5 RECOMMENDED WALKING TRAILS IN IRELAND
Here are five walking trails we would recommend around the country that are beautiful scenic routes to follow if you happen to be travelling to or live near any of these areas! Some are slightly more difficult than others but I think they are accessible for almost all levels of fitness! If you are searching for the best walking trails in Ireland, explore the following options.
Cuilcagh, Co. Fermanagh
I’ll start with this one because a lot of people might disagree and label this as difficult and more of a hike than a walk, which would make this one fall into the category of Hiking Trails in Ireland, rather than walking trails! They would be right however I feel because you are on a boardwalk on this trail, it makes it more accessible to inexperienced hikers than it was prior to the boardwalk being there. So, for that reason I’m including it in as a walking trail! The most direct route is by following the Legnabrocky Trail to the summit of the mountain. Then there is the option of going further along the summit plateau until you reach an ancient cairn dating from the Bronze Age (This part is a little trickier and be warned it can be very windy at the top!)
All along the Cuilcagh Trail you have views of the Cuilcagh Mountains and the trail is set on a vast expanse of rare blanket bog. The boardwalk is flat for a certain length of the trail and for the steeper parts of the climb you are ascending steps. If this part of the trail feels too difficult you can always walk as far as the steps before turning back. If you do make it to the summit the views are breath-taking. Particularly of Lough Atona, a lake formed in the Ice Age 13,000 years ago. Wrap up for this one, even on a nice day, as you ascend you are exposed to the weather with no shelter! Bring water and snacks, something filling that can be easily consumed along the way and pack a picnic for when you get back down. You could bring your picnic with you to have at the top but my experience has been that lunch at the top is a better idea at the bottom and windy conditions do not make for an enjoyable picnic! The great thing about a day out like this is it’s inexpensive. The only costs involved are getting there and food!
Causeway Coast Walking Route, Co. Antrim
This route from Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge to the Giants Causeway comes highly recommended, the famous Carrick a Rede rope bridge alone is worth the trip! This is a walk along the coast that takes roughly four to five hours and boasts some of the most breath-taking views. Starting at Carrick a Rede the route is signposted but it’s good idea to map out the route. Keep in mind that there are certain sections of it you must be careful at. White Park Bay is one to note that cannot be crossed via the beach during high tide, you will have to take an alternative route. You can check out the tide times before you leave to make sure. You could probably complete this route in less time than above but it really depends on where you stop along the way and how long for! There is so much to see from beautiful sandy beaches to Dunseverick castle to picturesque villages all along the way, you never know what is around the corner!
The entire route along the coast is 33miles so really this is a trip you could do over a couple of days, staying overnight along the way. This is just a small section of the route. Alternatively, if you had smaller kids, there are numerous carparks along the route so you could pull in, walk a small part of the route and turn back! If you plan to go from Carrick a Rede to the Giants Causeway, there are buses operating that will take you back to your starting point. These buses are seasonal so make sure to check before you go! Here is a link to them:
Causeway Coastal Buses
There are also plenty of walking tours available if you wish to join in and go with a guide!
Find out more about the route here:
Causeway Coastal Walk
Glendalough Lake Walk (Spinc and Glenealo Valley, White Route) Co. Wicklow
There are a few different routes to take around Glendalough. This route is longer however, there are shorter routes to try. Glendalough is so beautiful that even a walk through Glenealo Valley and back is well worth the trip. However, if you’re feeling a bit more energetic and looking for more spectacular views then follow the White route up onto the boardwalk over the cliffs and you will have fantastic views of the Upper Lake, definitely one of the best hiking trails in ireland and its route is meant to be followed clockwise. Starting at the Upper Lake car park if you follow the arrows for the white route they lead you up by the Poulanass Waterfall, up a steep ascent and steps to the boardwalk that runs on top of the cliffs. Then back down a rocky descent into Glenealo Valley. Personally, I prefer the route anticlockwise. So, you start by passing through Glenealo Valley, up over the cliffs and descend the steep steps. It is still a little bit strenuous but I found it easier climbing down the steps as opposed to climbing up them!
Again, weather permitting if you fancy hiking to the top, I’d advise to dress warmly and wear appropriate shoes as it can be quite slippery on the boardwalk at the top. Snacks and drinks are advisable however it can be completed in three hours so they should suffice until you have completed the trail. Once back in the carpark you can have a picnic or there is a food hut selling burgers, chips etc. There is a fee for the carpark but other than that unless you buy food there are no other costs.
Plenty of other things to do in or around Glendalough if you wish to see more!
Mullaghmeen Forest, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath
This is one of the remarkable walking trails in Ireland, set in the beautiful grounds of Mullaghmeen forest, the largest beech forest in Ireland providing stunning scenic routes in which to follow. There are a couple of different trails to choose from and all are easily accessible with some suitable for strollers. The routes can be hard to follow so, the best thing you can do is bring a compass with you. It is so peaceful here with beautiful scenery all along the way. In April and May, it is simply stunning when all the bluebells are in bloom and in autumn when all the leaves are changing colours. On the trails, you can follow along until you reach the highest point in Westmeath! Which is not very dramatic compared with other trails around the country! However, it does still offer beautiful views across Lough Sheelin. There are remains of Flax Pits, Famine Fields, and a Booley Hut, a summer grazing shelter all to be found here. I think what makes Mullaghmeen worth a visit is how peaceful and serene it is, another bonus is dogs are allowed here! The only downside, it can be hard to find, so here is a link to Coillte that has directions:
Directions to Mullaghmeen
Mullaghmeen again is free of charge making it a great walking trail to pass the time for kids in the summer holidays.! if you wanted to make a day of it, just a 20 minute drive away sits Fore Abbey. This an old monastic ruin in Ireland which is an enjoyable day out for both adults and children! Find out more about it here: Fore Abbey
Bray to Greystones, Co.Wicklow
This walk (and this is just a walk!) is easily accessible for any level of fitness. You can take in the beautiful scenic views out over the Irish Sea as you make your way from either Bray to Greystones or in reverse. Typically, what people tend to do is walk one way and get the DART back to where they started. You could turn and walk back in the direction you came, it roughly takes 1.5 hours each way. This walk is accessible to younger kids but I think a 3-hour round trip might be too much! If you’re on your own with no kids you can do a round trip, although it might get a bit monotonous. If you do have kids with you my advice would be to walk one way and get the DART back and younger kids will love a spin on the train! Word of warning though the terrain can be rocky in some parts so wear suitable footwear. Both are beautiful seaside towns that have plenty to see and do and lots of choice for something to eat.
Saving the best part of this trip until the last, is that upon reaching Greystones be it at the start or end of the route you can make a stop at the famous Happy Pear café! If you haven’t been or you haven’t yet tasted any of the food in their range then put this at the top of your to-do list! The food here is amazing! It’s healthy, nutritious food that is affordable and the portions are huge! Check them out here:
In addition to its stunning hiking trails, Ireland offers a plethora of other enchanting destinations that are well worth a visit. Whether you’re organizing a family trip and seeking out the best campsites in Ireland or embarking on a romantic honeymoon and searching for idyllic spots, there is something for everyone. For those seeking an immersive experience in nature, renting a campervan or indulging in camping amidst Ireland’s picturesque landscapes can provide an unforgettable adventure.