlingford Lough. There is also a Play Park with children's play area and tennis courts, an Information area and a café all on site.

Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Adventure Playpark and Fionn's Giant Adventure
Forest Parks
Children playing around a giant book in Slieve Gullion Forest Park

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

Delamont Long Walk
Walking & Hiking
Delamont Long Walk

The Delamont Long walk is approximately 7km.  The walk starts and ends in the car park.  This is a way marked trail through the woodland and along the shores of Strangford Lough.  You will get great views across the Lough.

Delamont Strangford Walk
Walking & Hiking
Delamont Strangford Walk

The Delamont Strangford Walk is a way-marked trail located in Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh, Count Down.  It is 2km long and is suitable for wheelchair users.  All the walking routes in Delamont Country park are interlinked and can be added to.  This walk is on the shores of Strangford Lough with fabulous views to the Mourne Mountains.  It is the perfect place for the family to get out into nature.