Awesome Autumn for the dog owner…

Awesome Autumn for the dog owner…

October 27, 2019 Off By Barking Mad

Hasn’t the sunny Autumn weather just been fantastic!  Just the other day, while walking in Wallace Park Lisburn, the sun was splitting the skies, and the ground was covered in gorgeous rusty colours.  The tractor was blowing the leaves into a pile, while the water canons watered the lawns.  The park was packed…filled with dog walkers, kids in the playground and mum’s pushing prams, it was brilliant – a busy park in late October.  I guess we have the mentality of ‘making hay while the sun shines’, as the rain could well come back again any day.

Personally, an autumn walk in the fresh air is good for the soul, and with shorter days upon us, it’s important to maintain a good physical and mental wellbeing during the Autumn and Winter months, so I’ve put together some walking and food suggestions (always food!!)

I’m focusing on County Down for this blog post:-

If you haven’t heard about Game of Thrones, then you must have been asleep for the past 10 years!  The National Trust Castle Ward location is home to ‘Winterfell’ in the HBO series.  They have recently made their Trailhead cafe dog friendly inside (bottom car park), which means you can now enjoy walking the grounds, followed by a cup of coffee and a naughty treat!   If you fancy something more substantial you can head on out towards Downpatrick and pop into Fodder on the Killyleagh Road – the quirky fun, dog friendly tipi tent and farm shop.  They have a great food menu, which includes their home estate raised Dexter beef burgers (OMG!!), Dexter beef pies, thick wholesome soups, dexter beef sausage rolls, and sumptuous home made cakes!

Trailhead Cafe at Castle Ward

Staying in County Down, a crisp Autumn day in the Mourne Mountains can’t be beaten.  Cathy from Teaching Tails is a regular to the Mournes with her dog Chester, and you can follow her visits on Instagram.   Like many dog owners the Mournes offers a varied choice of walk and hike depending on your knowledge and capabilities.  Visit WalkNI who have a fantastic website of maps and routes all downloadable from the site, which are a great resource for route planning before you set of.  Naturally, ensure you have provisions for both you and your dog, as the weather is notorious for changing very quickly.  After a weather beaten trek, you will be glad of a few refreshments and a bite to eat in the dog friendly O’Hare’s in Newcastle Town.

Chester in the Mournes: photo credit@TeachingTails

For something less energetic, beautiful Hillsborough Forest Park provides an idyllic lakeside walk.   Lisburn City Council have been upgrading the outdoor space in recent months, adding to the car park spaces, and improving the trails.  Building work is ongoing with some areas cordoned off, but there are alternative routes around the Fort to access the forest trails. A trip to Hillsborough wouldn’t be complete without popping in to see Gerry in the Hillside.  Tasty local food served in this quirky irish pub which dates back to 1752!

The Hillside

The sound of the sea, and breathing in the salty sea air is good for our lungs, and Bangor offers both in abundance.  The fabulously dog friendly Salty Dog Hotel and Bistro has a designated dog friendly area which has been thoughtfully put together to cater for our canine companions.  Blankets, beds, water bowls and dog treats…your dog will be right at home!  If you’re going for a coastal walk along Seacliffe Road, don’t forget to check out the new dog park near the sailing club towards Ballyholme.  Staying in the area,  you can walk the Coastal path from Bangor around to Crawfordsburn Country Park (if you like a good walk!), and then pop into Loaf Pottery off Main Street in the village for a bite to eat.  They also do amazing woodfired pizza!

While the Comber Greenway is a great resource, weekends can be awash with cyclists making a dander challenging, but if you are out and about heading towards Comber then you can also pop in to North Down House for liquid refreshment before your return journey.

There is one more Dog Friendly NI venue on your way back to Belfast to check out –  Dundonald Old Mill just off the dual carriageway on the Old Belfast Road has allocated the downstairs area to our dogs!  With a range of homemade meals and treats available each day, you can also peruse the well stocked gift shop. 

If you aren’t following Dog Friendly NI over on Instagram,  then it’s time you were!  Instagram is a great platform for sharing pictures of our beloved dogs at the Dog Friendly NI venues.  If you are looking for inspiration for places to go and visit, then check it out and share your Autumn dog pics using the #DogFriendlyNI hashtag.