Wander-ful walks whatever the weather!

LET'S GO WALKING...Rachel Bain and Mark Strong, promoting the forthcoming Guided Walks Programme for 2011 at Castlerock. CR22 180MJ
LET'S GO WALKING...Rachel Bain and Mark Strong, promoting the forthcoming Guided Walks Programme for 2011 at Castlerock. CR22 180MJ

WITH the long summer evenings finally here, Coleraine Borough Council is encouraging residents to dust off their walking boots and explore their local area through the annual guided walks programme.

The programme, co-ordinated by Council’s Countryside Development Officer, offers eight expertly guided walks in stunning locations throughout the Borough and an additional guided bus tour. The guided walks provide an ideal opportunity to get active and keep fit this summer whilst enjoying the scenery and learning about the heritage and biodiversity of the local area.

Ranging from an easy two mile walk along mostly flat terrain to a more demanding walk on undulating landscape, the programme will kick off at East Strand, Portrush on Tuesday 7th June at 6:45pm.

In the first summer walk, and on the eve of World Oceans Day, walkers have the opportunity to accompany local guide Jim Allen whilst learning about the natural and maritime history associated with this spectacular section of the north Antrim coastline, including the influence of the sea on the historical development of the seaside town of Portrush.

Walkers can enjoy the beautiful golden sands of East Strand and Whiterocks beaches, before following the dramatic roadside footpath hugging the cliffs towards Dunluce, offering uninterrupted panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean. The evening will finish off in the shadows of the iconic Dunluce Castle where walkers can enjoy light refreshments in the neighbouring ‘Wee Cottage’ Tea Room.

The next walk in the series will take place on Wednesday 15th June, at Kilrea Town Hall. Participants can join local Blue Badge Guide, Tommy Collins on a gentle stroll from the Diamond area to the canal and lock gates at Portna and along the secluded riverside path towards Hutchinson’s Quay.

And, for those who prefer to enjoy life at a slower pace, local guide Wilbert Patterson will host a guided bus tour of Aghadowey and Garvagh District on Wednesday 29th June. With no walking required, participants can simply enjoy a tour featuring houses and monuments of historical interest in the district, finishing off the evening with light refreshments in Garvagh’s Community Building.

The Castlerock Walkfest, organised by a committee of enthusiastic local walkers, will bring the summer to a close on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th September. Centred in the beautiful coastal village of Castlerock, walks will have the opportunity to participate in a series of guided walks over two days, set against the spectacular backdrop and natural landscape of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Mark Strong, Countryside Development Officer for Coleraine Borough Council is eagerly awaiting the start of this year’s walks. He said, “Residents of the Coleraine Borough are exceptionally blessed to live in an area steeped in natural beauty and heritage which provides the perfect surroundings for the Summer Walks Programme. “Many people are simply unaware of the wealth of interest and good walking routes available in their local area and this programme provides the ideal opportunity to discover more. It is a chance for both walking enthusiasts and those who rarely walk to experience something different, meet new people and enjoy learning about their local area.

“I am delighted we are able to offer this wide range of walks this year and invite both residents and visitors to get out and get involved this summer.”

Dates for your Diary:

Tuesday 7th June, 6:45pm East Strand Portrush to Whiterocks to Dunluce Castle. Wednesday 15th June, 6:45pm Portna/Hutchinson’s Quay, Kilrea. Saturday 18th June, Glenullin Hillwalking Festival. Tuesday 21st June, 6:45pm Giants Sconce/ Formoyle Forest. Wednesday 29th June, 6:45pm, Guided Bus Tour, Aghadowey and Garvagh District. Wednesday 6th July, 6:45pm The Moor and beachfront, Castlerock. Wednesday 27th July, 6:45pm Bushfoot/Runkerry, Portballintrae. Wednesday 10th August, 6:45pm Inchaleen, Garvagh. Wednesday 17th August, 6:45pm Downhill Forest. Saturday 17th and Sunday 198h September, Castlerock Walkfest.

For further information please contact Coleraine’s Tourist Information Centre. Telephone: 028 7034 4723 or Countryside Development Officer Tel: 028 7034 7234.