Saturday, September 22, 2018

hiking around Belfast - cavehill

a few weekends ago, we decided to make the best use of what's left of summer and hike to cavehill, which we had heard is a good hike, and also had happened to pass by sometime in august - it looked great from the highway that ran past it.

and so, some notes after getting back, for anyone who might want to attempt it:

overall verdict: great place for hiking - not difficult at all, superb views on the way up as well as at the top, but might get lost if there aren't people around, as we encountered a lot of unmarked paths that seemed to branch off. there's a cellular network tower on one of the adjacent hills, so you aren't offline at any point.

there are 4 main routes that we saw:

  1. via Belfast zoo (pretty narrow and quite overgrown) - we ascended via this one. there were signs saying some paths are closed due to landslides, and we had to hop over a fallen tree trunk on the way as well.
  2. via Belfast castle - this is the widest path, with gravel all the way. seems like the easiest and most popular route - we descended part way down this path.
  3. via old cavehill road - this one joins the Belfast castle route about halfway (a small gate marks the point where it joins the castle route) has a spar supermarket near the start, which is good if you need to stock up on snacks/water. stone steps and well packed dirt (until it joins the gravel path of the castle route) - we descended by this path once it branched off the castle route.
  4. we saw a path that seems to ascend directly to the fort at the top, but have no idea where it starts from. we did see people climbing it, but the final stretch by this path would have been much steeper than the rest.
route 1 seemed like very familiar experience, as the overgrown path and bushes, and minimal markings reminded us of hikes we did in konkan. also gives you a slight feeling of a challenge since it feels like you could get lost (while you actually can't - if you veer too far off the path, you will encounter barbed wire fencing!)

route 2 seems to be easy enough for little kids - you will even be able to even push an off-road buggy up it!

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