With lockdown leading to more and more of us appreciating our natural environment, watching the sunrise has become something of a must-do activity.
With that in mind, Belfast Live readers have been sharing what they think are the best ‘lesser-known’ spots to watch the sunrise across Northern Ireland.
It comes ahead of Darkness Into Light 2021 – One Sunrise Together, which will take place on Saturday, May 8.
This year organisers, Pieta, proudly supported by Electric Ireland, are asking people to sign up and mark the event with an activity of their choice – be that walking, running, hiking, biking or simply sharing their sunrise.
These activities, carried out within Covid guidelines, will help shine a light on suicide and self-harm while raising vital funds for the prevention and bereavement services provided by 17 partner charities in Northern Ireland as well as Pieta, the founding charity of DIL.
Speaking ahead of the event, Clare McAllister, Northern Ireland Residential Manager, said: “We are extremely grateful to those who have already signed up to support this year’s special Darkness Into Light sunrise event on 8th May. Already we have raised important funds for local charities right across Northern Ireland, and we want to keep that momentum going in order to raise more for the vital services they provide.
“We would encourage everyone who is taking part in DIL to be sure of their own safety, especially if they are doing an activity at dawn, and of course, whatever they are doing should be done in compliance with current Covid-19 guidelines set out by the Northern Ireland Executive.”
For those who want to take part by doing a sunrise hike or walk, there’s an abundance of brilliant spots throughout Northern Ireland to choose from.
We asked readers what their favourite lesser-known sunrise locations are and here’s what they told us:
Lough Navar (Fermanagh)
Called one of the ‘jewels’ in the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Lough Navar is a natural wonderland, with bog, heath, open water, native woodland, and coniferous forest.
The location also offers great viewing points over Carrick Lough, meaning it’s perfect for a sunrise walk.
Sawel Mountain (Tyrone)
The highest peak in the Sperrin Mountains, Sawel offers views of the Foyle Estuary, Lough Neagh, and even the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
For those looking for the perfect sunrise hike west of the Bann – look no further than Sawel Mountain.
Cave Hill (Belfast)
Located in North Belfast, Cave Hill gives truly stunning views of the city, the Belfast Lough, and – on a good day – Scotland in the distance.
This iconic landmark has become a major hub for locals and tourists alike in Belfast, offering the perfect panoramas for a sunrise hike.
Murlough Bay (North Coast)
Tucked away down country roads on the north coast near Ballycastle, Murlough Bay is characterised by jaw-dropping, sloping hills and beautiful natural scenery.
With perfect views of the Mull of Kintyre in the distance, this is regarded as a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.
Benone Beach (North Coast)
With golden, sandy beaches, beautiful cliff scenery, and the added bonus of having Mussenden Temple in the backdrop, Benone Beach has become a must-see spot for tourists along the North Coast.
A prime location for a sunrise hike .
Slieve Gullion (Armagh)
At the heart of the Ring of Gullion, Slieve Gullion is a location that holds an important place in Irish mythology.
It’s also a truly stunning spot, offering incredible views of Armagh, Down and, on a good day, Antrim, Dublin Bay and even the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.
Nestled in between some of the Mourne’s biggest peaks, Doan is relatively small in stature compared to the mountain climbs surrounding it.
But this makes it perfect for offering panoramic views of the Mournes and gives you the opportune chance to see the sunrise splitting through the big mountain peaks.
Skernaghan Point (Islandmagee)
Those who have yet to discover the wonders at the top of the Islandmagee peninsula are in for a treat when they visit Skernaghan Point.
The coastal path from Browns Bay will take you along to the Point, offering you stunning views over the Irish Sea – perfect for watching the sunrise in the east.
Ballyquintin Point (Ards Peninsula)
At the very tip of the Ards Peninsula, Ballyquntin Point is another lesser-explored gem waiting to be discovered.
The area, which is also a nature reserve, is a brilliant location for walking, and the coastal path passes through peaceful beaches and farmland. Likely to be one of the quietest spots for a sunrise walk.
Overlooking Strangford Lough, Newtownards, and much of North Down, Scrabo Tower’s spectacular views speak for themselves.
The walk is gentle, taking you along the peaceful countryside, and the sunrise views are predictably incredible.
To find out more information about signing up and fundraising visit www.darknessintolight.com.
Electric Ireland has supported Darkness into Light since 2013, with the common goal of helping those in our communities affected by suicide to look forward with hope.
This year’s Darkness Into Light takes place on Saturday May 8th.
For more information about signing up and fundraising visit www.darknessintolight.com