This extended Bank Holiday weekend, OutmoreNI.com is keen to encourage people to explore some new outdoor locations and avoid popular scenic spots that suffer from overcrowding to help enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
Its newly redeveloped website showcases a wealth of the many outdoor trails and places across Northern Ireland, sites that people may not have previously known. From those on their doorsteps to those wonderful hidden gems further afield.
Chair of Outdoor Recreation NI, parent owner of OutmoreNI.com, Dawson Stelfox MBE says: “More often the same small number of locations are visited, making trips to these hotspots not enjoyable and overstuffed. It also leads to people parking irresponsibly – blocking access for famers and emergency services. Plus, some of these locations lack sufficient amenities and services in order to cope with the demand.
“Therefore, we are asking people to plan ahead and do more research on our website around the full spectrum of outdoor sites across Northern Ireland, that provide the same outdoor experience, but do not suffer from overcrowding. We need to collectively manage the situation whilst ensuring that people get to explore the outdoors in an enjoyable yet safe way, protecting the local environment and agriculture in tandem.”
Here are some of our hidden favourites:
- Clare Glen can be described as a delightful walk along the banks of the River Cusher in County Armagh. Many of the trees in the wood are multi-stemmed and the wood may have been managed by coppicing in the past. Hazel is abundant, with oak, ash and wych elm over a stunning ground layer of wood anemone, wild garlic and bluebells, and several different species of orchid (when in season).
- Lagan & Lough Cycle Way is on National Cycle Network Route number 93 and 9 and is a 21 mile mostly traffic-free cycle and walking route connecting Lisburn, Belfast and Jordanstown. The route is suitable for novice and family cyclists of all ages and abilities and passes along the waterside of the Lagan Towpath and Belfast Lough.
- Davagh Forest lies in an untouched rural landscape of rolling hills and sweeping forests. Located approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown, Davagh Forest offers gentle mountain biking and walking trails as well as an impressive 16km red mountain biking trail with some rock slab drops you will never forget!
- Glenariff Nature Reserve and Waterfalls Walk: Walk through the river gorge and past spectacular waterfalls. Damp conditions ideal for ferns, mosses, and liverworts with several rare species present.
The innovative OutmoreNI website represents the largest online database of parks, scenic spots, beautiful trails, and legendary outdoor locations in Northern Ireland with over 800 trails and places listed. The interactive website houses a range of categories to choose from depending on what activity or place is desired by the user which are clearly represented by colour coded icons. For example, an orange foot print icon symbolises walking trails and a green park bench symbolises parks on the website. When a trail or place is selected, more information will be presented including distance, nearest town, trail directions, the facilities available, any points of interest including wildlife on site and how to actually get there. It also displays an image which encourages users to get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery the place or trail provides.
Don’t forgot when visiting an outdoor spot you can help protect it by following a few simple steps to ensure you stay on the ‘Right Side of Outside’ such as:
- Planning ahead by checking the weather and bringing the right equipment such as clothing, footwear, map, wet suit, paddles etc.
- Keeping your dog on a lead to avoid livestock worrying and disruption to wildlife
- Only camping or lighting a BBQ in a designated area
- Avoid starting open fires
- Only parking your car in designated spaces and don’t forget to consider local access
- Taking your dog waste and litter home with you