From the rocky coasts to the gentle valleys, Irish roads can be stunning. But they’re also dangerous. Here are the most dangerous roads to be found in Northern Ireland.
For a small area, Northern Ireland boasts some of the most scenic roads in the world. While maybe lacking the size of other countries, we certainly make up for that with the diversity and quality of our landscapes.
First-time visitors are often surprised at the variety of our scenery and the fact that you can cover so much in only a few hours. In fact, you can easily drive coast-to-coast in less than a day (if you’ve stocked up on caffeine that is).
With an abundance of wild countryside and often empty roads, Northern Ireland is a sanctuary for exploration. If you’re after road-trip motivation, check out five of the most scenic, but slightly dangerous, routes in the country. Stay off your phone and concentrate on the incredible scenery along these fantastic roads.
5. Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route – no actual giants, unfortunately
The Causeway Coastal Route is a specified tourist drive around the coast of Northern Ireland between Belfast and Derry. Following the coast, you’ll pass many key tourist attractions including, The Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, The Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery (after your drive of course), and the Glens of Antrim.
Magnificent breathtaking scenery through rolling coastal countryside means the road can be narrow and twisty, complete with dramatic cliffs and spectacular landscape. You’ll be glad if the roads are clear, but if not you’re best to concentrate and keep focused on that drink in the Bushmills Distillery later.
Driving around Ireland is not for the faint of heart. This route is no exception. If you have the nerve, there are some unforgettable views on this road that will last a lifetime.
4. Sperrin Mountains (Tyrone) – Northern Ireland’s biggest mountain range
The Sperrin’s region is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, located in the western part of Northern Ireland. The Sperrin’s area stretches from the Atlantic shores in the north to Lough Neagh in the east, and all the way to the Donegal border in the west. This is quite a drive so have your camera charged as you don’t want to miss the many great photo opportunities.
Four scenic routes have been established in the Sperrin’s area; North, South, East, and Central. If you’re on the fence about this route, knowing that it was included in National Geographic’s esteemed list of ‘The World’s Most Scenic Drives 101’ in 2012 should help you make your decision.
These roads are not the best and can become quite tricky if you get distracted by the seemingly never-ending spectacular views while driving. So, stop and take a break while putting your memories on film.
3. Lough Navar Forest (Fermanagh) – you might see a waterfall!
The forest boasts a network of walking trails of varying length and a ten-kilometre scenic drive leading to Lough Erne (one of the best views in Ireland). The views are that great that it’s the equivalent to looking out of a small plane or helicopter.
Many facilities have been provided to make the route even more fascinating (if that’s even possible), including viewpoints, picnic areas, and short walks to an abundance of interesting features. It is hardly surprising that this forest is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.
The driveway up to the lookout is a loop that is quite narrow. Therefore, the looped drive is just possible in one direction.
There are some passing places but be careful as with dense mist this can be dangerous. While it’s not the highest on our list of the top five most dangerous roads in Northern Ireland, we advise packing some snacks and taking your time!
2. The Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion – home to the highest mountain peak in Northern Ireland (Slieve Donard)
The remarkable Mournes panorama was the inspiration for the stunning Narnia books. It, and the Ring of Gullion in the neighbouring County Armagh, provide some of Northern Ireland’s best landscapes.
Enjoy an eight-mile scenic drive through Slieve Gullion Forest Park which offers the chance to explore nature with public facilities close at hand.
Take the scenic drive to the southern summit of Slieve Gullion, passing Cailleach Beara’s Lough, and right down the northern side of the mountain. Throughout your trip, you will see endless spectacular views, especially from the top of the mountain across the Cooley Peninsula and Armagh Drumlins.
Although not very dangerous, the road is very narrow without any passing, so it’s advisable to keep focused until you’ve stopped at one of the many picnic areas.
1. The Falls and Shankill Road (Belfast) – a black taxi tour is advisable!
Slightly unusual, and possibly not scenic in the traditional sense, this 2-hour trip around the capital of Northern Ireland will take you through some of the most dangerous roads (for different reasons) in our country’s history.
Travelling in a classic black taxi, hear first-hand accounts of ‘The Troubles’ from taxi drivers who lived and worked in the city at the time.
Taking in the famous Falls Road and Shankill Road, the danger speaks for itself, but you will visit some of the most memorable murals and learn about the long and often-violent conflicts between Republicans and Loyalists.
Perhaps a strange entry to our top 5 most dangerous roads in Northern Ireland, but interesting in a different sense.