As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, Northern Ireland is a haven of outdoor beauty spots. Every county’s parks have their own unique asset, whether that be a hidden gym of tranquility tucked away within a busy town, or as a beautifully landscaped outdoor park set amidst rural life. Today we’ll look at 6 of Northern Ireland’s best parks.
The pyramid welcome of Carnfunnock Country Park is incredibly distinctive and a good indicator of the creative thought and unique approach this park takes. Set across a huge area of mixed woodland, the site is home a hedge maze, walking trails along coastline and beautiful gardens, a 9 hole golf course, biodiversity trail, children’s adventure playground AND a wildlife garden!
Carnfunnock Country Park is also one of a growing number of locations around Northern Ireland which has a Changing Places Toilet, and is widely considered to be an invaluable educational location for children.
With so much to see and do there, you might just need several visits.
A great example of the simpler parks, Dungannon park is, as seen during the pandemic, an incredibly important site to let local people get into the outdoors without having to travel for miles on end. It’s home to open parkland, mature woodland (which is mostly beech) and of course Dungannon Lake. The site is also a popular spot for fishing and families can enjoy seeing the reconstructed towers and small duck pond which are all within short walking distance of each other. There is also accessible parking and accessible toilets on site.
Set along the shores of the stunning Lough Erne, Castle Archdale has a history dating back to the 17th century. Castle Archdale has plenty of walking trails and cycling trails to keep the whole family entertained, as well as boats available to hire for anyone interested in exploring any of the many nearby islands.
Castle Archdale housed up to 2,500 military personnel during the Second World War and was a major base for flying boats. Today the Archdale Visitor’s Centre is home to many exhibits, including it’s part in the war effort.
There is also a butterfly garden, wildflower meadow and dear enclosure, as well as pony trekking on offer.
Similar to Dungannon Park, Christie Park is an oasis of calm right in the centre of a town centre – in this case, Coleraine. With trails that allow you to walk or cycle alongside the River Bann before finishing up close to the Cutts area and opposite the historic Mountsandel Fort. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.
While you’ll pass through two different council parks on this walk, they both have very different habitats and are managed in different ways creating two very different experiences.
People travel from all over the island of Ireland to witness Mount Stewart’s famous gardens which boast incredibly inspiring landscapes that are vibrant the year round. Part of the National Trust, Mount Stewart also contains plenty of walking trails, including those which take you close to Strangford Lough, where you can access the Strangford Lough Canoe Trail.
The Londonderry’s family home is also located here and visitors are able to visit the house which was reopened in 2015 after years of refurbishment.
Located close to the centre of the county, Loughgall is a hive of activity that caters to almost anything you might be looking for in the outdoors. Walkers can enjoy scenic tours around the lake and take in the sights of the different birds which use the area, like ducks, swans and cormorants. Tennis courts are available, as is a popular golf course. Fishing, football pitches and a children’s play area round off the veritable buffet of activities which combine to create a park which feels alive with people doing things they enjoy.
To see a full list of Northern Ireland’s parks, visit OutmoreNI.com and select ‘Parks’ from the filter options.
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