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: Antrim Cliff Path to Duneseverick Castle, Bushmills, County Antrim
Where to Eat: The Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy, County Antrim
Where to Stay: Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, County 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.
Just a few miles away in the pretty coastal village of Ballintoy is The Fullerton Arms, a perfect spot for you and your dog to grab a bite to eat. This dog friendly establishment offers a varied menu, but its forte is its locally caught, fresh and very delicious seafood. The staff are also huge dog lovers and will often go out of their way to say hello and provide your pooch with a little treat if allowed.
Just a little further down the coast in the town of Ballycastle is the Marine Hotel. Ideally located on the doorstep of some of Northern Ireland's top tourist attractions, they offer 3* accommodation with designated dog friendly bedrooms and even have a dog friendly Costa Coffee and library area on site.
Walk: Divis Ridge Trail, Belfast
Where to Eat: The Dirty Onion, Belfast
Where to Stay: AC Hotel, Belfast
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.
Located a short walk from the entrance of the National Trust site, the dog friendly Divis Coffee Barn is the perfect pit stop after a walk.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.
If you feel like something more substantial, for both you and your pup, head back into Belfast's Cathedral Quarter to The Dirty Onion, one of the city's best known dog friendly venues. Famous for their 'Pooch Social' events, they have a dedicated area where your dog can rest and refuel and also offer a bespoke dog friendly menu, including dog friendly beer.
A short walk from the Cathedral Quarter is The AC Hotel, a relatively new hotel on Belfast's waterfront. Pets are permitted and get their own little bed, bowl and treats. They aren't permitted in the hotel restaurant however, but if guests wish to dine in the bar area, their four legged friends are free to join.
Walk: Murlough National Nature Reserve, Dundrum, County Down
Where to Eat: Paws 4 Tea, Dundrum, County Down
Where to Stay: The Bakers Cottages, Seaforde, County 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? The Bakers Cottages self-catering accommodation is the ideal place for all the family and your four legged friend, with a fully equipped play park, BBQ and fire pit. With numerous golf courses within driving distance and Game of Thrones® filming locations on your doorstep, you really are spoilt for choice for things to do.
Walk: Tollymore Forest Park, Bryansford, County Down
Where to Eat: Hugh McCann's, Newcastle, County Down
Where to Stay: Kribben Cottages, Annalong, County Down
At the foot of the Mourne Mountains lies Tollymore Forest Park, a magnificent park covering almost 630 hectares and offering some amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and sea. A walk along the Shimna River with your dog is sure to raise a few eyebrows with its interesting features, including a barn dressed up to look like a church. The forest was also a filming location for Game of Thrones®
A few mile down the road in Newcastle is Hugh McCann's. Located opposite the promenade, it offers fantastic sea views and its interior is filled with antique fixtures and fittings. O'Hares Bar is situated within and here you can enjoy a nice meal or drink in a traditional pub environment in front of an open fire with some refreshments for your dog as well.
Continuing further down the Mourne Coastal Route, just outside the seaside village of Annalong is Kribben Cottages. A cluster of 5 cottages (Crannoge, Millstone, Moolieve, Rourke's and Seefin) nestled against the magnificent back drop of the Mourne Mountains, the surrounding traditional stone ditches and central green area offers plenty of scope for children and dogs to play. If you still have the energy for another walk the following day, Silent Valley Mountain Park is just a short drive away and offers some beautiful views.
Walk: Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, County Down
Where to Eat: Café at Rowallane, Saintfield, County Down
Where to Stay: Late & Early Cottage, Saintfield, County Down
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.
Late & Early Cottage is only a 10 minute drive from Rowallane Garden, so it's the perfect place to stay in the area. It offers 4* self catering accommodation in a restored 18th century stone cottage, complete with stunning countryside and mountain views. It's also within 30-35 minutes of Belfast, Castle Ward, Strangford Lough and the Mourne Mountains.
Walk: Fairy Trail at Lusty Beg Island, Kesh, County Fermanagh
Where to Eat: Lusty Beg Island Restaurant, Kesh, County Fermanagh
Where to Stay: Lusty Beg Island Resort and Spa, Kesh, County Fermanagh
This itinerary is a bit of an 'all in one' as everything you and your dog will need for a perfect getaway is located right on the small island of Lusty Beg in Lower Lough Erne. Recently awarded a Gold Paw by Dog Friendly NI (the first in the UK and Ireland), there are a selection of self catering lodges, chalets and bedrooms to stay in.
The Fairy Trail is a fun adventure around the island for both young and old, and its theme changes throughout the year. Offering beatiful views over the Fermanagh Lakes and scenic walks through the woodlands, it's a nice little walk to bring the dog along on as well.
The resort is also a stockist of Barkin Bistro products, nutritional and locally sourced meals for dogs, so you can be sure that your dog is being as well fed and taken care of as you are.
Walk: Port Path, Portstewart, County Londonderry
Where to Eat: Harry's Shack, Portstewart, County Londonderry
Where to Stay: Tara Lodge, Castlerock, County Londonderry
The Port Path is a scenic coastal path between the coastal towns of Portstewart and Portrush. 6.5 miles in length, it's a good, medium length walk with beautiful panoramic sea views towards Donegal and the Scottish Isles. If this walk seems a little long, why not try Portstewart Strand with it's beautiful golden sands. A Blue Flag beach, it's very popular with walkers throughout the year.
Try nearby Harry's Shack for a bite to eat once you're done walking. Located at the end of Portstewart Strand, this popular beachfront destination is pet friendly all day Monday to Friday and offers (but not limited to) delicious locally caught seafood and home grown vegetables. With its patio and amazing views across the North Atlantic Ocean, it's a great place to watch a sunset after a long day.
Further up the coast, just at the other side of the River Bann on the outskirts of Caslterock is Tara Lodge. This 5* dog friendly self catering holiday lodge is conveniently located to many nearby attractions including Downhill Beach, Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne and some of Northern Ireland's top golf courses. If you have the time, and if you have the energy, Benone Strand is also close by and offers an enjoyable walk the following day.
For a list of dog friendly accommodation in Northern Ireland, check out our pet-friendly accommodation pageand get booking your next walking break with your dog.
These are just some of our suggestions. If you have any of your own, please let us know. #DiscoverNI