Explore NI's Stunning Walking Trails

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It's a new decade and a new chance to get in shape, enjoy the fresh air and explore your local area. While this may sound mediocre compared to the holidays we're all currently dreaming of booking, Northern Ireland is dotted with stunning coastlines and mountain plains that quite frankly don't get the credit they deserve.
Here to help your on your journey, we've compiled a list of some of the best walking trails to visit this year. Whether it's a clifftop stroll, sunset beach walk or a steep challenge you're after, Northern Ireland offers everything you could wish for and all within a few hours drive.
So lace up your trainers and explore some of the best kept secret views by foot on these stunning walks.

Gortin Glen Forest Park, Omagh
Perfect for those up for a bit of a challenge, Gortin Glens has a range of way marked trails winding their way around the western gateway to the Sperrin mountains.
The routes explore the park's natural flora and fauna at it's best, with a breathtaking viewpoint waiting at the top for those fit for the challenge.
The forest is also suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties with its five mile long drive and multiple points to pull in and enjoy the scenery.
Gortin Glens offers a challenge for keen hikers or an ideal choice for a family day out with its BBQ station, camping facilities, orienteering trails and brand new play sculpture.
Opening times: 10am daily until dusk.

Rathlin Island
Located just six miles off the Co Antrim coast, Rathlin Island is a must see for outdoor explorers.
The scenic 'L' shaped island features not one but six walking trails as well as a cycling and canoeing route. The waymarked paths range from 1.8 to 4 miles in distance and boast both wonderful views and the opportunity to learn more about the quaint island.
The island is accessible via a short ferry ride from the Ballycastle Ferry Terminal, with full prices and times available here.
Further details on each working trail are also available online.

Cladagh Glen, Enniskillen
This forest walk is a lesser known gem of the popular Cuilcagh Way trail in Co Fermanagh, making it a must-see for keen local walkers.
The 1.6 mile trail follows the Cladagh River down a narrow, steeply-sided forge towards the Erne lowland.
Part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, the glen features a range of mixed terrains with steps, tracks and pathways involved.
Points of interest covered on the trail include the Caves, the Folly and the Cascade.
A short walk through a woodland area, Cladagh Glen provides the perfect shelter for when the weather isn't on your side.
Visit Discover NI to find out more about this free route.
Opening times may vary throughout the year, visitors are advised to check online.

Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne
It's no secret that Northern Ireland's north coast is a favourite with locals and tourists alike, not least for the stunning views it has to offer. With that in mind, and of course the multiple nearby Morelli's shops, I couldn't write about popular walking trails and not give a nod to Mussenden Temple.
Perching dramatically on a 120ft cliff top, the Temple and surrounding area offers spectacular views over Downhill Strand, Magilligan Point, Portstewart and Portrush, all to the background of the Atlantic Ocean.
The area is among the most photographed scenes in Ireland, with the striking 18th-century ruins still open for the public to explore.
Keen adventurers can walk the Temple and surrounding areas before making their way to Downhill & Benone beach in just a short drive, where the golden sandy beach stretches for miles.
This spot is suitable for picnics and also has wheelchair access.
Visitors should be aware that the Temple is a National Trust site and therefore comes with an admission charge.

Hare's Gap, Mourne Mountains
Hailed by keen hikers as the most dramatic mountain pass in the Mournes, the challenge of Hare's Gap is certainly worth it for the scenery it boasts.
The Gap's easily reached central location on the rim of the High Mournes makes it a popular starting point for walking routes and adjoining peaks. Its sharply defined outline indicates that ice once passed this way; using the Gap's convenient north-south alignment to advance and retreat over the entire Mournes range.
In more recent times, the Hare's Gap marked the exit point for smuggled goods which had crossed the hills from the coast along the Brandy Pad. The contraband, which included soap, leather, spices and coffee, was carried through the mountains on the backs of small ponies which descended by the Hare's Gap to the valley of the Trassey River and on to Hilltown, a favourite distribution centre.
The linear route is around 2.1 miles long with many points of unsurfaced terrain and off road paths, meaning hikers should wear solid and stable footwear.
Find out more and map out your route here.

Annesley Gardens, Castlewellan Forest Park
While many travel to Castlewellan for its world famous maze, the forest park's best kept secret is in fact the beautiful Annesley Gardens.
A stunning and secluded trail, don't be surprised if you're the only one discovering the breathtaking viewpoints it has to offer.
Beginning at Castlewellan Lake this 2.2 mile trail journeys through the Annesley Garden, National Arborteum and takes in a variety of Lakes and Ponds within the forest.
Visitors are advised of some steep heels throughout the walk which may require alternative arrangements for disability access.
Opening Times:The Forest Park is open daily from 10am until sunset.


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