Ireland has some of the best walking and hiking trails in the world and with lockdown and the easing of restrictions it’s the perfect time to get on the hiking boots and spend some time in nature! With a backdrop of stunning landscapes, you can choose your adventure from a range of challenging adventures and majestic mountain ranges to leisurely strolls through historical trails.
1 – The Hellfire Club, Dublin
To kick off this list let’s start with something short and snappy! It has a variety of short forest trails and provides wonderful views of the city from the south-west and is perfect for beginner hikers or someone who just wants an easy Sunday walk. On the weekend you’ll find tonnes of dog and there is even a lovely coffee shop beside the carpark…perfect for a weekend catch up with the girlies.
The best-known Hellfire club story is the one in which the Devil himself appears. A stranger had joined the members at a game of cards. At some point one of the card players dropped a card on the floor. As he bent down to retrieve it he noticed that the stranger had cloven hooves instead of feet…and well…the rest is history!
2 – Erris Head Loop Walk, Mayo
This off-the-beaten path is a beautiful coastal walk with views of the sea and cliffs. Hikers will also see the ruined watchtower and EIRE 64 sign. There are markers along the route to indicate the trail. Keep in mind doggies aren’t allowed on this walk as it’s reserved for grazing sheep! The loop is about 5 kilometers lightly trafficked loop trail located near Béal an Mhuirthead, County Mayo, Ireland that offers the chance to see all walks of wildlife, this is an amazing walk for all types of hikers. Plus it’s possibly one of the most Instagram-able places I’ve ever been!
3 – Lough Ouler aka The Heart Shaped Lake, Wicklow
One of my favourite things to do in Wicklow is to take a hike up Tonelagee to see Lough Ouler – Ireland’s heart-shaped lake! I’m sure you have seen all the pictures posted throughout the Summer months and have been dying to go. Now, this hike is not beginner-friendly and I would recommend wearing waterproof boots (trust me, I’ve learned the hard way!) it can be super boggy so runners can take a miss on this one. The hike can take about four hours depending on how many snack breaks you take…I always end up taking a couple! You can park at Glenmacnass Waterfall, which is amazing in itself but get down their early it can get really busy throughout the day.
4 – Croagh Patrick, Mayo
Croagh Patrick is steeped in Irish history, religion, and mythology. At 764m high and offering breathtaking views across Clew Bay it’s also a rite of passage for hiking enthusiasts! Now I must admit this is a complete day job (I couldn’t walk after!) and a difficult climb at times (I think I was on my hands and knees crawling up rocks at one stage) but the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean make it all worth it. It’s also great for people who tend to get lost easily as it’s really straightforward. There is also amazing comradery between hikers cheering each other on the climb up and down. A must is a visit to one of the nearby pubs when you’re finished for some grub and pint it makes it all worth it.
5 – Carrauntoohil Mountain, Kerry
This a gorgeous hike to the top of the tallest mountain in Ireland. Though there are several different routes up Carrauntoohil, the Devil’s Ladder is the most common route and a killer on the legs, you’ll have buns of steel by the end of it! Keep in mind most of the “ladder” itself has become eroded and loose rock makes the scramble up and down… let’s say….exciting, but very rewarding! The hike itself is best done through April till September and I’d only recommend experienced hikers to take up this adventure but don’t worry build-up from the hikes mentioned in the list above and you’ll be Bear Grills in no time!