Walking in Ireland
Bored with the route you’ve been taking around the housing estate, local park or village? Here’s our list of top 10 walks in Ireland that may help to add a little variety to your weekend walking!
1 The Leitrim Way, Leitrim
Leitrim is a little known but very beautiful part of Ireland. This walk passes through a variety of landscape features common to the area. Starting at the East shore of Lough Allen, the walker travels through magnificent scenery until reaching Barlear. The route is made up of old and new tracks. It is generally more attractive to walk from Drumshambo to Manorhamilton. The total distance is 48km/30 miles and the longest stage is from Dowra to Manorhamilton which is approximately a distance of 32km/20 miles.
2 Howth Coastal Path, Dublin
Start your walk to the east of Howth Village at the parking area of Balscadden Bay. From here, a track takes you up and around the Nose of Howth and onto the cliff tops. Continue uphill, taking in the stunning views of Lambay Island and Ireland’s Eye. Care must be taken as the path runs very close to the edge of the cliff. Moving upwards to 120m, a slight detour to the south takes you to Baily Lighthouse, the last of Ireland’s 82 lighthouses to become automated. Further on, at the highest point of the walk (171m), the Ben of Howth awaits and is marked by an ancient burial cairn, which, according to legend, is said to be the final resting place of the last of the Irish giants. Your return to Howth Village begins along a path running parallel to your outward route.
3 The Western Way, Galway
This famous trail, The Western Way, begins in Oughterard on the shores of Lough Corrib. It winds its way through Connemara’s Highlands offering superb views of mountains, lakes and coast, including the great fjord of Killary harbour.
4 Jenkinstown Park, Co. Kilkenny
This Forest Park is associated with the Thomas Moore melody “The Last Rose of Summer”. There is a deer park, developed walks of varying length as well as an estate and farmbuildings which add interest to the park.
5 Lough Derg, County Donegal
This walk is based on the route of a Pilgrimage path which has been in use since the 12th Century. Today the route is fully sign-posted and extends through an area being managed by Coillte, the Irish Forestry organisation. In addition to its historical interest, the walk also offers exceptional lakeside views of Lough Derg and the surrounding countryside. It is approximately 12 kilometres so allow 4 hours to complete it.
6 Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, Wicklow
The Sugar Loaf arises at the verge of the Wicklow Mountains, just south of Bray. The combination of its conical tip and its isolation from other hills makes the Great Sugar Loaf one of Ireland’s most distinctive peaks. While its overall shape is only 503m high, it appears much taller due to its height relative to the surrounding landscape. The end of the trail is adventurous because hikers need to climb the last 50m to reach the summit. However, you will be rewarded with spectacular views to Howth, Powerscourt Estate, the Wicklow Mountains and over Killiney Bay.
7 Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry
This area offers an extraordinary number of rings forts, high crosses and other ancient monuments. A hiking delight is Mt Brandon, at 951m Ireland’s second-highest mountain. There are two walking trails up. A gradual one from the west and a more exciting one from the east, allow at least five hours for the climb.
8 Gougane Barra Forest Park, Co. Cork
Gougane Barra Forest Park is located in the Shehy Mountains, 20 km southwest of Ballingeary in County Cork. The backdrop of rugged hills, dark pine forests and tranquil Gougane Barra Lake create a unique atmosphere of magical calmness. There is a tiny island in the lake with an isolated chapel dating from the 19th century. Against the wild scenery of Gougane Barra, the chapel is one of the most photographed sites in County Cork.
In 1966 the area was named as Ireland’s first national park. The name Gougane Barra derives from St. Finbarr (Barra in Irish, the patron saint of Cork), who is said to have built his monastery on the island in the lake in the 6th century, and means “Barra’s retreat enclosed by mountains”.
The forest park offers six hiking trails of different levels and some of them are leading to picturesque waterfalls and viewpoints.
9 Durrow, Co. Laois
Durrow is located at the intersection of the main Dublin-Cork N7 road and the N77 road from the southeast. The town is surrounded by some fine woods, hilly forests and a maze of rivers. These walks offer the serious walker a loop of 20 kilometres (12½ miles) or a variety of shorter walks for beginners or the more casual stroller. You can join the circuit wherever you wish and use one of several shortcuts to devise a loop to suit your own time and energy levels.
10 The Glen of Aherlow, Co. Tipperary
The name ‘Aherlow’ is derived from the Irish, ‘eathralach’ meaning between two highlands. The highlands referred to are the Slievenamuck where the car park is situated with excellent views of the Galtee Mountains across the valley. Slievenamuck is said to be named after a great pig slain there by Fionn MacCumhail. The walk is 7.4km (4.5 miles) with a climb of 250 metres (775 feet). Allow 2 hours to walk it.