The Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion is a paradise for walkers. For those who treat it like an Olympic sport there are of course an abundance of challenging treks over mountains and calf-stretching trails through endless forests. If, however, you prefer to take your time and smell the roses, then there are plenty of places you can do that too.

Endless trails to choose from

Slieve Gullion Forest Park offers a range of great forest tracks and trails to choose from. Try out one of the three Poets Trails and you’ll pass through the Creggan Glen before discovering ancient dolmens and the secrets of the Urnaí Graveyard while taking in some great view across 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 while the short and sweet Red Squirrel Trail will bring you past oak, ash, birch and beech trees in the company of the resident red squirrels.

Gentle slopes with stunning sites

A little further east, the five-mile Blue Lough Walk is an easy introduction to the Mountains of Mourne. This route follows gentle gradients across local tracks and pathways while still offering absolutely stunning scenery. There are a few streams to negotiate along the way so be sure to bring the boots.

The Murlough National Nature Reserve near Dundrum is Ireland’s very first Nature Reserve. There is a carefully constructed network of paths and boardwalks through the old sand dune system leading to a wonderful woodland and heath. This is home to a colourful array of butterflies and wildflowers. The walk eventually brings you down to the beautiful Murlough Beach where you can walk along the strand and enjoy the views of the Mournes emerging out of the sea.

Gardens of delight

The Annesley Garden Walk begins at Castlewellan Lake in the eponymous forest park. On this gentle two-mile stroll, you’ll wander through the Annesley Garden, the National Arboretum, which includes some of the island’s oldest trees, and you’ll take in the many lakes and ponds within the forest. An easy-going wander that’s sure to clear the head.

There is a treasure trove of woodlands, plants and unusual vistas at Rowallane Garden near Saintfield This enchanting garden has grown from the 19th Century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore who wanted to create a place where you can leave the outside world behind and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty. This mix of formal and informal gardens has a range of trees, plants and shrubs from across the globe which creates quite a spectacle throughout the year.

Ramble round the lough

Delamont Country Park on the western shore of Strangford Lough boasts over 200 acres of greenery and open spaces. With great views across the Lough to the Mountains of Mourne, this is an ideal place to get out and have a ramble in the open air with the sea as a constant companion. There are five waymarked trails to choose from ranging in distance from half-a-mile to the four-mile Longwalk Trail.

With such a choice of walking routes at Mourne, Gullion and Strangford you might just need to get out, take a stroll and have a think about where to start.

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.

Castlewellan Forest Park - Annesley Garden Walk
Walking & Hiking
Castlewellan Forest Park - Annesley Garden Walk

Beginning at Castlewellan Lake this trail journeys through the Annesley Garden, National Arborteum and takes in a variety of Lakes and Ponds within the forest.

Rowallane Garden
The National Trust
Rowallane Garden

This unique garden has grown from the 19th century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore. Their vision created a place where you can leave the world behind and immerse yourself in nature's beauty.

Xhale Mindfulness
Health & Wellbeing
Four attendees to Xhale Mindfulness meditating in the forest.

Ann inherited her great love of the landscape from her mother, who was born on Slieve Gullion Mountain. She has practiced meditation for over 20 years & delivers immersive, mindfulness experiences, courses & retreats using meditation &the landscape.