Discover the real luck of the Irish
If you thought Ireland was all Guinness and touching the Blarney Stone, it’s time to take another look. Despite it’s relatively small size, Ireland is a treasure trove of unspoilt scenery and rugged coastlines, perfect for walkers and hikers of every age and ability - and less than an hour’s flight from the UK. We’ve put together some of our favourite walks and hikes on the Emerald Isle.
Nature’s Coastal Masterpiece
A visit to Northern Ireland is simply not complete without a visit to the iconic Giants Causeway in County Antrim. Created by a volcanic eruption, Giants Causeway is an incredible geological masterpiece so stunning that it was featured in popular TV series Game of Thrones. Not for the faint-hearted, the Giants Causeway hike covers 53 kilometres (33 miles) and can be challenging for inexperienced walkers - particularly the trail between the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and Ballycastle which involves navigating a narrow coastal track. The Giants Causeway hike features a number of beaches, rock formations and uneven ground - but it’s worth it for the stunning views of the coast, wildlife and lush forests. Recover from your exertions at one of the many authentic pubs dotted around the region.
By the book
For lovers of literature, the Listowel Literary Walk in the North of County Kerry is not to be missed. An easy walk of just under two and a half miles, this pleasant ramble follows the River Feale around the Listowel Town Park, taking in tributes to Ireland’s literary greats such as John B Keane and George Fitzmaurice. The walk begins in the centre of town and doesn’t require any specialist equipment or planning.
Staying in the loop
Staying within County Kerry, head South to Glanteenassig which is situated between Tralee and Dingle. The Glanteenassig Loop Walk comprises of three easy routes - the 30 minute blue loop, the 15 minute orange loop and, the one and a half hour red loop. Although all routes are relatively easy, the walks take you through wooded areas and some rocky terrain so, sturdy footwear is required. Whichever loop you choose, you’ll see plenty of unspoiled countryside, wildlife and fauna.
From Kerry to Clare
National parks are a great way of taking in the Irish scenery safely and conveniently - and you can do no better than the Burren National Park in County Clare’s Burren. Made up of bedrock and glacial era limestone, the park takes walkers through cliffs and caves with breathtaking views of the Atlantic coast from the famous Cliffs of Moher. Finish your walk with a visit to the village of Doolin which is known for a warm welcome and traditional Irish music enjoyed in its pubs.
Connemara, on the West Coast of Ireland is popular for its stunning scenery, caves and coves and, its National Park is simply wonderful. Mountainous and rugged, the park takes walkers through an array of sights and experiences including a panoramic view from the top. Make sure you set aside a whole day for Connemara National Park to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fabulous views. Walking in Connemara may require some strength and determination, make sure that you take plenty of fluids and wear comfortable shoes.
A head for heights
For experienced hikers, the Mourne mountains offer breathtaking views and clean mountain air. Hare’s Gap is possibly one of the most difficult of Ireland’s hiking trails - so much so that it was once used by smugglers who felt safe in the knowledge that the Garda wouldn’t be able to follow them there. A mixture of rocky paths and steep climbs, Hare’s Gap should not be attempted by any walker unaccustomed to more rugged mountain terrain For those with the stamina, from Hare’s Gap hikers can make the hair-raising climb up to the summit of Slieve Bearnagh for incredible 180 degree views of this magnificent part of the country.
Castles in the sky
Donegal, in the North West of Ireland, is a picturesque combination of ancient castles, awe-inspiring mountains and rugged coastline. The Errigal Mountain and Mackought Mountain hiking trail is moderately challenging but work it for the views from the twin peaks. Around 6 kilometres (3.7 miles), this trail is a loop which takes in Donegal’s highest and most stunning mountain. This trail is most suited to experienced climbers and walkers as it can become perilous toward the summits of the two peaks.
The Beara Way
Winding its way through the towns of Castletownbere, Kenmare and Glengariff, the Beara Way is a long distance walk taking in the stunning peninsula as well as a number of charming villages and countryside. Take a ferry to the islands of Bere and Dursey to make a full day of it. Although fairly long, the Beara Way walk is mostly flat and doesn’t require scrambling skills or specialist equipment.
The wild one
If cities aren’t your thing, take your pick of the many different routes along the 2500 kilometres (1600 miles) Wild Atlantic Way. Hidden beaches, majestic cliffs and buzzing towns are all there for the taking along this incredible coastal route. Explore the Northern headlands and travel back in time as you experience untouched crags, untamed terrain and glacial valleys. Alternatively, make your way from Malin Head to the cosy haven of Kinsale Harbour in the West of the country.
From gentle parkland to soaring mountains, Ireland is a veritable playground for keen walkers and hikers and, you can rest assured that, after a long day, there’ll always be a warm Irish welcome and a touch of the black stuff waiting for you.
When embarking on a walk or hike, it’s important to make sure that you’re fully prepared. For our full guide to walking safely, check out our page HERE.