If you’re looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, a day trip to the mountains near Belfast is the perfect solution. The rolling hills and stunning landscapes of Northern Ireland’s countryside are not to be missed. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a picturesque drive, there are plenty of options for a memorable day trip.
Here are some of the best places to go for a day trip to the mountains near Belfast:
- Slieve Donard
At 850 metres, Slieve Donard is the highest peak in Northern Ireland, and a must-visit for any avid hiker. Located in the heart of the Mourne Mountains, just 35 miles south of Belfast, this mountain offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and coastline. The climb to the summit takes around 2-3 hours, and there are several different routes to choose from depending on your level of experience.
For those who want to take it easy, the Donard Forest Park offers a number of walking trails through the forested foothills of the mountain. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including red squirrels, badgers, and foxes, as well as rare plants such as the mountain avens and spring gentian.
- Cave Hill
If you’re looking for a more accessible day trip, Cave Hill is the perfect option. Located just north of Belfast, this mountain is easily accessible by car or public transport, and offers stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside. The summit of Cave Hill is marked by an iconic 35-metre tower known as McArt’s Fort, which was built in the 19th century as a lookout point.
There are several different walking trails up Cave Hill, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. The most popular route is the Cave Hill Country Park trail, which takes around 2 hours to complete and offers stunning views of Belfast Lough and the Antrim Coast.
For those interested in history and mythology, a day trip to Slemish is a must. Located around 30 miles north of Belfast, this mountain is believed to be the site where St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, tended sheep as a young man. Legend has it that he was kidnapped from his home in Britain and brought to Ireland as a slave, where he eventually escaped and returned to Britain before returning to Ireland as a missionary.
Today, Slemish is a popular pilgrimage site, and many visitors make the climb to the summit in honour of St. Patrick. The climb takes around 2 hours and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. There is also a visitor centre at the foot of the mountain, which offers guided tours and information about the history and folklore of the area.
- Tollymore Forest Park
If you’re looking for a day trip that combines hiking with stunning scenery, Tollymore Forest Park is the perfect option. Located just 30 miles south of Belfast, this park is home to a wide variety of walking trails that wind through the forests and along the riverbanks of the nearby Shimna River.
The park is also home to a number of historic buildings, including the Gothic-style Tollymore House and the picturesque Hermitage. Visitors can also take part in a range of activities, including archery, orienteering, and camping.
- Silent Valley
For those looking for a more remote and peaceful day trip, Silent Valley is the perfect option. Located in the heart of the Mourne Mountains, around 35 miles south of Belfast, this secluded valley is home to a stunning reservoir and a range of walking trails that wind through the surrounding hills and forests.
The reservoir itself is an impressive feat of engineering, and visitors can take a tour of the Silent Valley Hydroelectric Power Station, which generates electricity using water from the reservoir. There is also a visitor centre at the site, which provides information about the history and ecology of the area.
The walking trails in Silent Valley range from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, and offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The Mourne Wall, a 22-mile long wall that traverses the mountains, passes through Silent Valley and offers a challenging route for experienced hikers.
- Divis Mountain
Located just 7 miles west of Belfast, Divis Mountain is the perfect day trip for those looking for a quick escape from the city. This mountain offers stunning views of Belfast and the surrounding countryside, and is easily accessible by car or public transport.
The summit of Divis Mountain is marked by a cairn, which offers panoramic views of Belfast, Lough Neagh, and even Scotland on a clear day. There are several different walking trails up Divis Mountain, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, and the nearby Divis Ridge Trail offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
- Glenariff Forest Park
Located around 45 miles north of Belfast, Glenariff Forest Park is a must-visit for any nature lover. This park is home to a stunning waterfall, which is easily accessible by a short walk from the car park, as well as a range of walking trails that wind through the surrounding forests and hills.
The park is also home to a number of historic buildings, including the Glenariff Tea House, which was built in the 1920s and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also take part in a range of activities, including fishing, cycling, and camping.
In conclusion, a day trip to the mountains near Belfast is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the stunning landscapes of Northern Ireland. From the rugged peaks of Slieve Donard to the peaceful valleys of Silent Valley, there is something for everyone in this beautiful region. So pack your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the natural beauty of Northern Ireland.