Get walking to enjoy the delights of Co Armagh

Niall Crozier

Reporter:

Niall Crozier

Email:

niall.crozier@ulstergazette.co.uk

Sunday 31 July 2022 9:00

IF you haven’t yet visited or fully explored the ancient Cathedral City of Armagh, now is the time to hotfoot it and enjoy a summer ramble around one of the most visually stunning and historically intriguing locations on the island of Ireland.

As with any city, the best way to get to know Armagh is by foot.

Escape the city at The Mall

Located in the heart of Armagh, The Mall is a key attraction for anyone who loves to enjoy an oasis in the city centre.

Once a venue for horse-racing, cock-fighting and even bull-baiting back in the 19th century, today the Georgian landscaped park is a top walking spot for locals and visitors alike.

Offering a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle, The Mall is a firm favourite with busy workers soaking up the summer sun on their lunch hour.

If you’re short on time, The Mall is the best place to soak up Armagh’s cultural delights whilst feeling like you’re far away from the city, surrounded by impressively manicured parkland. Conveniently located, The Mall is the perfect spot to start further exploration of the city, with many of Armagh’s visitor attractions just a stone’s throw away.

With a 3.9-mile route, a walk through the grassy expanse will see you hit an energetic 9,000 steps, all the while surrounded by some of the city’s famous buildings.

Enjoy statues and sculptures along the way as you roam the Armagh Courthouse and Gaol before taking in Armagh County Museum and the beautiful Georgian terraces of Charlemont Place.

Take a spiritual walk at Palace Demesne

A short walk from the city centre sits the undulating parkland of the Palace Demesne, one of the glories of Armagh and the residence of the Archbishops of the Church of Ireland for just over 200 years (1770 to 1975).

Spanning some 300 acres, the Demesne itself is the creation of Archbishop Richard Robinson. With ambitions to make Armagh a city worthy of being Ireland’s Christian capital, Archbishop Robinson became known as ‘the builder of Armagh’ and after a visit to the Demesne you’ll see just why.

Once a venue for boxing matches and horse-racing, the Demesne has been transformed into magnificent meadows and formal gardens - including a ‘Garden of the Senses’ which provides a unique and engaging sensory experience.

With a modern play park and outdoor gym, there’s something for everyone to enjoy a memorable fresh air summer walk.

Walk in the footsteps of ancient ancestors at Navan Fort

Take the opportunity to blend history and a hike with a visit to Navan Fort.

The impressive earth mound offers fantastic views over St Patrick’s city.

Or, for a lighter ramble, take in the charming woodland walk that circles the base of Navan Fort which is believed to be a site of pre-Christian significance.

Its Gaelic name, Eamhain Mhacha, gives reference to Irish mythology and Navan Fort is said to have once been the headquarters of the Red Branch knights of the King of Ulster, Conchobar mac Nessa.

If history is your thing, it’s the perfect place to step back in time.

Gosford Forest Park

Not far from the village of Markethill is Gosford Forest Park. Rich in wild, rugged beauty and abundant in flora and fauna, it offers some of the best walks and hikes in Co Armagh.

With multiple forest trails from which to choose, visitors will be spoiled for choice and enamoured by this park’s beauty.

Gosford’s circular walk takes visitors on a marvellous forest trail through the grounds of a former country house and past ponds and pretty gardens en route to views of the 19th century Gosford Castle.

The park also offers a number of top facilities which include play parks, family mountain biking and horse and walking trails.

For a more active family day out, explore the 590 acres of woodland, grassland, streams and forest trails by mountain bike - or saddle up for a spectacular horse-riding trek.

Make a Pilgrim’s Journey

For serious walkers or St Patrick enthusiasts, the Pilgrim’s Pursuit is one of the best walks in the island of Ireland.

Starting in Armagh and ending in Downpatrick, this trek is 82 miles (131 kilometres) in length. The route begins at the Navan Centre and travels through key sites associated with Ireland’s Christian heritage and Patrick. Its patron saint.

Not surprisingly, the lengthy trek finishes up at the resting place of the man himself.

While it’s obviously not for the faint-hearted, the route is popular with groups and pilgrims alike, not least because it offers some of the best scenery in Ireland.

Every pilgrim walk is rewarded, with a pilgrim’s passport system in place to give an added dimension to your experience. Stamp your “passport” along the route and walk away with a souvenir that confirms your journey as well as documenting it.

Soak Up the City with an Official Guided Walking Tour

Unravel the mysteries of the ancient city soaked in myths, legends, history and heritage and discover the story of the city and its citizens from the pre-Christian era right up to modern times with a guided walking tour.

A leisurely walk will take you through the city centre’s main attractions, spanning a 1km route. This 90-minute tour starts at Armagh County Museum and, along the way, your guide will entertain you with facts and anecdotes as they escort you towards the Hill of Armagh, where you will be treated to a feast for the eyes with the panoramic vistas from Ard Mhacha, height of Macha.

Bask in summer splendour at The Argory

Built in the 1820s, The Argory is now a National Trust property and visitors from across the island of Ireland flock to see its beautiful gardens and 320-acre wooded estate bordering the

River Blackwater.

A range of walks will suit the walking ability of all visitors, whether via a casual dander round the gardens or exploration of the woodland and riverside trails.

Dogs – on leads - are welcome in the grounds and gardens. For more outdoors fun, The Argory is also home to an adventure playground and environmental sculpture train.

Loughgall Country Park

Set on 188 hectares of open farmland, orchard and ‘lough’, visitors will feel they have truly escaped it all with a trip to Loughgall Country Park.

The Orchard Walk covers 2 miles across paths within the spectacular natural surroundings of the park, and form part of the Highway to Health walking routes, a series of waymarked walks throughout Northern Ireland.

A rural haven, Loughgall Country Park also has a range of activities - golf and fishing, adventure and cycling trails, an outdoor gym, football and tennis.

For more information or walking trail inspiration, visit www.visitarmagh.com

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on Alpha Newspaper Group

Characters left: 1500

BREAKING