Columban Way (Helen’s Bay/Crawsfordburn to Bangor)

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TYPELinear mainly coastal walk with option to use train to return to starting point.
DISTANCE5 miles / 8 km
SURFACESMostly on on hard surfaced made paths. Short sections on rougher and steeper earth paths at Grey Point and Stricklands Glen
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS130 feet climb
HAZARDS
  • Several road crossing with moderate traffic
  • In severe weather the path is exposed, particularly on the beach sections at spring tide..

This is the final section of the Columban Way from Carlow to Bangor and in some ways, it is the easiest. At only 5 miles long and with the sea on the left to guide you and a broad asphalt path to follow, a description almost seems redundant. However, it is also one of the most beautiful sections of the walk and it deserves to be taken slowly and enjoyed with full attention. The route described below also augments the council’s waymarked route to add extra interest and to reach back into the historical landscape to find current features which would have been largely familiar to Columbanus and the monks of Bangor.

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Columban Way (Comber to Newtownards)

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TYPEFirst section of a long-distance challenge walk which can be a walk in its own right with a bus option to return to start.
DISTANCE5 miles / 8 km
SURFACESMainly pavement and road walking, good compacted paths through the Country Park Section.
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS400 feet climb
HAZARDS
  • Some walking on low traffic roads without pavements.

  • Route passes close to abandoned quarries.
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Columban Way (Newtownards – Helen’s Bay Crawfordsburn)

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TYPEMixed but largely off-road linear walk with some climb as short steep sections
DISTANCE7.6 miles / 12.2 km
SURFACESRoads, pavements, unmade, sometimes muddy paths and well-made tracks
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS500 feet climb
HAZARDS
  • Some urban road walking and crossings
  • Mountain bikes and scramblers may be present around Whitespots
  • Three crossings over fast roads.
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Columban Way (Comber to Bangor)

The Columban Way forms part of the wider European ‘Via Columbani’. It traces the epic journey of St Columbanus, a 6th century monk, from his birthplace in Co. Carlow to Bangor Abbey and later across eight countries of Europe finishing in Bobbio, Italy. The Irish section of this walk is still very much a work in progress and in most places the exact route is still to be finalised. Ards and North Down Council has published a route on its website, but this uses two sections of paths not yet in existence.

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