Continuing our exploration of the great scenic walks of Northern Ireland there are even more great landscapes and natural wonders to see. Northern Ireland has a rugged coastline and an emerald green interior offering great opportunities to get out and about in the fresh air. But you do not have to travel far from the capital Belfast to start exploring the majestic countryside of this great part of the world. To get a superb view of the capital city then Cave Hill is the place to go.
Taking the trail up to Cave Hill is well worth the effort, from the summit there are expansive views of Belfast City and Belfast Bay. Cave Hill is quite a remarkable phenomenon and jutting out spectacularly from the landscape is the grand basaltic outcrop that the locals call Napoleon’s Nose. In the distance can be seen the mountains of Mourne, and if you are lucky and the weather is clement it is actually possible to see the Mull of Galloway and the Isle of Man. A truly splendid observation area and a great walk in the countryside.
The main feature of the North Antrim coast has to be the Giant’s Causeway. In 1986 this famous landmark was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is little wonder why. The Giant’s Causeway is made up of over forty thousand basalt columns that all interlock to form something unique and beautiful. There are many walks and trails around this world-famous geological phenomenon that each have their own special rewards. Because of its popularity it is best to time your visit outside of the tourist season so you can enjoy less crowded paths.
A rather sterner test even for more experienced hikers is the Cuilcagh Way, which spans over two counties, namely Fermanagh and Cavan. If you are prepared to take on the complete trail it is quite a grueling hike of around four and a half miles. The climb to the summit of the trek is six hundred and sixty-six feet, but thankfully now there is a wooden staircase of four hundred and fifty steps that can help you to the top. The staircase was not built just for walkers, but as a way to protect the bog that surrounds the mountain.
For our last great scenic walk of Northern Ireland, we return to the coast and the golden sands of Downhill Strand. Like great coastal walks anywhere there are of course great expanses of sandy beaches and sand dunes to explore. But Downhill Strand also offers its own waterfall, and the spectacular Mussenden Temple which was built in the 18th Century which is perched high on the cliff tops overlooking the bay. For those avid TV viewers of the hit series Game of Thrones you may recognize the beach as the rather eerie location of the Dragonstone.These marvelous walks underline just how diverse Northern Ireland and its landscape is, and if you are fortunate to visit this part of the world then do not forget to pack your hiking boots.