WalkNI reveals winning walks of the 2022 WalkNI Awards Sponsored by Barista Bar
Where did over 1,300 walkers from Northern Ireland say are the best places to walk this year? In this blog we share with you the winners in each of the 2022 categories. Competition in these other Awards is fierce and this year was no exception!
Best place to walk as a family – Castlewellan Forest Park
Castlewellan Forest Park has been named the best place in Northern Ireland to walk as a family. Located in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, the park features a variety of trails from relatively flat trails around the lake to some more challenging climbs for those in search of mountain views without the mountain climb. The forest park also has a castle, maze and natural play area. It is easy to see why this is a favourite destination for families at the weekend or during school holidays.
Best NEW walking trail – Drumkeeragh Forest
Drumkeeragh Forest, near Slieve Croob has been a popular walk for locals and visitors alike since its launch in 2021. Walkers can explore a variety of trails including a number of multi use trails shared with cyclists and horses. The forest boasts plenty of opportunities to sit and enjoy panoramic views of Slieve Croob and the surrounding County Down countryside. The trails are fully waymarked so you can choose a suitable trail distance whether you be looking a longer stroll or a quick family walk.
Best long distance walking trail – Ulster Way
Ulster Way has been crowned Northern Ireland’s best long distance walking trail. Encircling Northern Ireland the trail takes walkers on a journey through a variety of terrains from the rugged costal path of the Causeway Coast and the glorious Antirm Hills and Sperrins, to mountain views in the Mournes and rambles along quiet country roads past ancient monuments. At 636 miles (1,024km) this route takes in the six counties of Northern Ireland and can be explored in its entirety or in sections.
Best walking trail in Fermanagh and Omagh – Gortin Glen Forest Park
Gortin Glen Forest Park has been named walkers favourite place to walk in 2022. The forest has recently received a makeover by the council with trail improvement work, installation of new signage, mountain bike trails and a new playpark. Just a short drive from Omagh the forest offers a wealth of walking opportunities ranging from leisurely strolls to more challenging climbs to the summit of Mullaghcarn where spectacular views await.
Best walking trail in Belfast – Cave Hill Country Park
Cave Hill Country Park is a popular walk with locals and tourists alike. The country park boasts some of the most spectacular panoramic views of Belfast. The Cave Hill Trail is a challenging route, over unsurfaced paths, past the caves to McArt’s Fort, and crossing moorland, heath and meadows. You will discover much of what the park has to offer from archaeological sites and wildlife to panoramic views.
Top walking trail in Mid Ulster – Davagh Forest
Davagh Forest has been named walkers favourite walking destination in Mid Ulster. The true definition of a hidden gem, Davagh Forest lies approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown in an untouched rural landscape of rolling hills and sweeping forests.
Favourite place to walk with your dog – Shaw’s Bridge (Lagan Towpath)
Shaw’s Bridge – Lagan Towpath has taken the crown of best place to walk your dog from multi award winning Murlough National Nature Reserve. A popular walk in south Belfast it is easy to see why walkers enjoy exploring these trails with their dogs. Following narrow towpath trails beside the Lagan River it is possible to walk the whole way to Lisburn and also follow the trail into Belfast city centre.
Best summit/hilltop view – Cave Hill
Cave Hill has not only been named the best walk in Belfast but also the best summit/hilltop view in Northern Ireland. Walkers can often be found catching an early sunrise or watching the sunset from the rocky outcrop close to the summit. The hill provides panoramic 360 degree views of the county down countryside with views stretching on clear days as far as the Mourne Mountains and across Scrabbo Tower and Strangford Lough.
Best section of the International Appalachian Trail Ulster-Ireland – Giant’s Causeway to White Park Bay
The IAT Ulster-Ireland has recently undergone significant capital work development which has included the installation of new signage, waymarkers and trail development. This trail which begins at the iconic cliffs of Slieve League in Donegal crosses into Northern Ireland and picks up the Ulster Way through the Sperrins, Causeway Coast and Antrim Hills to its final destination Larne. With strong links to the International Appalachian Trail in North America and countries around the world this trail has a rich heritage and history to explore. Walkers have named the section between the Giant’s Causeway and White Park Bay as their favourite section of this iconic trail.
Best section of the Ulster Way
The Ulster Way is Northern Ireland’s longest walking trail taking in each country and offering walkers a variety of walking environments to explore from coastal walks to mountains this trail has it all! Many have explored this trail in its entirety as part of a fundraising walk or personal challenge, while others have explored short sections of the trail. Walkers have names the Causeway Coast Way section their favourite section of trail to explore. Following rugged clifftop trails and white sandy beaches it is easy to see why this walk came out on top!
Best Barista Bar serving hot drinks close to the trails – SPAR Brennans, Dundrum
Walkers have crowned Brennans SPAR in Dundrum as the best place to get a pre/post-walk coffee when out walking. Located beside Murlough National Nature Reserve this Barista Bar station is perfectly located.
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