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.

TYPELong-distance challenge walk with mixed walking visiting three country parks and estate grounds. The route is described in three posts – each of which also works well as a stand-alone linear walk with good public transport options for return to the starting point.
DISTANCE17 miles / 26 km
SURFACESMixed, some road walking, good compacted paths and sections on rougher, potentially muddy trails.
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS1000 feet climb
HAZARDS
  • Some walking on low traffic roads without pavements
  • Section below abandoned quarries, but away from rock faces

The route described here is a high-quality walk, almost all off-road. It travels through Scrabo, Whitespots and Crawfordsburn Country Parks as well as the Clandeboye Estate. However, it is in most parts not waymarked and in places requires careful navigation to follow. There are also some wet and potentially muddy sections and good footwear is essential.

Fluctus Angelorum – a sculpture beside Bangor Abbey marking the site of Comgall’s Abbey – the end of this section of the Columban Way

At 17 miles this is definitely a challenging route and should only be attempted by very fit walkers. However, it can also be broken down into three much more manageable sections with public transport options to return to each starting point. With this in mind the way will be described in three sections each with its own maps and details of transport links.

Columban Way Sections

  • One – Comber to Newtownards (5 miles)
  • Two – Newtownards to Crawfordsburn
  • Three – Crawfordsburn to Bangor

Columban Way Maps (PDFs)

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