Dogs on Murlough Beach, Newcastle, County Down.
When it comes to walking there are few who love it more than man’s best friend.
With so many places to explore on foot we’ve put together some fantastic walks in Northern Ireland with dog friendly accommodation and places to eat nearby that are sure to get the tail wagging seal of approval.
Dogs are allowed on all of the walks listed below however restrictions and guidelines for individual locations may apply.
Walk: Murlough National Nature Reserve, Dundrum, Co. Down
Where to Eat: Paws 4 Tea
Where to Stay: Mourne Heights, Newcastle, Co. Down
A fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland's first Nature Reserve since 1967, Murlough National Nature Reserve is a fantastic 2.5 mile long walk with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Castle.
Dogs are welcome to most parts of the reserve however there are restrictions in some areas in spring and summer when ground-nesting birds are breeding or cattle are grazing – please abide by the signage.
Access to Murlough Beach is also available via the reserve if your four legged friend is still in search of more sniffing opportunities!
Paws 4 Tea is the ideal place to come after stretching your legs at Murlough (less than 3 miles away) and with four legged friends allowed inside with their owners this is as dog friendly as they come!
Tasty home cooking (both for humans and pets!) and friendly service will ensure you will love it just as much as your dog.
With so many walks to explore in the Mournes area why not make a break of it? Mourne Heights self-catering accommodation is the ideal place for all the family and your four legged friend, located in the glorious countryside in the beautiful Mournes, with superb views across the sea and Dundrum Bay.
Walk: Antrim Cliff Path to Duneseverick Castle, Bushmills, Co. Antrim
Where to Stay: Ballintrae Apartment, Portballintrae, Co. Antrim
Part of the longer 33 mile Causeway Coast Way this 5 mile section of coast from the 5* Giant’s Causeway to Dunseverick Castle features some spectacular cliff landscape passing above a series of coves.
With height established approximately 100m above the ocean, the path undulates past the dramatic rock scenery around Benbane Head with Hamilton’s Seat, the highest point of the entire route before passing above Port Moon to reach Dunseverick Castle.
Only 3 miles away in the pretty coastal village of Portballintrae is the 5* Ballintrae Apartment, the perfect spot to stay and make the most of the North Coast and its fabulous walks.
Pets are allowed inside so you can both relax after a day in the fresh air whilst enjoying uninterrupted ocean views.
Walk: Silent Valley Mountain Park, Kilkeel, Co. Down
Where to Stay: Mountains of the Mourne Country Cottages, Co. Down
Built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains, the Silent Valley Reservoir is the main water supply source for most of County Down.
Ringed by the impressive Mourne Mountains, the park is home to unique landscapes, beautiful parkland, lakes and a pond.
With three new routes launched in 2014 there are plenty of walks to enjoy.
(NI Water would like to remind visitors they are entering a site that has vegetation and fungi natural to the area that could be poisonous if eaten. Please ensure pets are properly supervised at all times.)
If you can’t tear yourself away from the Mournes then make the most of the area with a break at the 4* Graceys Barn. This two bedroomed barn offers luxurious and comfortable self-catering accommodation, a fully contained garden, BBQ area and a secure store for guests.
Pets are welcome in the separate facility provided adjacent to guest accommodation.
Walk: Florence Court, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Where to Stay: Castle Hume Court, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
The former home of the Earls of Enniskillen, surrounded by lush parkland and thick woodland, with the imposing mass of Benaughlin rising in the background, 4* Florence Court enjoys a majestic setting on the Fermanagh-Cavan border.
Choose from a number of walks or a stroll around the walled garden, all providing fine vistas against the dramatic backdrop of mountains and forests.
Dogs are welcome on leads in both the garden and grounds.
Ideally located in the heart of Fermanagh Lakelands, Castle Hume Court guests can explore the best of Fermanagh from their doorstep. All self-catering cottages are pet friendly, so you can truly make it a ‘family’ holiday!
Walk: Divis Ridge Trail, Belfast
Place to Eat: Divis Coffee Barn
The 4.2 mile circular Divis Ridge Trail located in the Belfast Hills offers spectacular skyline views over Belfast as well as the Mourne Mountains, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
At an elevation of 478m (1,568ft.) it is the highest point in the Belfast Hills however the walk itself is on relatively flat paths on tarmac, boardwalk and stone pitched gravel and is one of four trails on Divis and the Black Mountain.
Courtesy of Outdoor Recreation NI
Located a short walk from the entrance of the National Trust site, this dog friendly café is the perfect pit stop after a walk and is also Ireland’s highest coffee shop!
Outdoor seating (complete with blankets) is available and water bowls are provided for any thirsty pooches. They even have a dog cookie jar for treats so while you’re tucking into some homemade goodies they won’t feel left out.
Walk: Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, Co. Down
Place to Eat: Café at Rowallane
There are lots of places to explore that will keep both dog and walker intrigued at Rowallane Garden.The trails pass through the 19th century garden, famous today for its colourful plant collection and rugged landscape which was started in 1860 by the Moore family and further added to from 1903.
If your dog loves to run around and stretch its legs or is fond of a tennis ball then make sure to visit the outdoor exercise area where dogs are allowed to roam free from their leads.
The onsite café patio is the perfect place to rest after all that panting! Water bowls and a shady spot are available for your furry friend to recover while you enjoy a post walk coffee.
Walk: Slievenaslat Walk Trail, Castlewellan, Co. Down
Launched in November 2014 this steep climb through the forest to the summit of Slievenaslat (272 metres) is most definitely worth it for the iconic views of the Mourne Mountains and take in the panoramic views of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain range and surrounding drumlin landscape.
If that hasn’t tired you out then there are lots of other walks to choose from with a walk trail network totalling 7.5 miles throughout the forest park. See NI Direct for Forest Service guidelines for dog walkers.
For a full list of dog friendly accommodation in Northern Ireland check out Discover Northern Ireland’s Pet-Friendly Properties and get booking your next walking break with your dog.