Part of Belfast's charming aesthetic is the surrounding hills which frame it. The most notable of which is Cave Hill, an interesting rock formation which can be seen across the city. Not only is this particular basaltic hill an iconic feature of the cityscape, it is home to a fantastic hiking trail and magnificent vantage points of the city and beyond. Despite living in Belfast for some time last year, I hadn't got round to doing this easily accessible climb, so made a point of doing it while in the city over Christmas - a great way to burn off a few festive calories.
Cave Hill is said to have inspired Jonathan's Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels', as Swift thought that the hill resembled a sleeping giant, safeguarding the city. You can almost see Jack Black's profile from certain angles..
The trail begins at Belfast Castle, which is a worthy point of interest in itself, complete with gardens, a cellar cafe, restaurant and free parking.
It was a crisp winters day when we did the hike, resulting in some spectacular views over the city - we could even see the silhouettes of the Isle of Man and Scotland.
Cave Hill is centrally located, in Newtownabbey on the Antrim Road. It takes approximately an hour and a half to go up and down. For the most part it is relatively easy, however there are a number of steep inclines which are very slippery when wet. The hike is quite doable without hiking gear, however a few extra layers and shoes with good grip are advisable!