If you, like me, overindulged a little at Christmas, then you might be mulling over how you can spend less time in pubs and more time outdoors in 2020.
For those of you looking to get the heart rate up while diving into some of the best scenery that Ireland has to offer, then this guide’s for you.
We’ve teamed up with the folks at Hillwalk Tours to take you through 7 of the best walks in Ireland that you can conquer solo or with friends in 2020.
Here’s a quick look at where we’ll be ramblin’
Let’s get cracking ??
1 – The Causeway Coast Way in Antrim
The chances are you’ve heard about the Causeway Coastal Route.
Rated one of the top five road trips in the world, the Causeway Costal Route offers the perfect combination of rugged coastline, dramatic towering cliffs and gorgeous little villages and towns.
While we’ve created guides for driving along it in the past, we’ve never delved into what it’s like to walk it.
For those looking to get the heart rate up, one of the best ways to experience Antrim’s magnificent landscape is by embarking upon the Causeway Coast Way walk.
The trail links the towns of Ballycastle and Portstewart and takes in some of Antrim’s most popular attractions like:
- The Giants Causeway
- The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
- Dunluce Castle
2 – The Drung Hill Walk in Kerry
For those of you with Kerry on your ‘to-explore’ list for 2020, you’re in for a treat.
Home to a seemingly endless number of adventure opportunities, Kerry is perfect for those looking for walks in Ireland that are packed with breathtaking scenery from beginning to end.
Our second stroll takes us on the Drung Hill Mountain Walk, which is arguably my favourite chunk of the Kerry Way.
This route follows an old pagan pilgrimage path to the summit of Drung Hill near the wonderful town of Glenbeigh in Kerry.
For those that reach the summit, you’ll be treated to a magnificent 360 view that takes in one of the best views in Ireland.
One of the easiest landmarks to spot are the majestic MacGillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range at a dizzying 1,038m.
Keep an eye out for Valentia Island to the east and the Dingle Peninsula to the west. On a clear day you’ll be able to see the sandy shores of Inch and Rossbeigh beaches.
3 – The Glendalough Spink Walk in Wicklow
Back in the 6th century, St. Kevin came across a beautiful sanctuary in a valley in Wicklow.
He was inspired to build his monastery at Glendalough, drawing scholars from all over Europe to study in the tranquil paradise.
The areas appeal is even greater today, with people travelling from across the world to experience the beauty and peace that compelled St. Kevin to settle here.
Climbing above the lake, on a trail called The Spinc, you’ll be treated to a superb view of the valley that lays beneath.
Glendalough can be found while hiking the Wicklow Way, or simply as a standalone destination for a day trip.
4 – The King’s Mountain Looped Walk in Sligo
Our fourth walk take us across to Ireland’s west coast to a county that’s beauty inspired the works of W.B Yeats.
Sligo. An absolute peach of a spot.
Our Sligo ramble, known as the Kings Mountain Looped Walk, takes us up the tabletop-like mountain of Benbulbin.
For those that tackle the King’s Mountain looped walk, you’ll get up close and personal with the mountain’s crags and near-vertical gullies, while being treated to magnificent views out over the surrounding countryside.
If you’re visiting Sligo, get up early, finish the walk before the afternoon and then spend the rest of the day exploring the many other attractions the county has to offer.
5 – The Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Mountain Walk
I did the walk along Cuilcagh’s boardwalk (often referred to as Ireland’s great wall) twice in 2018 and I’d happily do it several more times this year.
It’s a handy drive from where I live in Dublin and the views that you’re treated to from the top are pretty damn special.
The one thing to watch out for is parking. It can be pretty tight if you don’t arrive early – so look to arrive before 9 if you’re visiting on the weekend.
At 665m high, Cuilcagh is by no means the tallest in Ireland, but it packs a mighty punch with breathtaking views at every turn on a clear day.
6 – The Dingle Way in Kerry
This is one of those walks in Ireland that I have filed away in my head marked ‘to-conquer-before-I-kick- the-bucket’.
The Dingle Way is a roughly 176km (109 mile) long hiking route that snakes around the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, taking in some of the best coastal scenery that Ireland has to offer.
Now, this walk isn’t for the faint hearted.
It takes 8 days to complete but may take longer depending on your level of fitness.
That being said, if you’ve less time to play with, you can easily join the trail at any number of points.
The route itself takes you across beaches, up hills and through quaint Irish villages. Dingle, the most westerly town in Europe, is one of the highlights, with charm and craic galore.
For those of you setting Dingle town as your base, expect authentic Irish hospitality, fresh seafood and many a buzzy pub.
7 – The Beara Way in Cork
We’ve kept the most remote and unspoilt Irish walking trail for last: the Beara Way.
Home to some of Ireland’s wildest scenery, a walk along the Beara Peninsula provides explorers with an immense opportunity to disconnect and bask in the silent beauty that comes by the bucket-load in this corner of Ireland.
No hiking trip to Beara would be complete without taking the ferry to one of the nearby islands: a trip to Bere Island is well worth it, while a spin on Ireland’s only cable-car can be taken for those that visit the sparsely occupied Dursey Island.
Ready for a hiking trip in Ireland?
The folks at Hillwalk Tours offer plenty of brilliant self-guided hiking experiences.
Explore Ireland by foot during the day and rest your head in a carefully chosen B&B at night.
If you have any questions about hiking in Ireland or walks, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you shortly!