Bramley Apples in boxes in the orchard, County Armagh.
Captivating County Armagh is a goldmine of hidden gems. Here are some of the best.
In the Orchard County, going for a great day out at an orchard is a must. Enjoy a guided tour with Armagh Cider Company and learn all about the Bramley Apple, how it is processed from tree to plate and bottle, and of course sample the delicious final product. Take a leisurely stroll through Loughall Country Park, a magnificient 188 hectare estate of open farmland, orchards and lough.
Lurgan Park is the second largest public park in Ireland. The beautifully landscaped parklands surround a 59-acre hand-dug lake with well-maintained paths just lovely for walking and running around. Oozing history, Brownlow House sits on the park’s edge and is a brilliant spot for a first-class lunch and an exploration of its history.
For a brilliant off-road adventure, take a spin on your own two-wheeled personal transportation device around Tannaghmore Gardens and Rare Breed Animal Farm. Whether an expert or newbie, a muddy blast through this amazing landscape and you’ll soon be wearing a Segway smile.
Give yourself a craft and culinary treat at Bloomvale House, a beautifully restored thatched linen barn and outhouses, and the home of Ballydougan Pottery. View the potters at work, take time to meander through the historic gift shop and relax in the restaurant and coffee shop. Book ahead for a class to make your own pot.
Gosford Forest Park
Gosford Forest Park’s rare breed farm animals, large collections of traditional poultry breeds, abundant wildfowl and a herd of red deer in open paddocks are a unique forest park sight in Northern Ireland. A day out here can also take in cycling and walking routes, eco trails and over 550 acres of forest and parkland.
Fish at Lough Neagh
The purpose-built fishing stands and facilities at Kinnego Marina are everything you need to enjoy a day’s coarse fishing on Lough Neagh. There’s outstanding sport here, with roach, bream, hybrids, perch, pike and eel all available, especially from May to June. But with no permit required for coarse fishing, you can seek out that big one at any time.
The cobbled farmyard at Ardress House is perfect for children, complete with chickens, Shetland ponies and a collection of different farm buildings. You’ll love the grandeur of the farmhouse too, plus charming woodland, riverside walks and the apple orchards, where you can pick your own in the autumn. There’s apples, apple juice and cider in the café and shop too.
Ballymacdermott Court Tomb
Older than the Pyramids, Ballymacdermott Court Tomb - this peaceful gem is well worth getting up close to. The site has unrivalled views of Slieve Gullion, the Ring of Gullion and the Mourne and Cooley mountain ranges. With good information on the signage at the site, it will make you pause to think what sort of civilisation lived there so long ago.
Paddle the canoe trail
Enjoy an amazing canoe trail on the beautiful River Blackwater with a guide, hired equipment or with your own canoe. Paddle with the current from the slipway at Maydown Bridge to Lough Neagh, meandering past National Trust properties and looking out for otters, kingfishers and all sorts of natural sights. With over 20km of peaceful waters, it can be split over two days if you camp out.
Lunch at Yellow Door
You can’t leave Armagh without having lunch at Portadown’s beloved Yellow Door Deli, Bakery and Café. Owner Simon Dougan bakes some of Northern Ireland’s finest bread and his shelves of specialty foods are a who’s who of star local artisans, from Broighter Gold rapeseed oil, to Abernethy butter, to Glastry Farm ice cream.
Walk the River Cusher
Nothing is better than a good walk, especially if you're taking in the spectacular scenery and nature to be found along the banks of the charming River Cusher in Clare Glen near Tandragee. If the river is flowing fast, it’s a dramatic sight. Follow one of the colour-coded waymarked trails, or mix and match.