Categories: Seasonal Inspiration

Now to some of you this might sound a little odd, and maybe it’s just us, but around these parts, particularly in autumn and winter, we like nothing more than getting out to smell the sea and feel the breeze on our faces before heading inside to a cosy pub to sit beside a fire and sip on our favourite tipple. Just go straight to the pub, says you. No way, that would be too easy. Anyway, for those who want to give it a try, here’s a few suggestions.

Escape the bustle of Belfast

A tranquil riverside route, the Lagan Towpath links the two cities of Belfast and Lisburn. Starting from Stranmillis, just minutes from Belfast City Centre, the walk follows the river and late 18th century canal system through a variety of wetland, riverside meadows and mixed woodland. Your map reading skills don’t need to be great, just follow water.

Just remember to stop after eleven miles or whenever you see the welcome sight of the Hilden Brewery where you can take a tour or enjoy one of their many home brewed ales over a relaxed lunch or dinner in the Tap Room restaurant.

Located on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat with two excellent beaches, spectacular scenery and a tranquil walk through wooded glens and a long coastal path.

A short stroll from here will take you to quite possibly the most comfortable fireside chair in Northern Ireland at the elegant at The Old Inn. This fine establishment in Crawfordsburn is one of Ireland’s oldest hotels and its old thatched roof has kept the rain off many notable visitors like famous author C. S. Lewis and former U.S. President George W Bush.

Slow down in County Down

In County Down you’ll find Ireland's first nature reserve, Murlough Nature Reserve. This is a fantastic two and a half mile long walk with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Castle.

A short five minute drive away you will find The Maghera Inn where you are sure of a warm welcome and the very best in seasonal, freshly prepared and locally sourced produce.

The Slieve Donard via Glen River walk climbs up through the forest to meet the famous Mourne Wall for the final steep ascent to the top. By the time you reach the peak, you’ll have put those calves through 850m but the dramatic views of Newcastle and the sea below definitely make it worth the ascent.

The good news is you won’t have to go too far to get to Hugh McCanns for a tasty pint, some juicy crab claws and the chance to relive and maybe even a boast a little about your latest mountain conquest.

If the legs, and of course the head, have recovered sufficiently you take on one of the many trails within Castle Ward. Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough this place is so big it offers a twenty-one mile network of multi-use trails through the stunning grounds. Most of it is pretty flat and you can choose your own path. In the nearby picturesque village of Strangford, The Cuan is a fine and local favourite that offers excellent food and drink with a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients from local people.

Coastal Comforts

Up along the famous Causeway Coastal Route lies a six and a half mile walk from Portrush to Bushmills via Portballintrae. It is long but boy it’s special. You’ll pass beaches, cliffs and castles by the sandy dunes of Whiterocks and some special views of Dunluce Castle before you get to Bushmills and Ireland’s oldest working distillery. You can stop and take the tour here or less than a mile away step back to a time steeped in charm at the luxurious Bushmills Inn Hotel (4*). Roaring peat fires, nooks and crannies and a gas lit bar provide the perfect setting for a drink or two. It also has some rather comfortable beds too.

Before you start your walk along the North Antrim Cliff Path to Dunseverick Castle pay a visit to the Causeway Hotel (3*) on the doorstep of the famous landmark. Built in 1836, the Taste of Ulster 2014 award winning hotel has a bar lounge ideal for a drink or light bite. For more substantial local fayre, visit the hotel restaurant and take in the stunning views across the bay.

The spectacular cliff walk starts at the Giant’s Causeway and follows a five-mile path to the famous castle. Along the way, you’ll see some of the finest cliff scenery in Europe and pass some of the most oddly named headlands and bays including The King & His Nobles and the romantic sounding Port Moon.

Stairway to heaven

Veteran hillwalkers will love the chance to trek up Cuilcagh Boardwalk in County Fermanagh. Nicknamed the Stairway to Heaven this exhilarating experience into the wild, across bogland takes you to views of silent beauty across beautifully bleak countryside. Reward yourself after your trek up the boardwalk by enjoying refreshments beside the Marina in The Moorings, Bellanaleck.

An island in the Orchard County

There are a choice of walking trails in Armagh’s Oxford Island Nature Reserve and you can do a spot of bird watching while you’re there too. With woodland, ponds and wildflower meadows, there’ll be plenty to chirp about over dinner at the award-winning Clenaghans Restaurant in nearby Aghalee. That said, once the Blood Orange Parfait, Chocolate Cremeux and Sourdough Crumb dessert arrives you might have difficulty speaking.

Walk it off the next day at Peatlands Park on one of five walks over lakeland or parkland. Alternatively, you could try the second largest public park in Ireland, Lurgan Park, where you’ll come across a massive hand-dug lake and beautifully manicured grounds. Five minutes from here, you’ll also find the Courthouse Bar in Lurgan. Enjoy a drink in the courtroom, gallery, library or al fresco in the beer garden at this former magistrate’s court.

Be sure to share your wonderful walks on social media and tag us #EmbraceaGiantAdventure.

Hilden Brewery
Brewery
Image is of a beer being pulled on tap at Hilden Brewery

Hilden Brewery is Ireland's Oldest Independent Brewery. We have been running for over 40 years and in the last seven have added a second brew house, a bottling line and a canning line.

The Tap Room
Restaurant
Image is of tables and chairs in the restaurant

The Tap Room Restaurant is located in the Georgian Courtyard of Hilden House adjacent to Hilden Brewery and is the ideal location for al fresco dining on a summer’s day or for a cosy supper in front of the fire.

Crawfordsburn Country Park
Public Park
a photograph of waves hitting the rocks at the shore

With tranquil walks through peaceful meadows and wooded glens and a stunning waterfall, Crawfordsburn Country Park provides a relaxing natural retreat.

The Old Inn
Hotel
Two ladies sitting beside the outdoor hot tub

The Old Inn is like home away from home, with personable service and an easy-going atmosphere. Guests can kick off their shoes and get comfortable in a guestroom that suits every mood. Amp up the luxury with Suites that offer their own private hot tub.

Murlough National Nature Reserve
The National Trust
Murlough National Nature Reserve

Murlough National Nature Reserve is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967. It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching.

The Maghera Inn
Restaurant
The Maghera Inn

You are invited to enjoy the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Maghera Inn and Bistro. Pretty as a picture and one of the finest family owned pubs that you are likely to come across. Awarded FRLT NI Pub of the Year 2007.

Hugh McCann's Cafe Bar Deli
Restaurant
Hugh McCann's Cafe Bar Deli

Hugh McCann's has a spectacular location opposite Newcastle's new promenade with panoramic sea views. The two hundred year old building is fully restored with antique fixtures and fittings.

Castle Ward
The National Trust
Castle Ward

Discover a place of contrasts and creativity at Castle Ward, an eccentric 18th century mansion and estate looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in County Down.

The Cuan Restaurant
Restaurant
The Cuan Restaurant

The success of The Cuan has been built on consistently serving excellent food and drink coupled with exceptional customer service. A strong emphasis is placed on using fresh ingredients and sourcing our produce locally. Stay over in our bedrooms.

Dunluce CastleDunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is located dramatically close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea, along the North County Antrim coast.

Old Bushmills Distillery
Distillery
Old Bushmills Distillery

In 1608, in Bushmills, a legend was born. In that year, King James I granted a very particular licence to this small village, just a few miles inland from Ireland’s rugged north coast. The licence gave Bushmills the right to distil whiskey. Today, Bushmills is home to the oldest licenced whiskey distillery in the world.

Bushmills Inn Hotel
Hotel
Bushmills Inn Hotel

The Bushmills Inn is a luxury Hotel with an AA Rosette restaurant in the heart of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast. One of Ireland’s most well known luxurious hotels, The Bushmills Inn boasts open turf fires, gas lights and hidden nooks & crannies.

Causeway Hotel
Hotel
Causeway Hotel

A stay in the award-winning Causeway Hotel provides an experience that nowhere in the world can offer. A stone's throw away from the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's a place where magical memories are honed.

Giant's Causeway
The National Trust
The basalt stones at the giants causeway stretch into the sea

Follow in the footsteps of giants at Northern Ireland's iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basalt columns of the Causeway landscape were left by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago. All visitors are encouraged to book Visitor Experience tickets online in advance of arrival onsite.

Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
Walking & Hiking
Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail

The Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail meanders through one of the largest expanses of blanket bog in Northern Ireland, traversing over tracks, boardwalk and staircase. A steep climb is required to reach the viewing platform which provides breath taking views of the surrounding low lands.

The Moorings Restaurant
Restaurant
The Moorings Restaurant

The award-winning Moorings Restaurant is a family run business situated on the shore of Lough Erne at Bellanaleck.

Oxford Island
Nature and Wildlife
Oxford Island

Oxford Island National Nature Reserve is a peninsula created by successive lowering of Lough Neagh. Four miles of footpaths, five birdwatching hides, woodland, ponds, wildflower meadows, picnic and play areas.

Clenaghans Restaurant
Restaurant
Image shows tables in the restaurant with lots of paintings on the walls, wooden beams and wooden flooring, stone walls

Clenaghans restaurant is brought back to life with modern comfort warming the traditional stone building.

Peatlands Park
Nature and Wildlife
Peatlands Park

We invite you to come and explore Peatlands Park. This beautiful area has a wonderful wilderness appeal and is situated near the shores of Lough Neagh just off the MI at exit 13 south of Dungannon.

Lurgan Park
Public Park
Lurgan Park

Lurgan Park is the second largest public park in Ireland, and is enjoyed by as many as 2000 people every day. The beautifully landscaped parkland contains a number of well maintained paths which provide excellent walking and running ground.