WalkNI.com - Your Definitive Guide to Walking in Northern Ireland

The top walking spots in Northern Ireland have just been revealed in this years WalkNI Awards, with the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down coming out top!

Celebrating all that is great about walking in Northern Ireland, award categories included favourite walking destination and routes as well as the best views, festivals and events with over 1,900 votes being cast via WalkNI.com.

Favourite Walking Destination

Winner: The Mourne Mountains
The highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, with 42% of the vote, the Mournes has once again topped the poll holding onto its title of 'Favourite Walking Destination'. This compact yet impressive mountain range offers endless routes for walkers to explore and breath-taking views. From rocky outcrops on the summits and stunning reservoir views to the distinctive Mourne Wall the entire Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is simply unique. 

Most Epic View

Winner: Slieve Bearnagh (Photograph By Alistair Hamill Photography)
With so many spectacular views to choose from, this is always a closely fought contest in the awards. However, we are delighted to announce that the Mournes are officially home to the 'Most Epic View' in Northern Ireland. The winning view from Slieve Bearnagh was taken by the talented Alistair Hamill. One of the most distinctive mountains in the Mournes renowned for the granite tors on its summit it can be accessed via the Trassey Track from Meelmore Lodge car park.

Favourite Coastal Walk

Winner: Causeway Coast Way
With its secluded stretches of sandy beaches, interesting rock formations and cliff top paths it was no surprise that the Causeway Coast Way in Co. Antrim got 73% of the votes in this category to be crowned 'Favourite Coastal Walk'. A walk along this 33-mile waymarked way reveals many wonders including quaint villages and harbours such as Portbradden & Ballintoy; made famous by Game of Thrones, The Giant's Causeway; Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site and historical gems like Dunserverick & Dunluce Castle.

Favourite Country Park / Estate

Winner: Castle Ward
A popular choice in this year's awards the vote for 'Favourite Country Park/ Estate' goes to the historic 18th century mansion and estate of Castle Ward. Looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in Co. Down the estate boasts over 34km of trails including woodland rich in wildlife and rare plans, farmland and coastal paths ensuring there is something for everyone. Visitors can expect to discover something new around every corner from Temple Water & stunning ornamental canal to Audley’s Castle a 15th century tower; made famous by HBO in their award-winning show Game of Thrones.

Favourite Walking Festival/Event

Winner: Mourne International Walking Festival
Holding onto its title of 'Favourite Walking Festival' this internationally recognised event organised by Newry, Mourne & Down District Council attracts walkers from around the world. Taking place every June the guided & self-guided walks in the mountains and surrounding countryside showcase the best of the area. As well as offering excellent walking opportunities, festival goers can enjoy the social opportunities surrounding the festival to experience local hospitality and get to know fellow walkers.

Favourite Nature Reserve

Winner: Murlough National Nature Reserve
A closely fought contest with Glenariff Nature Reserve, Murlough National Nature Reserve located on the Co. Down coastline near the popular seaside town of Newcastle was crowned 'Favourite Nature Reserve'. A haven for walkers and nature lovers alike, the reserve owned by the National Trust features a fragile 6,000 year old sand dune system and boasts spectacular views of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Bay

Favourite Family Friendly Walk

Winner: Castlewellan Forest Park
With just over 50% of the votes Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down is a must- visit for families looking to pack a picnic and enjoy a fun day out together. With range of walking trails to explore the park boasts a lake, castle, one of the world's largest permanent hedge mazes and incredible panoramic views. The park also features 'Animal Wood' a natural play structure designed for 4-11 year olds which is sure to capture their imaginations.

Win £150 Of Walking Gear!

Enter our latest competition to be included in a draw to win a £150 voucher to spend on walking gear from Sperrin Outdoors.

Sperrin Outdoors sell a range of apparel and accessories for outdoor pursuits, stocking popular brands including; Jack Wolfskin Clothing, Craghopper, Vango and Highlander clothing.

For your chance to win this fantastic prize simply fill out the form on our Competition Page.

More Than Just A Nature Reserve

Did you know that Murlough National Nature Reserve, winner of the award for 'Favourite Nature Reserve', is both a National Nature Reserve & Coastal Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).

Hosting a fragile 6,000 year old sand dune system the reserve is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Chosen from the very best examples of our wildlife and geology, you can read more about what each of these designated titles means on the DAERA website via the links below including the locations of other Nature Reserves and coastal ASSI's worth exploring in Northern Ireland;

outdoorni.com outdoorni.com/local-outdoors walkni.com cycleni.com canoeni.com
mountainbikeni.com Discover Northern Ireland facebook twitter
WalkNI is supported by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, Belfast City Council, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, Mid Ulster District Council and North Down & Ards Borough Council.
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