Walks for everyone this weekend
Whether you have babies in buggies or want to challenge yourself on the ‘Irish Kilimanjaro’, here are some of the best walks to take around the country
Castle Island, Lough Key Forest Park, Boyle, Co Roscommon. The park offers great walking trails and lots of activities for older children
Good with small children
Burren National Park, Co Clare
The orange and green routes make for nice easy walks through woodland and wildflower-rich grassland, with lots of nature to explore. There are tea rooms nearby at Lough Avalla farm and “Fr Ted’s house” is just down the road, too, although that might go over the heads of the small ones.
Mannin Bay, Connemara, Co Galway
The kids can walk for as long or as little as they want on the grassy seaside plains here, and you can bring them down to the beach after. Just keep an eye out for livestock that wander freely here.
Cavan Burren Park, Co Cavan
This educational walk is short enough for small legs, with informative panels along the route. It’s a good walk in any weather, with good restaurants in Blacklion, including Neven Maguire’s MacNean House. As a bonus, a visit can be tied in with nearby Shannon Pot and Marble Arch Caves.
Good with older children
Avonmore Way, Co Wicklow
A good half-day hike with a nice mix of woods and hills, though there is a little walking on windy country roads that need care, so not ideal for smaller ones.
The High Brow of Glencree, Co Wicklow
This is a short but substantial walk with easy access from Dublin. Lots of history to entertain and an ideal day out for adults and older (properly equipped) children. Great views and you can finish with cake at the Armoury Cafe in Grencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre.
This wild and remote loop in Mayo’s Nehpin Beg wilderness area is a great place for older kids to let loose. You can also add to the adventure with an overnight in the camping shelter along the way.
Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon
The old Rockingham Estate on the shores of Lough Key is ideal for families. Older kids especially will enjoy activities such as Boda Borg – a centre with 47 rooms filled with Krypton Factor-style challenges – and the opportunity to try zip lining and other outdoor pursuits.
Mullaghmore Loop, Co Sligo
This walk offers some excellent views over Mullaghmore Harbour, the mighty Ben Bulben and out to the crashing waves favoured by the region’s surfers. Lots of history thanks to the Mountbattens, and suitable for all ages, even those in a buggy. Lots of pubs, cafes and restaurants in the harbour.
Cruach Mharthain, Co Kerry
This walk offers a great sea to summit experience, and your reward at the top is a sweeping view over the western end of the Dingle Peninsula, including Clogher Beach, the Brandon mountain range, Ventry, Dingle and Smerwick harbours, and out to the west, the Blasket islands.
Looking for a challenge
Maamturks, Co Galway
Known to some hillwalkers as “tougher than Kilimanjaro”, the middle section, Binn idir an Dá Log (Peak between Two Hollows), is a 14km hike, with 850m of climbing (it should take experienced walkers about six hours). Steep and at times rocky, the views are incredible across Connemara.
The Tochar Phadraig
One of Ireland’s many ancient pilgrim paths, Tochar Phadraig is the original pilgrim route from Ballintubber Abbey towards Croagh Patrick. A challenging 17km, it runs on the south side of multi-topped Crott Mountain, an outlying shoulder of the Reek.
Mweelrea, Co Mayo
Overlooking the picturesque Murrisk peninsula, this peak stands at over 800m and looks down on a range of pristine beaches, island-studded bays, ancient ice-riven mountains, and the special magic of the Twelve Bens and Connemara. A challenging walk, suitable for adults and fit, adventurous properly equipped kids. It requires good weather and experience.
Easy to get to
Grand Canal Way (from Hazelhatch to Sallins)
There are trains stations at both ends of this walk, making for easy access from Dublin whether you have a car or not.
If you finish this gentle walk at Hazelhatch, you can end your walk with lunch or dinner at McEvoy’s lovely canalside pub
Raven Point, Co Wexford
This is a lovely, low-level walk in any weather. A waymarked trail of about 9km offers an unusual mix of forest, dunes and beach.It offers great views of Wexford town and is suitable for all ages.
Boyne Ramparts, Navan, Co Meath
A refreshing riverside stroll along the rolling River Boyne under wonderful big mature trees. Look out for otters, kingfishers, dippers and herons. It’s 8km out to Broadboyne Bridge (so if you have two cars you could end your walk here) but the return journey gives you more time to enjoy the history and archaeology – there are lots of canal ruins on the way plus the ruins of Dunmoe castle, Ardmulchan church and cemetery, plus Ardmulchan Demesne.
Walks with a nice pub at the end
Baltimore Beacon Walk, Co Cork
This walk is easy to get to, starting and finishing in the village of Baltimore. It’s a gentle walk, full of history – records date back to the 13th century here – taking you out to Baltimore’s famous Beacon (“Lot’s Wife”) which was built in 1849 to guide ships passing below. Return to the village and a well-deserved pint in Casey’s of Baltimore, a family-run pub & restaurant.
Slievemore, Achill Island, Co Mayo
This walk takes you across the western side of Achill island, from Dugort in the north to Keel in the south (or vice versa). Great views south to Claire Island, Inishturk and Inishbofin, it’s easy to get to, although tough but rewarding. Finish with a well-earned pint in one of the great pubs in either Dugort or Keel.
Nore Valley Walk, Co Kilkenny
This gentle riverside walk from Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny follows the path of the Nore River, ending in the pictureseque village of Inistioge, which is home to the the Woodstock Arms, a lovely spot for some refreshments.