A new walking trail, set high above the City of Belfast in Northern Ireland, has just opened. The 4.2 mile circular Divis Ridge trail is located in the Belfast Hills and offers spectacular skyline views over Belfast. Other views from the viewpoint include the Mourne Mountains, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Divis at an elevation of 478m (1,568ft.) is the highest point in the Belfast Hills which tower over the north west of the city. Although situated high in the Belfast Hills many local people and tourists will be able to enjoy walking the 4.2 mile circular Ridge Trail due to its relatively flat paths on tarmac, boardwalk and stone pitched gravel. More serious walkers can walk a loop walk which combines the Ridge Trail and Summit Trail (8.1km) which includes the summit of Divis and affords views to The Sperrins and North West Ireland.
The land which was once the site of an army barracks was left untouched leading to the landscape which can be seen today. The expansive 2,000 acre mosaic of upland heath and blanket bog is home to a wealth of archaeological remains and wildlife.
“The highlight of the walk, for me, is the fact that you are walking in the open countryside and, as you crown Black Mountain, only then can you see Belfast as it opens up below you.” Dermot McCann, National Trust Warden, reflecting on the Ridge Trail.
At the launch of the trails Dawson Stelfox MBE, first Irishman to summit Everest, Chairman of Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland and previously the President of Mountaineering Ireland commented, “Outdoor Recreation NI has developed sustainable quality trails on Divis and the Black Mountain. The Ridge Trail is one of four new trails to be developed by Outdoor Recreation NI on the mountain each offering unparallel views across the country. This is part of Outdoor Recreation NI’s continued commitment to opening up Northern Ireland for walkers.”
Joining Dawson Stelfox at the launch was Heather Thompson, National Trust’s Director for Northern Ireland, who commented, “Since the National Trust started looking after Divis and the Black Mountain in 2005, it has been our objective to regenerate this once inaccessible landscape into a destination for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. The development of the Ridge Trail is an important milestone in meeting this objective and represents a significant investment in this part of Belfast. This is a very special place and we hope to welcome many visitors to take in these spectacular views of Northern Ireland and beyond.”
The Ridge Trail is one of four trails on Divis and the Black Mountain. The Summit Trail is a specifically designed loop walk on Divis Mountain with spectacular views over Belfast and every county in Ulster as well as parts of Scotland and England. With stone pitching as its main feature, the Divis summit trail is designed to maintain the condition of the mountain slope while providing public access. The Heath Trail is a 4 mile route that traverses blanket bog, taking in the northern end of Divis and the Black Mountain site. Those with young children or limited mobility can explore the 0.9 mile Lough Trail which starts close to the new Ridge Trail and is an all-ability trail with paths suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
Details of the Ridge Trail along with the Belfast Online Guide to Walking can be found on WalkNI.com