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Black Mountain is such a fabulous place to walk in all seasons and for all ages.
I actually (shamefully) had never been up Black mountain, Divis or Cave Hill until about 12 months ago! It was thanks to one of my best friends that I discovered the beauty and fabulous walks to be found here. The one thing I like about Black Mountain in Belfast is that no matter the weather it is easily accessible and close to the city meaning I can fit in a quick walk before the school run mid week on my day off!
The beauty of the walks at Black Mountain is the diversity and choice of how quick or short, easy or more strenuous you want it to be. My go-to walk when I have more time to spare consists of both the summit trail and then loop round to the ridge walk in a circular route and back to the carpark.
Your starting point for this walk is to park in the free car park on the Divis Road, Hannahstown, near Belfast, County Antrim, BT17 0NG. This brings you straight opposite the main gate into the National Trust Black Mountain and Divis walk. Cross the road and once through the gate you will see a flat tarmac path. Start following this path to begin your walk.
The flat path is great for walkers of all ages. My four-year-old loves to dander up here especially when there are cattle or horses ( be careful as at times the animals do roam free – just make sure not to disturb them).
Keep an eye out for the trail signs on your left. Take the sign for the summit trail and follow the path straight ahead, As the road forks take the marked turn right heading for the summit. Keep following it till you reach the viewpoint. Take time to admire the views from the viewing point and the highlighted places of interest in the distance towards the town of Antrim. You can see Slemish from here on a clear day. It’s also a fabulous spot to watch the sunset as the sun reflects off the lough in the distance.
From here follow the rocky path leading to the summit. This part of the trail is lined with boulders to assist with water displacement and prevents the trail from being washed downhill. Continue until you reach the trigonometry pillar that marks the summit of Divis Mountain at 475m/1562ft.
The decent is via the tarmac roadway to the left of the mast downwards, taking in the view over Belfast Lough from Whitehead on the left through to Holywood on the righthand side. The Titanic Quarter and the yellow Samson and Goliath cranes of the shipyard are also visible as well as the football stadium all down below.
At the bottom of the hill you can either follow the marked route and turn right back towards the barn, following the tarmac path back to the main gate and carpark or, if like me you want a longer walk, then head straight ahead onto the wooden boardwalk past the transmitter and building. Follow this path until you reach the cairn and viewpoint – the summit is marked by a trigonometry point. This pillar marks the summit of Black Mountain at a height of 389m. From here you can experience exhilarating views across the city.
Continue to follow the gravel path as it winds its way along the ridge towards Black Hill, crossing the first stile. Keep following the path until it leads you back to the main tarmac road. Follow the main path /road back past the barn and down to the main gate and you’ll be back to the carpark.
I love this Trek as it’s easily accessible. It’s right above the heart of the city and it’s lovely to look down from such a peaceful spot and absorb the beauty of nature. The Belfast hills have so much to offer for anyone who loves the outdoors!
My favourite time for this walk is sunset. It’s lovely and peaceful and away from the crowds and hustle and bustle. A nice way to unwind after a busy day or week! I would recommend this walk for anyone who is fit and capable of a longer walk especially if combining the the Black Mountain and Divis walk all in one go. I think time wise it depends on your fitness and pace, but I can complete both walks together in under 90 minutes at a steady pace with a few stops to take photos.
My final golden nugget of advice would be… don’t rule out a walk in winter here. One of my favourite adventures was a walk up to the summit trail in the snow! As long as you’re well wrapped up, equipped and have some crampons on your boots, you’ll be ok. The views in the snow were ‘other worldly.’
So get outdoors and enjoy those views!