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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Navar Forest Drive Walklets

The 7 mile Navar Forest driving route is a pleasant outing in itself, but can be greatly enhanced by adding on a bit of walking. The Blackslee Waterfall Walk and the nearby superb Correl Glen Nature Reserve and Carrick Viewpoint Walk are each described in their own posts. This post pulls together other short options which might suit changeable weather or a less active party of travellers.

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Woodburn Forest and the Knockagh Escarpment

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On arrival, you might think Woodburn Forest looks like just another Forest Service conifer plantation, but it is actually a reservoir catchment woodland controlled by Northern Ireland Water. It contains a descending chain of Victorian reservoirs (built 60 years before the Silent Valley), agricultural landscape history and an old (or ancient) roadway, which once ran to a beautiful glen, down through the Knockagh Escarpment past an ancient monastic site to Carrickfergus. Sadly this ‘Friar’s Glen’ is no longer publicly accessible, so instead this walk climbs to the Knockagh Monument on the high edge of the Escarpment with spectacular views over Belfast Lough, its settlements and surrounding hills.

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The Bleach Green Railway Viaducts and the “Loop”

(or it’s hard to get people out of Belfast)

Belfast Hills horseshoe from Redburn Country Park

Belfast is a city built at the end of a coastal inlet and surrounded by hills. Like many coastal cities, shipbuilding and sea travel feature large in its history and sense of identity. However, the surrounding hills, which played a key role in shaping its development, are strangely neglected.

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