Categories: things to do

Although things may look a little different right now, there are still plenty of places to discover, right on your doorstep.  Our health and wellbeing are paramount in these strange times so wrap up and explore what the outdoors in Northern Ireland has to offer this autumn.   As we’re staying at home and indoors more than usual, it can be easy to forget what may be awaiting us only a short distance away.   

The benefits of a good walk in the outdoors and connecting with nature has been proven to lift our moods, so why not blow the cobwebs off with some of these suggestions. 

Although the houses and indoor elements of the experiences below are closed, many of the suggestions do still require pre-booking, so please check well in advance to avoid disappointment.  

Please see the latest guidelines from NI Direct, which includes guidance on travelling to outdoor spaces.

Hillsborough Castle Gardens, County Down 

The castle may be closed for the winter period but the beautiful gardens are still open for exploring.  Enjoy 100 acres of world-famous royal gardens.  The autumnal colours at this time of year will be especially worth a look.  Try the 18th-century Walled Garden, the Lost Garden, the Granville Garden and Lady Alice’s Temple.  To enable social distancing, tickets must be pre-booked and there is no restriction on how long you can stay!   

The Gobbins, County Antrim 

What better way to blow the cobwebs off than with a walk along this exhilarating coastal cliff path.  Your trip begins via a hole through a rock called Wise’s Eye.  Make your way along the paths, walkways, tubular bridges and tunnels on this dramatic walk and take in the stunning views while breathing in the sea air.  Your tour guide will tell the story of its creation at the turn of the 20th century.  So pull on your walking boots for a two and a half hour walking tour.  (Tours are capped at 10 people to enable social distancing). 

Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim 

While the Visitor Centre is currently closed, The Giant’s Causeway is still welcoming visitors to enjoy the walk and the legendary stones themselves.  Walk in the footsteps of giants – legend has it these rock formations and world-famous basalt columns were created by a giant back in the day!   

Montalto Estate, County Down 

In the picturesque County Down countryside, the stunning Montalto Estate with trails and gardens is still open to explore.    Highlights of the estate include beautiful gardens such as the Winter Garden and Alpine Garden, an impressive purpose built tree house, Woodland Trail and tranquil walks with stunning views of the gardens and wildlife.   

The Argory, County Armagh 

The house and facilities are closed at the moment but that shouldn’t stop you popping by for a visit to enjoy the beautiful autumnal nature surrounding it.  Take a stroll around the 320 acre wooded estate and enjoy the wonderful views over the gardens.  Also on site are the woodland and riverside way-marked trails. 

Castle Ward, County Down 

While the house may be closed at present, the surrounding garden and trails are still available to enjoy.  Join in on the Picture Perfect Moments Trail.  Across the estate try and spot the 9 frames where arguably the best views are – try them out, but also try and discover your own new ones along the way.  If you fancy exploring on 2 wheels instead then try out the cycle trails.  See which species of wildlife you can spot along the way or try identifying the rare plants found here too.   

Mount Stewart, County Down 

Trails to explore and gardens to wander around – Mount Stewart is perfect for an autumn day out and getting back to nature.  Admire the stunning colours of the red and golden leaves on the trees - catch them before they fall or enjoy that satisfying crunch as you walk through them on the ground.  With beautiful gardens and a lake walk, now is the perfect time to appreciate the beauty of nature on the shores of Strangford Lough.   

Rowallane Gardens, County Down 

Rowallane is one of the most beautiful gardens in Northern Ireland - enjoy a leisurely stroll, or simply relax and take in your surroundings in the walled garden.  Immerse yourself in nature and escape from the outside world.  In autumn, spot the scarlet and gold leaves on the trees, many adorned with berries which attract wild birds. 

Florence Court, County Fermanagh 

About eight miles outside of Enniskillen, you will find Florence Court situated against the wild mountain backdrop of the Cuilcagh Mountain.  Although there is no access to the house at present, glorious grounds with a beautiful walled garden should be enough to tempt you to visit – see if you can spot the famous Florence Court Yew.  You can also find 15 kilometres of trails here, more than enough to wander along and get some much-needed fresh air.   

Castle Coole, County Fermanagh 

Another gem in Fermanagh and situated just outside Enniskillen, Castle Coole, with its wooded landscape park sloping down to Lough Coole is ideal for long walks.  Your four-legged friend is welcome to accompany you too (dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds).   

Blessingbourne, County Tyrone 

Vibrant autumnal colours are in store on a visit to Blessingbourne and now is the perfect time to explore the woods.  With over 550 acres of grounds to walk, cycle and explore, choose your method, whether on foot, two wheels or on horseback. 

Mussenden, County Londonderry 

Enjoy this spectacular clifftop walk with stunning views along the coast.  The grounds at Downhill Demense and Mussenden Temple are open for walkers keen to get out and get their daily dose of fresh air.   

Roe Valley Country Park, County Londonderry

Scenic and tranquil - the perfect location for a mindful walk and getting back to nature.  The riverside views and woodland walks here are nothing short of spectacular.  Be sure to try and spot the foxes, badgers and otters that live here.

Enjoying a walk in our forests or beauty spots? Please make sure you dispose of your litter in the bins or if they are full please take it home with you. Practice social distancing and remember PPE should be placed in the general waste as it cannot be recycled 

For more information on current guidelines please check out Know Before You Go.

If you are out and about and take some snaps, be sure to tag us at #MyGiantAdventure