Set off into the countryside around Coleraine and the Lower Bann and enjoy a landscape punctuated by the ripple of water, the thrill of Mesolithic history and the beauty of birdsong.
Peaceful strolls through ancient woods, jaunts along glassy canal banks and forays into forests – the Lower Bann offers some great short walks that whisk you through centuries of history and right to the edge of Lough Neagh. Appreciate the wildlife, follow in the footsteps of ancient humans and relax on a quiet trail through some of the most idyllic landscapes on the island.
The rush of the river, the dart of birds and the bursts of lush green foliage would be enough to make this walk enjoyable, but history elevates it to something far more profound… Two paths, one along the river bank and one through the forest, bring you to an incredible Anglo-Norman fort blanketed in grass and boasting lovely views of the river and countryside beyond. But that's not all – Mounsandel is the site of the earliest known human habitation on the island of Ireland, dating back a head-melting 7000BC and while you can't actually visit the place of the earliest camp, you really do get the sense that history whispers through these woods…
Portglenone Forest Walk
Wrapped in nature, this delightful forest makes a perfect stop-off just outside the village of Portglenone. Visit in springtime, and you'll be treated to a magnificent shroud of bluebells that transform the woodland with a stunning surge of indigo blue. At other times, the short forest walks are just as tranquil and scenic, with views of the river and paths that meander through the woods.
Toome Canal Walk
Stretching alongside the mirror-like waters of the Toome Canal, this very pleasant walk leads right out to the tip of Lough Neagh, where panoramas of the vast waters spread out before you. Turn right on the way back and follow the pleasing little trail through a small wood filled with moss-covered trees twisting and turning out of the marshy waters.
Somerset Riverside Walk
Just on the edge of Coleraine, facing Mountsandel Wood, Somerset Forest offers pleasant walks along the western bank of the river. You can opt for the Christie Park and Somerset Walk along the riverbanks, taking in both parks, or opt for a looped walk around Somerset Forest where you're likely to spot heron, squirrels and birds.
Antrim Lough Shore Park
Grab a coffee from the Lough Shore Coffee House and take a stroll through this historic park, where swans bob on the water and kayakers paddle happily. It's a very relaxed place filled with several walking trails as well as summertime events such as the Viking Boat Race on Lough Neagh. Read all about the Game of Thrones® scenes filmed on Lough Neagh, jump on a boat trip around the lough or just sit back and enjoy the wildlife.
Hutchinson's Quay to Portna Riverside Trail
Walking along the riverbanks is one of the real joys of visiting the Lower Bann, and the towpath from Hutchinson's Quay to Portna feels like a real escape into nature. You can walk with the river at your side along this quiet track that brings you to Portna where one of the five River Bann locks is located.