With the increase of screen time, plastic toys and the need to constantly entertain our children in the 21st century, we are scaling back and looking at ways we can increase our time in nature and have more outdoor adventures.
It’s always tricky in Northern Ireland with our changeable weather but as my granny used to say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. I love forest parks on particularly wet days as the tree cover provides some shelter and the smell the plants give off in the rain is glorious.
So in the spirit of having more outdoor adventures with our little ones, here’s our bucket list for the summer.
Tollymore Forest Park
One of my favourite parks in Northern Ireland, Tollymore is full of ancient trees, wildlife, and stunning scenery. There is also a park for little ones and is great for a picnic.
White Park Bay
Not only is White Park Bay a beautiful beach that is home to several cows, it also boasts ranger walks for children and is a National Trust site with lots of activities for the whole family. To be honest, I’d probably just lay on the beach and relax!
A short ferry ride from Ballycastle takes you to the little island of Rathlin which is home to a prolific seabird colony. You can go puffin spotting, take a walk around the island and stop for lunch in its lovely little pub. Best to go when the water is settled as the ferry can get a bit rocky.
Roe Valley Country Park
This scenic and tranquil park is located on the outskirts of Limavady and offers spectacular riverside views and woodland walks along with opportunities for salmon and trout fishing, canoeing, rock climbing, and orienteering.
Belfast Castle / Cave Hill Country Park
Belfast Castle itself sits overlooking the whole city of Belfast. Its gardens are beautiful and have a Cat hunt for children. You can take the Estate trail up through Cave Hill Country park (about 40 min hike, not easily accessible for prams) and you can reach the summit for glorious views. Best to go when the weather is good.
Cave Hill Adventurous Playground
Recently made free of charge, Cave Hill Adventurous Playground is a great way to get the kids active. Set in the beautiful surrounding of Belfast Castle, it’s a nice little spot away from city life where the kids can play and parents can relax and enjoy the nature sounds.
Slieve Gullion Forest Park
Besides being a beautiful forest park, Slieve Gullion has a Giant’s Lair, Story Trail and adventure playground. Perfect for tiring out little people whilst immersing them in a bit of magic.
Murlough National Nature Reserve
Murlough Nature Reserve sits nestled under the Mourne Mountains in Newcastle, Co. Down. It has a 2.5 mile nature trail with stunning scenery and hosts activities for little ones throughout the year like bug hunts.
Pickie Fun Park
Pickie Fun Park is situated in Bangor, Co. Down and boasts a range of activities such as paddle boats, water walking, a miniature train. Entrance to the park is free but you do have to pay for the attractions.
Outdoor NI provide experience days across Northern Ireland from canoeing and surfing to sea safaris, paintball and off-road driving.