Ulster Way

The Ulster Way is a series of walking routes which encircle the Irish province of Ulster. It was founded in the 1970s by Wilfrid Merydith Capper,[2][3] who was inspired by Tom Stephenson's Pennine Way.[4][5] The route was relaunched in 2009 by the Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland).

Most of the trail lies within Northern Ireland, the remainder being in the Republic of Ireland. The path visits many places of interest including the Mourne Mountains, Giant's Causeway, Cavehill and the Sperrins. Most of the sections are clearly sign-posted.

Ulster Way
Ulster Way, August 2009
Ulster Way sign near Strangford, August 2009.
Length625 miles (1,006 kilometres)[1]
LocationNorthern Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Hiking details
SightsMourne Mountains, Fermanagh lakeland, Sperrin Mountains, Giant's Causeway
SurfaceMountain, field and cliff paths; roads.


Signing on the shore of Belfast Lough in Holywood.

Wilfrid Capper developed the idea for the Ulster Way in 1946, as a waymarked trail that would pass through the six counties of Northern Ireland, linking 15 youth hostels which were in place at the time.[3] Once implemented, this original route stretched for 665 miles.[3]

Towards the end of the 20th century, large sections of the trail fell into disrepair or were "lost" due to increased car traffic on some of the road sections, and ambiguity of ownership and land access rights.[6]

In April 2003, Environment Minister Angela Smith MP announced a project to improve and maintain the Ulster Way.[7] A new route was agreed in early 2009.[3] The new route was officially opened on 16 September 2009. This revised route is 625 miles;[5][8] the first people to hike the entire revised route are thought to be schoolboys Matthew Hoper and Simon Harris, who completed it between 28 June and 4 August 2010.[9]


  1. ^ "The Ulster Way". Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland). Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Wilfrid Merydith Capper (1905 - 1998): Countryside Campaigner". Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Ulster History Circle. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "History of the Ulster Way - From Concept to Realisation". Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  4. ^ Presenter: Clare Balding (2 March 2007). "The Ulster Way". Ramblings. BBC Radio 4.
  5. ^ a b "New Province-wide walking route launched". The News Letter. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  6. ^ "The end of the road for NI walkway?". BBC News. 20 March 2002. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  7. ^ "Ulster Way update at May 2009". Northern Ireland Environment Agency. May 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  8. ^ Stewart, Linda (16 September 2009). "Get your boots on, the Ulster Way is back on the map". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  9. ^ "Boys back from 625 mile 'dander' round Ulster". Carrick Times. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2016.

Further reading

Several books have been published as a guide to walking the route. Including:

  • The Ulster Way, Paddy Dillon, The O'Brien Press, 1999, ISBN 0-86278-589-8
  • Walking the Ulster Way, Alan Warner, Appletree Press, 1989, ISBN 0-86281-227-5
  • Beyond Belfast: a 560-mile walk across Northern Ireland on sore feet, Will Ferguson, Penguin Group (Canada), 2009, ISBN 978-0-14-317062-4. A travel memoir / novel with many side stories and pieces of background information.

Coordinates: 55°15′00″N 6°29′06″W / 55.250°N 6.485°W

Beara-Breifne Way

The Beara-Breifne Way is a long distance walking and cycling trail being developed from the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland, to Blacklion in the area of Breifne in County Cavan. The trail follows closely the line of the historical march of O’Sullivan Beare.

Benaughlin Mountain

Benaughlin Mountain (from Irish: Binn Eachlabhra) is a mountain in the Cuilcagh Mountain range in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Its composition is mainly of sandstone, limestone and shale.

At its highest point, Benaughlin is 373 metres (1,224 ft) above sea level. A section of the Ulster Way passes around the side of the mountain, within 300 m of the summit.The name Benaughlin comes from the Irish: Binn Eachlabhra which means "peak of the speaking horse". Legends tell of a large, white horse (An Chopail Bán) which would appear on the slopes of the mountain each year on the last Sunday of July, and talk to local people. The mountain is also known as Bin Mountain to local residents.

The blanket bog which covers the mountain was used as a source of fuel for the wealthy landowners in the area who lived in the nearby stately home of Florence Court. A path known as the Donkey Trail meanders up the side of the mountain; this was the route used for bringing the turf down off the mountain side.


Blacklion (Irish: An Blaic; also An Leargaidh) is a border village in west County Cavan, Ireland. It is situated on the N16 national primary road, just across the border from the County Fermanagh village of Belcoo.

Cavan Way

The Cavan Way (Irish: Slí an Cabhán) is a long-distance trail in County Cavan, Ireland. It is 22 kilometres (14 miles) long and begins in Blacklion and ends in Dowra. It is typically completed in one day. It is designated as a National Waymarked Trail by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council and is managed by Cavan County Council. The trail was devised by a local man, Harold Johnston, and set up by the Blacklion Community Council and the Cavan County Development Team between 1984 and 1985.From Blacklion, the Way climbs into the hills above the village, looking over Upper and Lower Lough MacNean, before passing along the outskirts of The Cavan Burren and past the Giant's Grave, an ancient passage tomb and the highest point on the trail. The route descends and passes the Moneygashel crossroads, where the remains of a sweat house may be found. The route then passes the Shannon Pot, the small pool which is the source of the River Shannon. After following the banks of the Shannon for a few kilometres, the Way reaches a road which leads to the end of the trail at Dowra.The Cavan Way provides a connection between the Leitrim Way at Dowra and the Ulster Way at Blacklion. It forms part of the Beara-Breifne Way, a walking and cycling route under development, intended to run from the Beara Peninsula, County Cork to Breifne, County Leitrim following the line of Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare's march in the aftermath of the Battle of Kinsale in 1602.

Clandeboye Estate

The Clandeboye Estate is a country estate located in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, 12 miles (19 km) outside Belfast. Covering 2,000 acres (8.1 km2), it contains woodlands, formal and walled gardens, lawns, a lake, and 250 hectares (620 acres) of farmland. The estate is currently home to Lindy, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, widow of the last Marquess (the title being extinct).

Ireland Way

The Ireland Way is Ireland's longest coast-to-coast walking and cycling trail that joins the newly developed Beara-Breifne Way to the Ulster Way on the island of Ireland. The trail goes from the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Republic of Ireland to Ballycastle, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. The Beara-Breifne Way trail follows closely the line of the historical march of O’Sullivan Beare. One of the first people to walk the Ireland Way in one go was a Canadian woman named Maysen Forbes in 2017.

Jim Manley

Jim Manley is an artist, born on 17 January 1934, in St Helens, Lancashire, England. He has lived in Killough, County Down, Northern Ireland since 1971. He uses mixed media (mainly water colours and acrylic).

Kieran Doherty (writer)

Kieran Doherty is a Northern Irish writer, TV format creator and Executive Producer. He is also the Joint Managing Director of Stellify Media, alongside his creative and business partner, Matthew Worthy. Doherty & Worthy have co-created multiple entertainment formats - including the international formats Secret Fortune and Take The Money and Run - while working for UK independent production company Wild Rover Productions. In 2014 Doherty & Worthy launched the production company Stellify Media as a joint venture with Sony Pictures Television. Stellify Media is best known for successfully rebooting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with Jeremy Clarkson for ITV, and Blind Date with Paul O'Grady for Channel 5.Doherty currently serves as PACT director for Northern Ireland and Chair of the Royal Television Society Northern Ireland. He is on the steering committee for The Belfast Media Festival and is also a founding member of the Media Therapy Group, the largest media networking group in Ireland.


Knockmoyle ( nok-MOYL; from Irish: an Cnoc Maol, meaning "the bald hill") is a hamlet and townland approximately 8 kilometres northwest of Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. In the 2001 census the Knockmoyle area had 141 households and a population of 329. It has a post office, church (est. 1800) and public house. The nearby River Strule is well known for its trout fishing. Other attractions nearby include the Gortin Glens Forest Park and the Ulster American Folk Park. The Ulster Way walking route passes through Knockmoyle.

List of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom

There are hundreds of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom designated in publications from public authorities, guidebooks and OS maps. They are mainly used for hiking and walking, but some may also be used, in whole or in part, for mountain biking and horse riding. Most are in rural landscapes, in varying terrain, some passing through National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is no formal definition of a long-distance path, though the British Long Distance Walkers Association defines one as a route "20 miles [32 km] or more in length and mainly off-road." They usually follow existing rights of way, often over private land, joined together and sometimes waymarked to make a named route. Generally, the surface is not specially prepared, with rough ground, uneven surfaces and stiles, which can cause accessibility issues for people with disabilities. Exceptions to this can be converted railways, canal towpaths and some popular fell walking routes where stone-pitching and slabs have been laid to prevent erosion. Many long-distance footpaths are arranged around a particular theme such as one specific range of hills or a historical or geographical connection.

Lists of long-distance trails in the Republic of Ireland

These are lists of long-distance trails in Ireland, and include recognised and maintained walking trails, pilgrim trails, cycling greenways, boardwalk-mountain trails, and interconnected national and international trail systems. Access is noted as the greatest obstacle to developing trails as Ireland has weak supporting legislation.

There are 43 National Waymarked Trails by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council. Each trail is waymarked with square black posts containing an image, in yellow, of a walking man and a directional arrow, a symbol reserved for use only by National Waymarked Trails. The oldest trail is the Wicklow Way, which was opened in 1980, and there are now over 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) of waymarked trails Ireland. The most frequented trails are the Wicklow, Sheep's Head, Kerry, Dingle, Beara, Burren and Western Ways. The standard of many of these trails are below international comparison, with access noted as the greatest obstacle.

In 1997, the Heritage Council, started developing a series of walking routes based on medieval pilgrimage paths, and there are now 124 kilometres (77 miles) of major penitential trails: Cnoc na dTobar, Cosán na Naomh, St. Finbarr's Pilgrim Path, Saint Kevin's Way, and Tochar Phádraig. These pilgrim trails, and seven others, are supported by Pilgrim Paths of Ireland who follow the same guidelines for developing National Waymarked Trails.

In 2017, the 46-kilometre Waterford Greenway was opened for cyclists, and many others are planned or in development. Many of the National Waymarked Trails form part of larger long-distance and transnational trails such as European walking route E8, the Beara-Breifne Way and the International Appalachian Trail.

Newry Canal

The Newry Canal, located in Northern Ireland, was built to link the Tyrone coalfields (via Lough Neagh and the River Bann) to the Irish Sea at Carlingford Lough near Newry. It was the first summit level canal to be built in Ireland or Great Britain, and pre-dated the more famous Bridgewater Canal by nearly thirty years and Sankey Canal by fifteen years. It was authorised by the Commissioners of Inland Navigation for Ireland, and was publicly funded. It was opened in 1742, but there were issues with the lock construction, the width of the summit level and the water supply. Below Newry, a ship canal was opened in 1769, and both Newry and the canal flourished.

By 1800, the canal was in a poor condition, and another £57,000 of public money was spent refurbishing it over the following ten years. Closures during the refurbishment resulted in a loss of traffic, which did not fully recover. In 1829, both canals were transferred to a private company, who spent £80,000 on improvements over the next twenty years. The ship canal was enlarged in 1884, to allow ships of 5,000 tons to reach Newry. It reverted to public ownership in 1901, when the Newry Port and Harbour Authority was created. The canal closed in 1936 and most of it was officially abandoned in 1949, with some in 1956. The ship canal closed in 1966 and the Authority was wound up in 1974.

Two sections of the redundant canal were bought by local authorities, for two pounds each, and the middle section was given to another two local authorities. The ship canal has been reopened for use by pleasure craft, and there have been attempts to reopen the Newry Canal, which have not yet been successful. The towpath has become part of a long distance footpath and also part of the National Cycle Network. Some restoration has taken place, and the canal has become a haven for wildlife. Parts of it are also used for coarse fishing.


Portstewart (Irish: Port Stíobhaird) is a small town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,029 people in the 2011 Census. It is a seaside resort neighbouring Portrush. Its harbour and scenic coastal paths form an Atlantic promenade leading to 2 miles of golden strand (Portstewart Strand). Portstewart is probably best known for this sandy beach, popular with surfers.

Right of way

Right of way is "the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another", or "a path or thoroughfare subject to such a right". This article is mainly about access by foot, by bicycle, horseback, or along a waterway, and Right-of-way (transportation) focusses on highways, railways, pipelines, etc. A footpath is a right of way that can only be used by pedestrians.

A similar right of access also exists on some public land in the United States. In Canada, Australia and New Zealand, such land may alternatively be called Crown land.

In some countries, especially in Northern Europe, where the freedom to roam has historically taken the form of general public rights, a right of way may not be restricted to specific paths or trails.

When one person owns a piece of land which is bordered on all sides by lands owned by others, a court will be obliged to grant that person a right of way through the bordering land.

Scawt Hill

Scawt Hill is a volcanic plug in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in the borough of Larne, 5 km from the village of Ballygalley.It gets its name from the Ulster Scots 'scawd' meaning scaly, scabby or rugged. Alternately, 'scawt' meaning scruffy and contemptible, and when applied to rocks, covered in barnacles.

Walking in the United Kingdom

Walking is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United Kingdom, and within England and Wales there is a comprehensive network of rights of way that permits access to the countryside. Furthermore, access to much uncultivated and unenclosed land has opened up since the enactment of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. In Scotland the ancient tradition of universal access to land was formally codified under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. However, there are few rights of way, or other access to land in Northern Ireland.

Walking is used in the United Kingdom to describe a range of activity, from a walk in the park to trekking in the Alps. The word "hiking" is used in the UK, but less often than walking; the word rambling (akin to roam) is also used, and the main organisation that supports walking is called The Ramblers. Walking in mountainous areas in the UK is called hillwalking, or in Northern England, including the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, fellwalking, from the dialect word fell, for high, uncultivated land. Mountain walking can sometimes involve scrambling.

White Abbey

White Abbey is a townland (of 406 acres) in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. The shoreline village, spelt Whiteabbey, was established within the townland of White Abbey in the late 19th century. Today, it is a location within the borough of Newtownabbey. White Abbey is part of the civil parish of Carnmoney and the historic barony of Belfast Lower.

Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way (Irish: Slí Cualann Nua, meaning "New Cuala Way") is a 131-kilometre (81-mile) long-distance trail that crosses the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. It runs from Marlay Park in the southern suburbs of Dublin through County Wicklow and ends in the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. It is designated as a National Waymarked Trail by the Irish Sports Council and is waymarked by posts with a yellow "walking man" symbol and a directional arrow. Typically completed in 5–7 days, it is one of the busiest of Ireland's National Waymarked Trails, with up to 24,000 people a year walking the most popular sections. The Way is also used regularly by a number of mountain running competitions.

The trail follows forest tracks, mountain paths, boreens and quiet country roads. Mountains, upland lakes and steep-sided glacial valleys make up the terrain of the initial northern sections of the Way before giving way to gentler rolling foothills in the latter southern sections. Much of the route follows the contact point between the igneous granite of the western side of Wicklow and the metamorphic schists and slates of the eastern side. The principal habitat of the upland sections is a mixture of broadleaf and coniferous woodland, heath and blanket bog while in the lowland sections the hedgerows marking the boundaries between fields support a variety of wildlife. The Way also passes the Monastic City at Glendalough, founded in the 6th century by Saint Kevin.

The Wicklow Way was originally proposed by J. B. Malone in a series of newspaper articles in 1966. In 1977, Malone was appointed to the Long Distance Walking Routes Committee of Cospoir, the National Sports Council and set about making the concept a reality. Malone’s original proposal for a circular route around Wicklow was dropped in favour of the linear route that exists today because the Government wanted the Wicklow Way to form part of a network of walking routes around the country. The first section opened in 1980 and the trail was fully completed in 1982. It became the first of many National Waymarked Trails to be developed in Ireland: there are now over forty such trails, covering a distance of over 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles). The Way forms part of European walking route E8 which stretches from the Atlantic coast of County Cork to Istanbul in Turkey. A memorial to J. B. Malone, who died in 1989, was erected on the Wicklow Way, near Lough Tay, in honour of his contribution.

The provision of and access to the routes through the countryside used by the Wicklow Way is dependent on agreement with local authorities and landowners. Accordingly the route has been criticised for excessive use of routes through forestry plantations and roads. Proposals to address these issues were put forward in a review of the National Waymarked Trails published in 2010.

Wilfrid Merydith Capper

Wilfrid Merydith Capper (12 July 1905 – 27 July 1998) was a countryside campaigner in Northern Ireland. Educated at Bangor Grammar School, Methodist College, and Queen’s University. Capper’s career in the forestry division of the Ministry of Agriculture fitted well with his interest in the countryside.

National Trails
(England and Wales)
Scotland's Great Trails
Long-distance path
(Northern Ireland)

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