Follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick on a pilgrimage walking trail offering some of the best walking in Northern Ireland.
Saint Patrick, Ireland’s most beloved saint, was the missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland’s island. This pilgrim’s adventure follows a 132km trail connecting Armagh and Downpatrick – the two locations most closely related to Saint Patrick. Starting from the spiritual centre of Armagh, the tour takes the scenic route through the stunning Mourne Mountains, through beautiful forest to the seaside town of Newcastle, winding its way through the untamed landscape of Murlough Bay Nature Reserve, by Dundrum Castle, Tyrella Beach and finally to Downpatrick.
Along the way, taste some freshly caught juicy langoustines, turbot and shellfish. Have a delicious traditional apple tart or a glass of cooled cider from fruit, grown on local farms where orchards have been nurtured for over 100 years.
Don’t forget to stamp your Pilgrim Passport at the ten specified locations along the route and present your completed stamped Passport at The Saint Patrick Centre to receive your Certificate of Achievement.
- Downpatrick, Saint Patrick’s final resting place
- St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh
- Navan Centre & Fort
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival Armagh
Welcome to Armagh. The spiritual centre of the island of Ireland and its oldest city is the starting point for exploring Saint Patrick’s life and legacy. Often called the ‘Orchard County’, Armagh has 4,000 acres of apple orchards. Beautiful pink blossom adorns the trees in May at the start of apple season. Visit The Navan Centre on the outskirts of Armagh, or relax and take in the vast history and beauty of the Cathedral City.
- Accommodation: Fairylands Country House or similar
Day 2: Armagh to Scarva | 25km
After hearty breakfast start walking from Armagh, passing Lowry Lakes then Gosford Forest, then on towards Tandragee. The destination for this section is Scarva, with its award-winning floral displays and canal paths, close to the town of Banbridge.
- Walking for the day: 25km
- Accommodation: Druminargle House or similar
Day 3: Scarva to Newry | 20km
Today’s journey is via Newry Canal towpath, on mainly flat waterside paths. Newry Canal is the oldest summit-level canal in Britain and Ireland and opened in 1742, connecting Portadown and historic city of Newry. The city itself is vibrant, with bars,
restaurants, as well as an interesting heritage trail and flourishing arts scene.
- Walking for the day: 20km
- Accommodation: The Mourne Country Hotel or similar
Day 4: Newry to Rostrevor | 15km
Starting from Newry soon you will be rewarded with wonderful views of Carlingford Lough and the Cooley & Mourne Mountains on either side. This area on the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland borderlands is steeped in folklore which is told in Rostrevor in both Words & Music. The charming village of Rostrevor on the shores of Carlingford Lough is said to have inspired C.S. Lewis in his writings of the tails of Narnia. St. Bronagh’s a disciple of St. Patrick set up a monastery in the area which ruins can be seen today and date back to the 6th centenary.
- Walking for the day: 15km
- Accommodation: The Sands B&B or similar
Day 5: Rostrevor to Hilltown | 12km
Today your walk will take you into the Mourne Mountains, firstly through Kilbroney Forest then onto open hillside trails to the village of Hilltown. Your overnight accommodation is located in a charming little farming village. With fewer than 1000 people, Hilltown has the impressive eight pubs in the high street, a legacy from 18th-century smugglers who shared out their contraband here.
- Walking for the day: 12km
- Accommodation: Clonmurr B&B or similar
Day 6: Hilltown to Newcastle | 20km
After breakfast you will continue on the trail through the Mourne Mountains, today’s trail is mostly on a mixture of open hillside and forest tracks along a very picturesque walk in the lower mountains. Your second half of the day will take you through Tollymore Forest Park and into the seaside town of Newcastle where you can relax and unwind along the towns beautiful promenade surrounded but Slieve Donard in the background and Dundrum Bay in the foreground.
- Walking for the day: 20km
- Accommodation: Conlyn House B&B or similar
Day 7: Newcastle to Dundrum | 8km
Today is a very easy day, walking along the beach from Newcastle to Dunrum. Leaving Newcastle, you pass the world-famous Royal County Down Golf Club that hosted the Irish Open 2015. The path then leads you to the ancient dune ecosystem of Murlough National Nature Reserve, before following the inner bay to the village of Dundrum. Make sure to explore the ruins of the village’s 12th Century Norman Castle, and enjoy the village’s famous seafood cuisine.
- Walking for the day: 8km
- Accommodation: Arley House B&B or similar
Day 8: Dundrum to Downpatrick | 22km
From Dundrum, the coastal path runs along a disused railway line that connected Belfast and Newcastle. Take in the coastline, woodlands and mudflats of Dundrum Bay, which provide an important habitat for wading birds. From here, you will walk through what is known locally as St. Patrick’s Country. In Ireland, Christianity began here, where Saint Patrick brought his boat ashore on Strangford Lough. Walk Saint Patrick’s footsteps, from the site where he established his first church to his final resting place.
- Walking for the day: 22km
- Accommodation: Denvir’s Coaching Inn or similar
Day 9: Departure
Your tour ends after a hearty breakfast, and you begin your onward journey.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of small, locally-owned hotels, B&Bs and traditional guesthouses. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
Click to view default hotels
- Fairylands Country House
- Druminargle House
- The Mourne Country Hotel
- The Sands B&B
- Clonmurr B&B
- Conlyn House B&B
- Bright House B&B
- Denvir’s Coaching Inn
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village inns and restaurants.
Difficulty and terrain
This itinerary is suitable for leisure walking and pilgrimages (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are sign marked, and the itinerary is easy to follow. The route covers varied topography, from rolling hills to canal towpaths. Every day offers different views and terrain, with a combination of off- and on-road trails. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from early April till the end of October. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. Northern Ireland’s climate is oceanic, with cold, rainy winters and mild summers. Atlantic weather fronts move relentlessly one after another over the country, resulting in a rapid succession of cloudiness and sunshine, rain showers and subsequent improvements. The least rainy city is Armagh, in the southern inland areas, with 810mm. The temperature usually becomes relatively mild by the second half of May, when, however, nights can still be quite cold. In return, spring is the least rainy season and the sunniest of the year. From June to August, temperatures are enjoyable for walking: average highs are around 18/19C.
Click to view travel options
- From Dublin airport, T1 Zone 14, take the direct bus Bus X4 towards Armagh (1h 25mins).
- From Belfast airport take bus 600 for a 15mins journey to the bus station. Hop on one of the many buses to Armagh (approx. 1h).
- Ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast: Sail between Scotland and Northern Ireland six times daily in a crossing time from only 2h 15mins so you can travel when it suits you.
- Ferry from Liverpool to Belfast: Twice daily direct link from the heart of England to Northern Ireland with crossing time approximately eight hours with a choice of both day and night sailings.
- For more information, please visit StenaLine and use the Omio planner above.
- 8 nights in private en-suite rooms (B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 8 breakfasts
- Detailed journey documentation and practical information (maps and waterproof route notes, details of restaurants and places of interest along the way)
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 20kg per person)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request