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Follow the brown signs

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Northern Ireland are brown sign trailblazing (literally)

Reader, please see attached an image of the newly approved brown sign symbols which are going to be rolled out all over Northern Ireland. They’re part of a new initiative to encourage more visitors to explore and take in more of Northern Ireland than just the most regularly visited sites (e.g. The Giant’s Causeway). The symbols will be used on walking routes and cycle paths as well as signing the way to areas of outstanding natural beauty, which is nice and novel and hasn’t been done before so therefore I love it.

I know I’m a brown sign geek but when I see images like this, especially when they denote things like heritage walking trails in the countryside it makes me go all weak at the knees. For me brown signs tell me there’s an adventure to be had, something exciting to discover or a great new place to explore just around the corner, and I’m so glad Northern Ireland are using them to inspire visitors to get off the beaten track to see all the great places across the country.

For all you curious types I’ve listed what they all denote and a little bit about the destination below, going from left to right these symbols mean:

Ship – The Titanic Belfast, this doomed ship is no longer a source of shame in the Belfast area and visitors can now see the intricate details of the ship building through a new Titanic exhibition in a series of 9 galleries using all the newest visitor experience techniques.

Kingfisher – The Kingfisher Trail is a 230 mile cycle trail around the south west of Northern Ireland, it was also the first cycle route in the country to be mapped and signed (now it has spanking new brown ones too!). The kingfisher signifies the peace and tranquillity of the lakes that those lucky cyclists get to enjoy along the trail and it looks gorgeous.

Hiking man – Walking trail, generic to be used on a variety of walking trails around NI.

Fern – Rural walking route

The Boot – Quality rural walking route

Bishops’s hat (AKA “mitre”) and staff – The St Patrick’s Trail takes visitors around the spiritual cradle of Ireland through the ancient counties of Armagh and Down exploring the life and times of St Patrick when he came to Ireland to establish Christianity. St Patrick was born in around 400AD somewhere across the Irish Sea in either England, Scotland or Wales, (no one really knows where but we’ve all made claims anyway) but was kidnapped by an Irish gang at the age of 15 to work as a slave just about the time when Roman rule was beginning to lose its grip on Britain. After working as a shepherd in Ireland he escaped and returned home where he trained as a priest and then became a bishop within 10 years. Charismatic,  passionate and a man on a mission St Patrick returned to Ireland to establish the Christian faith among the people of Ireland and he certainly made his mark, not least in inspiring millions of people in March each year to get battered on Guinness.  The trail is dotted with attractions, monuments and places of interest and provides a fantastic way to both explore and uncover Ireland’s fascinating history (and definitely next on my things to do list).

The rest are for cycle routes and areas of outstanding natural beauty around the country:

Mourne Cycle Route & Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Antrim Coast & Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Sperrin Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Strangford & Lecale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Sperrin Cycle RouteInishowen Cycle Route
Faughan Valley Cycle Route
Strangford Lough Cycle Route


As ever keep me posted in all your brown sign sightings, especially the unique and intriguing ones like the Northern Irish ones and for God’s sake keep following them, look at the great places just these point to, how idyllic do all these places look for heaven’s sake? Jeeze how I love brown tourist signs…

(A very nice man called Simon at Buchanan Computing sent me these brown sign symbols by the way. Without his genius sign design software I wouldn’t be able to waste whole afternoons designing my own signs to imaginary places and laughing at my own creations, and for this I also thank him).