Walking is one of the most popular forms of exercise in Britain, with over 20% of the population walking recreationally for 30 minutes or more, almost twice as many as swimming. Walking is easily accessible to everyone, young or old, fit or not, people can walk at the pace and in the place that suits them best. And best of all, walking tends to take you into some of the most beautiful scenery the UK and Ireland have to offer.
Of the thousands of visitors to the island of Ireland each year, many come to enjoy the beautiful scenery and walk through Ireland’s diverse landscape. There is something for every walker: cliff and coastal paths, mountain climbs, lakeside walks or moorland hikes. To whet your appetite and encourage you to give your best, here is a selection of the best walks in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
For the more adventurous and fit, there are the long-distance routes of the Wicklow Way or the Kerry Way. Starting at Marlay Park in Dublin, the Wicklow Way winds 132km through the mountains of Wicklow, Glendalough, Glenmalure and Clonegal. It usually takes 5 days to walk the entire Camino, so you’ll need a place to eat and sleep, or you can just choose a section to start with.
For a good day of walking, travel west to beautiful County Mayo and the scenic Keenagh Loop Walk. This takes you from the Bellanaderg Bridge through wonderful scenery and remote wilderness areas. You’ll walk to Derryroe Bridge, down to the Glendorragha Valley and the eastern slopes of Knockaffertagh; and you’ll enjoy beautiful views of Glenhest, Newport and North Mayo. At almost 12 km, it’s a good day hike, but fine for fit, healthy and prepared hikers.
Northern Ireland offers much for the walker. For a big challenge (or tackle it in stages) there’s the 1000km Ulster Way that takes you through Northern Ireland. For a more manageable walking holiday try Ballintoy to Bushmills or the Glenariff Forest Park scenic trail for steep climbs followed by fantastic views. If you want to take a walk with someone who is less mobile, there is a lovely towpath in the Lagan Valley Regional Park that takes you alongside rivers, canal locks and bridges.
And wherever you stay on the island of Ireland there are hundreds of short walks, stroll through the towns and villages, lochs and glens or just head down to the local pub for some fun; there is no better place to walk.
If you love the freedom that walking brings you, you’ll want a vacation spot to live up to. There are hundreds of charming Irish holiday cottages, many set in stunning countryside – from Killarney cottages, Dingle holiday cottages and Fermanagh farms, you’ll find something to suit your lifestyle.