Alternative St Patrick’s Day: hill hikes and coastal walks
Try out a forest walk, a charity cycle or a road race over the holiday weekend
A part of Bray-Greystones cliff walk with a view of Bray Head in the background. Photograph: Getty Images
If a day of debauchery or crowded parades doesn’t tickle your fancy when it comes to celebrating our national day, there is an abundance of St Patrick’s Day events and activities that will see you return to work on the Tuesday morning with a spring in your step. From DIY hikes to organised fun runs and charity walks, there’s a whole lot going on over the bank holiday weekend.
Head for the Dublin hills
Located on the outskirts of Dublin, Ticknock offers a great network of mountain and forest walks. You can drive to Ticknock – nestled in the hills just beyond Sandyford, south Dublin – from the city centre in around half an hour.
Approximately 10km of walking trails through forests and mountains offer panoramic views of Dublin from the top of Three Rock Mountain. You can do an out-and-back if you don’t want to go too far, or there are plenty of looped walks in this area such as the 5.5km Fairy Castle Loop.
The trails are fairly well maintained, with some rocky and muddy sections, and are of moderate difficulty with some steep climbs. The main forest roads are very doable for all levels of fitness, and are definitely family friendly.
Beat a path from Bray to Greystones
This rugged coastal path takes you 7km along the cliffs between Bray and Greystones in Co Wicklow. If you want to go one way, from Bray for example, you can hop on the Dart to take you back to your starting point. But not before a tasty lunch stop in one of the delicious cafés that Greystones has to offer, of course.
The path winds its way along the side of Bray Head and is well maintained, although muddy in places at certain times of year. It also offers cliffs, marine wildlife and beautiful sea views. The route one way will take you around an hour and a half depending on your pace. (It is at its best early in the day when the cliff catches the sun – if there is any.)
You can also climb to the top of Bray Head if you want an even better view along the east coast, over Dublin city and out to the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.
Pedal power at Galway City St Patrick’s Festival charity cycle
Galway is to host a fun charity cycle as part of its St Patrick’s weekend celebrations. Taking place on March 18th, this family-friendly event will use the Galway City Bikes on a race route around the city. Taking in High Street, Mainguard Street and Upper Cross Street, the event will feature cyclists from various clubs in the county who will battle it out in a number of relay races and knockouts of up to 12 laps. galwaytourism.ie
Take part in the St Patrick’s Festival 5K road race
The annual Festival 5K Road Race is back for 2018. Kicking off from St Stephen’s Green, the course will take you through the heart of beautiful Georgian Dublin and is suitable for families, fun runners and dedicated athletes.
A lively atmosphere is guaranteed as street performers, face painters and musicians will be on hand to entertain the masses along the route. The race will take place on March 18th at noon. It costs €20 to enter. msbac.ie
Tackle the Tralee International Marathon
This community-organised event will see runners of all abilities – from elite runners to first-timers – run along one of our country’s most scenic routes on March 18th. Following the river Lee all the way out to Tralee Bay, there will be plenty to distract you from the task in hand.
If a marathon seems a little out of your reach, then don’t worry, there are also half-marathon, 10km and 5km option. The races cost €50, €40, €30 and €20 respectively. traleemarathon.com
Complete the Harbour2Harbour walk
The Harbour2Harbour walk is a great alternative to the usual Paddy’s Day madness. Mental health charity Aware is urging people to grab their walking shoes and take on a 26km challenge from Howth to Dún Laoghaire (or vice versa) on March 17th.
With more than 2,000 people set to take part and a Halfway Hooley at Dublin Port offering music and refreshments, it’s usually a great day out. All funds raised from the event will go to the charity. aware.ie
Enjoy the Cliffs of Moher walk
The Cliffs of Moher walk in Co Clare is one of our favourites. And with good reason. There is something invigorating about watching the wild Atlantic Ocean crashing against the dramatic cliffs as you meander along observing from above.
Starting at the Cliffs of Moher Visitors’ Centre, you can opt for the 8km route to Doolin or really challenge yourself with the entire 18km to Liscannor. The route is suitable for all levels of fitness due to its relatively flat terrain. However, those without a head for heights should be warned that the trail is a little exposed in places.
Local man Pat Sweeney hosts guided walks along the cliffs and does a pick-up at O’Connor’s Pub in Doolin. If you fancy doing the walk just one way on your own, there is a shuttle bus which runs between Doolin and Liscannor. doolincliffwalk.com
Take part in the Ardara International Walking Festival
Taking place in Donegal, Ardara’s renowned walking festival has something for everyone. Offering short, medium and strenuous walks, it’s a great way to see this wild and rugged part of the country.
From March 16th to march 18th, you can opt to take on as much or little as you like. However, we would highly recommend the Port to Maghera walk on the Saturday. This must be one of the best coastal walks in the country. At 13km with 620m of ascent, a good level of fitness is required. There is also a selection of less strenuous hikes offering spectacular scenery over the course of the weekend.
The event costs €20 for one walk or €30 for two walks. ardara.ie
Heather Snelgar and Roisin Finlay edit outsider.ie, Ireland’s outdoor and adventure website