Categories: food and drinkfamilyOutdoors

Don’t get hangry when you’re hiking, walking or having fun - grab some grub and pack a picnic!

At last, the weather is starting to turn in our favour and the sun has got his hat on!  We will be spending more time outdoors and what could be better than a beautifully prepared picnic to keep us well fed and watered on our day out?  Don’t feel like making your own?  Why not have a picnic prepared for you? 

Order in advance

The Coffee Dock Outside Catering in Castlewellan have an array of tasty sandwich platters, delightful desserts, fresh fruit and cheese boards with crispy crackers to keep your hunger at bay.  Order by phone on 07746167443 or by email vblaney@aol.com.  The Picnic Delicatessen in Killyleagh, phone 028 4482 8525, will also cater for outside dining and there is a wide variety of sweet and savoury things to order.  Enjoy an indulgent dessert from Margaret’s Cottage, Ardglass.  Have a look at the many sweet treats you can order and take away with you on your day out - homemade cakes and bakes Country Down, Northern Ireland. (margarets-cottage.com).  Ordering in advance from all venues is advisable.

Great Picnic Spots

Now where should you go for your al fresco dining?  Have a look at some of our favourite picnic spots around our area.

Work up an appetite in Castlewellan Forest Park.  Enjoy a walk around the lake or lose yourself in the Peace Maze there, visit the Spring Gardens and marvel at the height of the California Redwoods.  Climb a bit higher to Slieve na Slat and enjoy your picnic with a glorious view of the park below and the coast in the distance.  There are several picnic tables in the car park for you to sit at and with metal plates secured to the tables for your barbecue, why not enjoy a hot dog or burger instead of a sandwich?   There are also tables alongside the lake so you can be sure of a picnic with a spectacular view every time.

Dip your toes in the award-winning waters of Tyrella Beach.  Lay your picnic blanket out on the deep, soft sand and relax with your family and friends.

Take a walk through the woody paths at the foot of the 15th century historic monument, Audley’s Castle in Strangford.  Weaving your way through the primrose-scented forest, you will find your way to the Strangford shoreline.  Enjoy your picnic on the benches or grassy banks along the way and call in to see the majestic mansion that is Castle Ward at the end of your walk. 

Take your family to see the mystical Blue Lake which nestles amongst the beautiful Mourne Mountains.  Driving to Annalong, take the route towards Silent Valley then park in the Carrick Little car park for a very reasonable fee.  The walk is around 2 to 3 hours long and isn’t too strenuous but walking shoes are always better for areas where there are bigger boulders and tiny streams to navigate.  Upon reaching the lake, take off your socks and shoes and enjoy the peace and panoramic views all around.  You won’t need to carry a rug for your picnic stop, a blanket of soft, springy moss is provided by Mother Nature all around.   

Silent Valley provides breathtaking scenery for a picnic.  An area of outstanding natural beauty, you will be in awe of the mountains rising up all around you as you relax by the duck pond.  A walk further along the side of Silent Valley Dam will bring you to the Ben Crom Dam where you can see the clear water cascading down the overflow to the reservoir in front of you.  Take a shady seat on the grass under the trees there or sit on the benches provided.  Work off that picnic afterwards with a walk up the countless steps to the bridge looking down over the overflow or Ben Crom reservoir behind you, the views really make the steep climb worth it!

Park up at Kilbroney and climb to the Cloughmore Stone.  You will be rewarded by amazing scenery while feasting on your picnic.

Follow the story of Fionn the Giant at the trail in Slieve Gullion Forest Park.   Meander through the trees and see all the colourful fairy houses.  Follow the boardwalk to the adventure playground where kids will enjoy burning off some energy.  Have your picnic while you are there then finish off with the Slieve Gullion Forest Trail, a scenic forest drive that takes you up over the mountain, giving you magnificent views around the Ring of Gullion and to the landscape below.

Remember, enjoy your picnic but leave no trace on our beautiful countryside.  Take all your litter home with you.

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.

Tyrella Beach
Beach
Tyrella Beach

Tyrella beach and conservation area is a small, enclosed dune complex within Dundrum Bay. It is a wide, flat, sandy beach two kilometres long and backed by 25 hectares of mature dunes in a conservation area.

Silent Valley Mountain Park
Lake / Reservoir
Image of Silent Valley

The Silent Valley Reservoir was built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains and is the main water supply source for most of County Down and a large part of Belfast. The famous Mourne Wall was constructed to enclose the reservoir's catchment area.

Kilbroney Park
Forest Parks
Kilbroney Park

Kilbroney Park Forest 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.

Rostrevor - Cloughmore Stone
Walking & Hiking
Rostrevor - Cloughmore Stone

Walks though a woodland with steep climbs and hills in places

Fionn's Giant Adventure at Slieve Gullion Forest Park
Walking
A family reading a sign at the entrance to Fionn's Giant Adventure  at Slieve Gullion Forest Park.

Follow Fionn's Giant Adventure (previously known as the Giant's Lair) at Slieve Gullion Forest Park. Follow the trail, there's so much to explore. Seek out fairies, spells, music and more.  Help is at hand as you'll have fairies and warriors to help you follow the trail.