Many people don’t realise the beauty that County Down has to offer. Not only is it surrounded by rolling hills and tranquil waters – it is also home to some of the most famous mountains in the whole of Northern Ireland.
With this in mind, County Down makes the perfect place to enjoy a scenic walk. There’s so many options to choose from, so we’ve curated a list of our top favourites for you to try, whether you’re a local or a tourist.
Our Favourite Walks in County Down
While the list of beauty spots in County Down is truly endless – here are our top tour walks you should try next time you’re nearby:
The Floodgates, Newtownards
The Floodgates is a linear walking route across the northern strand of Strangford Lough. The route crosses the sea defenses that protect lands to the south of Newtownards.
On your dander, you will walk side-by-side with the waters on your left, and Ulster Flying Club on your right. As you walk down this peaceful trail, you will have a constant scenic view of Scrabo Tower, as well as pass by the quaint Ards allotments that are intricately tended to by the locals.
Depending on the time of day, you will either see the tide in or out of the peninsula, both offering a spectacular sight of what nature can do. No matter what time of day you go, you will enjoy panoramic views of the stunning scenery, plus plenty of wildlife for those who love to go birdwatching and fishing.
The trek is flat, stretching over 2.3 miles each way, making it approximately four and half miles there and back.
Tollymore Forest Park, Newcastle
As it is nestled at the foot of Northern Ireland’s most stunning summit, Tollymore Forest Park is renowned for its panoramic views of the surrounding Mourne Mountains.
Open to the public all year, the forest park covers an area of nearly 630 hectares, with plenty to discover along the way.
The walks at Tollymore are split into four, varying in lengths, routes and views of the park’s most beautiful areas. The trails are named, and all follow a circular route for clear signposting – making them perfect for newcomers and returning visitors alike.
First up, there’s the Blue Trail which is the park’s shortest route, lasting about half a mile. When following the path, expect to meander past various species of trees from all over the world, including the remnants of a lightning struck Giant Redwood and a thickly barked cork tree.
The Red Trail is also known as the ‘Rivers Trail’, lasting a total of three miles. It takes you past the rushing Shimna River, over Parnell’s Bridge down towards the Hermitage, where you can also experience wonderous views of the Pot of Legawherry.
The Black Trail is also alternatively known as the ‘Mountain Trail’, stretching five and a half miles. On this walk, you will pass through a beech woodland which is best enjoyed in the Spring, when the land is scattered with beautiful bluebells. You’ll get to experience the Shimna River and Parnell’s Bridge when on this trek. This trail will also bring you amazing views of Luke’s Mountain, as well as Spinkwee River, Hore’s Bridge and Ivy Bridge.
If you want to keep going, the Black Trail (or Drinns Trail) can add another three miles by circling around the Drinns that run along the boundary wall. This way, you can see views of Bryansford, Castlewellan and Slieve Croob on your return.
Not just open for walks, you can also camp at Tollymore or even park up your caravan, motorhome or campervan. You can also do touring, horseback riding and orienteering.
Walled Garden, Bangor
Conveniently located opposite Bangor train station, the Walled Garden offers a walk that is popular with visitors of all ages.
Originally designed in the 1840s, the Walled Garden is a spectacular piece of history, as it was once known as ‘the secret garden’ of the Ward family.
Divided into four different sections, each with its own horticultural personality, the garden offers plenty of impressive design and charm for visitors to appreciate. It also boasts other interesting and entertaining features, such as:
- Pieces of sculpture inspired by North Down’s maritime history
- Bangor’s old bandstand
- Coffee shop
- Water fountains
- Bangor town hall
- Castle park
- Formal tours that can be requested prior to arrival.
With so much to see, this walk is perfect for spending a couple of leisurely hours taking in the beauty of the seaside town of Bangor.
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Hillsborough
Also known as Northern Ireland’s ‘Royal Residence’, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens make an unforgettable walk boasting many scenic views and things to do.
In the gardens, you can explore 100 acres of grounds, including picturesque lawns, woodlands, waterways and glens. Developed from the 1760s onwards, the gardens offer many unique features to gaze upon, including:
- The Walled Garden
- Yew Tree Walk
- Moss Walk
- The Lake
- Lady Alice’s Temple
With so much to see and do, the gardens lend themselves beautifully throughout any season. Whether you’re wanting to unwind, contemplate or socialise – it is one scenic walk that never fails to disappoint its visitors.
After your walk, you can also relax and enjoy food from the award-winning cafe – meaning you can easily spend an entire day at the gardens being at one with nature.
Staying in County Down
County Down offers so many stunning walks for locals and tourists to enjoy. Whether it be to learn something new, or see new sights – you’ll have so much choice when you stay here.
If you want to make the most of your visit to County Down, Coach Road Cottages conveniently offers self-catering accommodations in two handy locations: Comber and Holywood. Both provide the perfect escapism, and are placed at the heart of County Down’s most scenic points – from the bustling seaside town of Holywood, to the rural countryside of Comber. To book, check out our Accommodations page.