In the autumnal months, Northern Ireland’s landscape is not only a delight to look at but is bursting with fresh ingredients – if you know where to look! To celebrate Harvest Month this Year of Food and Drink we’ve put together a list of walks where you can stock up on the fruits of the land to make delicious jellies, wines and jams. Take a look at what natures store cupboard has to offer…
Lagan Towpath, Co. Antrim
A 3.5 mile walk within the Lagan Valley Regional Park on the outskirts of Belfast you will feel like you are anything but close to the city on this tranquil circular towpath walk. A magnet for wildlife and nature the hedgerows are abundant with Blackberries in the Autumn.
Perfectly ripe in October, red coloured Rosehips can also be found, great for making herbal teas, jams, jellies and wine.
Top Tip: Grab a bite to eat at the Lock Keepers Inn situated en route or extend your stroll with a visit to Minnowburn and the Giant’s Ring.
Castle Archdale Country Park, Co. Fermanagh
Choose from a variety of routes within the 520 hectare forest located on the shores of Lower Lough Erne. Featuring a red deer enclosure, wildfowl ponds, butterfly garden and wildflower meadow, the walks at Castle Archdale Country Park combine natural beauty with evidence of the country parks role as a vital flying-boat station in the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II.
For those who know what they’re looking for the forest is a great place to find fungi. Never eat any wild food without multiple sources of positive identification as some wild mushrooms can be poisonous!
Top Tip: Keep an eye out for guided mushroom identification walks often held throughout in the autumn months.
Dundrum Coastal Path, Co. Down
A 3 mile walk there and back, go foraging for the shoreline’s wildlife with edible finds including a variety of seaweed and fresh mussels. The Dundrum Coastal Path, part of the Lecale Way, runs along a stretch of disused railway line on the western shore of Dundrum Inner Bay offering vistas of exceptional beauty.
Across the bay lie the fertile plains of Lecale, while behind the village on the summit of a rocky hill, stands one of Northern Ireland’s most evocative medieval ruins; Dundrum Castle.
Top Tip: Taste local, freshly caught mussels the way they ought to be cooked at the award winning Mourne Seafood Bar in Dundrum.
Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Co. Armagh
For those looking for a good stretch of the legs the 9.5 mile walk within the forest park requires sturdy footwear and delivers stunning views. Starting with an uphill walk through deciduous woodland be prepared to welcome magnificent views of the Ring of Gullion peaks; Croslieve, Slievebrack and Mullaghbane Mountain.
Reaching the summit by a steep path explore a Neolithic tomb and soak up panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains, Carlingford Lough and The Cooley Peninsula. Along the way keep an eye out for blackberries in the bushes and Bilberries on the heath.
Top Tip: Slieve Gullion Forest Park also offers a scenic drive, Adventure Playpark, Giant’s Lair children’s story trail and courtyard coffee shop.
Roe Valley Country Park, Co. Derry – Londonderry
This scenic and tranquil park on the outskirts of Limavady offers spectacular riverside views and woodland walks with delicious wild nuts and berries to be found. Choose from a variety of paths between 2-7 miles for your forage alongside the River Roe whose plunging waters create spectacular gorges covered in mature woodland.
The perfect hedgerow foraging site, keep an eye out for hazelnuts in the hedges and wood – the perfect accompaniment to chocolate cake!
Top Tip: The 4 star Roepark Resort is only 2.5 miles away. Overlooking a stunning 18 hole golf course the country house estate also features a spa and two restaurants serving fresh local cuisine making it an ideal place for a break away.
Plan Your Next Autumnal Getaway
With so many wonderful woodlands and forest parks to explore, why not make a break of it and book a short break to Northern Ireland this autumn? Visit discovernorthernireland.com to explore more.