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Co Derry: one walk, one run, one hike, one swim, one cycle, one park and one outdoor gym

Your essential, outdoor, family-friendly guide to Co Derry

When the weather is good, there is so much to do outdoors in Ireland – solo, or with family or friends. Here are seven activities - with locations, descriptions, tips and some maps for a general guide.

Below you can read John O'Dwyer's pick for a great walking path, Conor O'Keeffe on a running route, Rozanna Purcell recommends a hiking trail, Mary McCarthy on an outdoor swimming location, Ian O'Riordan picks a cycle trip, Sylvia Thompson on a family-friendly park and Fiona Alston selects a popular outdoor gym.

And remember, whatever you do and wherever you go, please be safe. And enjoy.

Name Downhill Demesne
Distance 4km
Approximate duration 1.5 hours
Difficulty Easy
Starting point Google Maps Downhill Demesne entrance (grid reference C 756 356); you can follow this Walk NI guide
Amenities Paid parking
Follow signs for the iconic Mussenden Temple, perched on a cliff edge, to enjoy a breathtaking expanse along Ireland's north coast to the Western Isles of Scotland. Continue along the clifftop until a stile on the left leads you downhill back to your starting point.


Name: Ballycarton Wood/Binevenagh trail
Length: 5km (10km out and back)
Terrain: Forest track
Route type: Linear (Out and Back)
Footwear: Road or Trail Runners
Getting to the start: By car is the easiest way to access the site. Follow the Causeway Coastal Route along Seacoast Road (B69) or the A2 from Limavady.
Traffic: May encounter Forest Service vehicles on route. Popular with walkers, other runners and orienteers/adventure racers.
Facilities: Nearest facilities for refreshments and toilets at Limavady town (8km).
Information for people with a disability: This route does not have accessible toilet facilities. Dusted forest track with steep gradients in places.
Background: A short linear route from Ballycarton Wood, along the forest track through Binevenagh Forest. Undulating track offers great views of the cliffs and glimpses of Lough Foyle, Magilligan and Benone Strand.

Route Information: Start from the car park at Ballycarton Wood off the A2 Aghanloo Road. Alternative start point at Swann's Bridge picnic site just off the Causeway Coastal Route. From Ballycarton Wood follow the path running adjacent to the A2 for a short distance before the trail starts to climb through the forest. The trail meanders as you travel north gaining height before it undulates along the foot of the mountain. The route is waymarked throughout the forest. After 2 miles (3.2km) the forest opens to your right revealing the cliff face of Binevenagh where you may see ravens, peregrines, buzzards or even gliders soaring above you. The entrance to the Nature Reserve is on your right (no cycling in the reserve, please!) The trail turns left at a right angle with a descent before swinging round and climbing eastwards as the the view opens up towards the North Coast. The trail finishes at the forest gate a short distance away where you can leave a car to return to the start or simply retrace your route back to Ballycarton. (Aided by: Trek NI)

Hike name Binevenagh Forest Circular Walk
Distance 15km
Elevation gain 570m
Approximate duration 3.5-4 hours
Difficulty Intermediate
Route type Loop and out and back
Starting point See AllTrails Binevenagh Forest Circular Walk
Amenities Parking
Dog-friendly? Yes
Tips Don't forget extra socks and shoes for the journey home, as the forest path can get very muddy.

Name: Benone Beach
Location: Google Map: Benone Avenue, Limavady
Brief Description:
Long sandy beach, Atlantic water cold all year
Amenities: Disabled toilets, parking, showers behind the sea shed coffee dock
Lifeguard: Seasonal RNLI Beach Lifeguards Service
Water quality: Excellent. Blue flag beach for 30 years
Tips: Zoned swimming area. No rocks, shingle or seaweed makes it easy on the feet. Sea shed serves great coffee all year and rents wetsuits.

Name: Slieve Gallion Cycle Route
Start location: Moneymore
Route: A challenging and suitably scenic route circumnavigating Slieve Gallion with spectacular views and taking in Springhill House and the plantation towns of Moneymore and Draperstown and the easternmost of the Sperrin Mountains.
Distance: 50km
Time: 3-3.5 hours
Highlights: Part of my first cycle experience in the Sperrin Mountains, and for large parts could have sworn it was Wicklow.
Look out for: The steep climbs in parts!
Tips: For more information on all Northern Ireland cycling routes see

Park name: Downhill Demesne, Sea Road, Castlerock
Amenities: This National Trust property is set in a stunning landscape which offers magnificent clifftop walks along the North Coast of Ireland.
Special features: The spectacular location of and views from the Mussenden Temple folly is a must see.
Access: Parking is advanced booking via National Trust members park for free. The Ulsterbus 134 from Coleraine to Limavady stops very close by. Google Map "Downhill Demesne".
Dogs: Dogs on leads.
Tip: Bring snacks and drinks and be prepared for energetic walks.

Name: Leafair Park Outdoor Gym, Derry.
Equipment: Cross trainer, fitness rider, treadmill, chest press, shoulder press, leg press and waist extension.
Location: Google Maps
Information: Playpark and wellbeing centre nearby.

Get Active Series
- 32 great walking routes in Ireland - one in each county
- 32 great hikes in Ireland
- 32 great running routes
- 32 great outdoor swim locations
- 32 great cycling routes
- 32 great parks
- 32 great outdoor gyms