Categories: Walking & Hiking

Discover secret waterfalls and magical forests in a place where your kids’ imaginations can run wild, you can take a mindful few minutes or walk in the footsteps of your favourite Game of Thrones® hero or villain. There are loads of reasons to explore Northern Ireland’s rugged landscape and forest walks. Here are some that are truly a sight for sore eyes! 

Waterfalls in the glens 

The burn drowns steadily in its own downpour 

A helter-skelter of muslin and glass  

from ‘Waterfall’ by Seamus Heaney 

A short stroll from the charming village of Glenoe in the stunning Glens of Antrim, you'll find Glenoe Waterfall. Take the woodland walk as it meanders up and down the sides of the valley to one of the most picturesque waterfalls in Northern Ireland. Glenariff is one of the nine Glens of Antrim and considered by many to be the fairest of them all. The Waterfall Walkway at Glenariff Forest Park is its crowning glory. This picturesque woodland walk has epic backdrops for amateur and professional photographers, so do not forget your camera or phone charger power pack! Or remember Heaney’s words as you stand before Ireland's highest waterfall, Crumlin Glen, in the wooded glens of Ness Country Park by the Burntollet river in Derry~Londonderry. 

Caves and geoparks 

For fans of Game of Thrones®, Pollnagollum Cave in the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in Fermanagh served as a portal to the netherworld. It’s fed by a waterfall and swells to a torrent during heavy rainfall – but not to be missed whatever the weather. Further afield, should you be staying at Galgorm Resort & Spa, a short walk will take you to your own private waterfall and is a free treatment for the soul. While you’ll find Cranny Falls, one of Northern Ireland's true hidden gems, in all its sparkling magnificence near the picturesque coastal village of Carnlough in Antrim. 

Wishing trees, Titanic trees and haunted forests 

…I had a vision 

Of an airy branch-head rising through damp cloud, 

Of turned-up faces where the tree had stood 

from ‘The Wishing Tree’ by Seamus Heaney 

Rural images have always populated Heaney’s poetry. Prominent among these has been the tree’s natural, mythical and historical connotations. He is even laid to rest under the shade of sycamore and ash. Little wonder, as Northern Ireland is home to many fantastic forests and inspirational woodlands. Their uncrowded nature give you the feeling of perfect solitude or being at one with something bigger than yourself.  

At Castlewellan Forest Park in Down, you can surely feel that giant spirit in the shadow of the majestic Mourne Mountains. From iconic views from the summit of Slievenasla to your very own ‘secret garden’ of Annesley Garden, a treasure trove of conifers and maples around the world await you. Not forgetting the Peace Maze – one of the world’s largest permanent mazes. 

In the same county, Tollymore Forest Park is perhaps one of Northern Ireland’s most recognisable forests due to its connection with Game of Thrones® (The Haunted Forest), Dracula Untold and other shows filmed in Northern Ireland. Along its many trails and paths, you’ll come across natural and artificial curiosities such as rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves. Check out the oak wood trees which were the preferred material for the interiors of the White Star liners including the Titanic.  

Queen of the Glens and the Ring of Gullion 

Known by all as the ’Queen of the Glens’, at Glenariff Forest Park in Antrim discover its plethora of panoramic landscapes and peaceful riverside walks along Rainbow Trail, Viewpoint Trail and Scenic Trail. Lough Navar Forest in Fermanagh is one of the many jewels in the Marble Arch Cave Geopark system. Here magnificent views over Lower Lough Erne, Donegal Bay, the Blue Stack and Sperrin Mountains will gladden your eye. As will Armagh’s Slieve Gullion Forest Park where geology, archaeology and history come alive before you. Expect stunning views across the Ring of Gullion, Mourne and Cooley mountain ranges, and the Armagh Drumlins filled with over 2,000 years of legend and history. 

If you ever want to feel at one with Northern Ireland’s giant elemental spirit, simply step into its great outdoors, take to the forests to walk between the trees and be inspired by their size, their age and their beauty.