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About

Overview

The Ulster Way is a long distance walk made up of a series of trails throughout Northern Ireland which total 636 miles (1,024km). It encircles the province and takes in all six counties as well as a small portion of trail in Donegal.

 

History

The brainchild of Wilfrid Capper MBE, who in 1946 had the inspiration to create a circular walking route taking in the six counties of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Way passes through some of the best landscapes Northern Ireland has to offer.

Originally planned to be a walking link between the ring of Youth Hostels which used to encircle Northern Ireland, after a few revisions over the years the route now consists of a 636 mile circular walk.

A series of renovations along the route took place throughout 2020 and 2021.

 

Partners

The Ulster Way is maintained by all 11 councils across Northern Ireland, each looking after their own sections of the long-distance trail. This includes trail maintenance, ensuring the route is well signposted and dealing with any complaints which may arise on the route.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is dedicated to protecting and enhancing Northern Ireland’s environment, and in doing so, deliver health and well-being benefits and support economic growth. They have been a longstanding supporter of the Ulster Way.

 

Signage

You can spot an Ulster Way sign by looking out for its distinctive blue and yellow markings. Examples of this can be seen below:

Signage Example 1
Signage Example 2
Signage Example 3

You may also find signage alongside the Ulster Way denoting the International Appalachian Trail. You can find more information on this on our IAT-Ulster Way page.

Signage Example 4

Although the trails are waymarked, it is important to always be prepared and bring a map and compass when walking the route. Order OS maps from: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/osni-online-map-shop

 

Accessibility

Walks are graded by the level of accessibility they provide. Individual grade levels can be found in walk Route Descriptions.

  • Grade 1
    • The path can be expected to be hard and firm with no loose material and will be over 2m wide for its entire length, or over 1.5m wide with adequate passing places.
    • The path will not be steeper than 3° or have a cross slope of greater than 3°.
    • There will not be any obstacles such as steps, stiles or surface breaks and there will be a clear head height of greater than 2.10m in width and height for the entire length of the route.
    • There will be passing places at least every 50m and rest areas at least every 100m.
  • Grade 2
    • The path can be expected to be hard and firm with some loose stones (not bigger than 1cm) and will be at least 1.2m wide for its entire length.
    • The path will not be steeper than 5° or have a cross slope of greater than 5°.
    • There will not be any obstacles such as steps or stiles and surface breaks will be a max of 12mm in width.
    • There will be a clear head height of at least 1m wide and 2.1 in height for the entire length of the route.
    • There will be passing places at least every 150m and rest areas at least every 300m.
  • Grade 3
    • The path may not be hard and firm in all weathers with loose stones (not bigger than 5cm) with occasional tree roots and pot holes and will be at least 1m wide for its entire length.
    • The path will not be steeper than 6° or have a cross slope of greater than 6°.
    • There will not be any obstacles such as steps or stiles and surface breaks will be between 12mm and 75mm in width.
    • There will be a clear head height of greater than 2.10m for the entire length of the route.
    • There will be passing places at least every 150m and rest areas at least every 1km.
  • Grade 4
    • The path may not be hard and firm in all weathers with loose stones (not bigger than 10cm) with occasional tree roots and pot holes and will be at least 80cm wide for its entire length.
    • The path gradients and cross slopes will be greater than 6°.
    • Obstacles such as steps or stiles are to be expected and surface breaks may be larger 75mm in width.
    • There will be a clear head height of greater than 2.10m for the entire length of the route.
    • Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.
  • Grade 5
    • There may not be a formalised path, and variable, single file trails are to be expected.
    • Gradients and cross slope could be expected to be steep and not limited.
    • Obstacles and surface breaks of greater than 75mm measured across the line of the path to be expected.
    • Overhanging branches are possible. Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.