New Ulster Way route officially launched
10 November 2009
The new revised Ulster Way route and accompanying website were officially launched in September at Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co.Down by Environment Minister Edwin Poots.
The new route provides a 625 mile (1000 kilometre) circular walking route around the best landscape and scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Poots said: “The Ulster Way provides access to the best of Northern Ireland – its landscapes, biodiversity, archaeology, and its people. Winding its way around our living and working countryside, you are never far from a section of the route. I hope that local people and tourists alike will be inspired to rediscover walking as a way to keep fit and enjoy our wonderful environment.”
Ulster Way website
The route has been created and will be maintained through a partnership between government, councils, landowners, walkers and non-government organisations, co-ordinated and funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and advised by the Ulster Way Advisory Committee.
Few other walking routes in the world incorporate such a vast array of woodland, mountains, coastline, moor land, built and natural heritage and biodiversity. The new route has been coordinated and funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) with input from the Ulster Way Advisory Committee and many others.
The route takes in well known places such as the Mourne Mountains, Giant’s Causeway, Fermanagh Lakelands and the Antrim Hills and Glens. But it will also allow walkers to uncover some other parts of Northern Ireland that they have never heard of, therefore providing a unique experience through the region’s hidden parts.
The route will continue to gradually change over time and it is planned that District Councils will work with other partners to increase the length of the route off-road.
Walkers will encounter myth and legend such as Chulainn, follow in the footsteps of Saints and Scholars such as Saint Patrick and of course be able to sample the legendary Northern Irish hospitality along the way.
With a new route comes a new concept for the various walking sections which are separated into Quality and Link Sections. The Quality Sections as the name suggest provide a truly quality walking experience. They are mainly on the already established Waymarked Ways which are predominantly off road, pass through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are waymarked throughout their length. The Link Sections are not waymarked and are mainly on public roads some of which can be very busy. Walkers are actively encouraged to make use of public transport along these sections so they can make best use of their time on the more attractive Quality Sections.
Many will be familiar with the green and yellow Ulster Way signs dotted throughout the Northern Irish countryside; however these are now being replaced with striking new blue and yellow signs indicating the Quality Sections of the new route. The old route is no longer, as it included a lot of road walking and some sections eventually began to suffer from increased traffic; there were also issues, in a few areas, about permission to cross private land.
Planning trips along the revised Ulster Way has been made easier with the creation of the new official website www.walkni.com/ulsterway.
The Minister added: “The excellent new Ulster Way website created by the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) creates a ‘one-stop shop’ for walkers including interactive and printable maps, route directions and links to accommodation and attractions.”
The Ulster Way project including the official website has been funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.