Walking clubs are a great way to socialise, and they're delighted to have you along. The Irish Heart Foundation (irishheart.ie) lists dozens in the Republic, and the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs (www.ufrc-online.co.uk) can put you in touch with more than 30 in Northern Ireland.
For more ideas, consult your local tourist office.
Winter Walking Festivals 2010-11
- December 30-January 2: Go Ireland New Year Walking Festival, Co Kerry This Killarney-based walking festival (above right) offers walks ranging from a gentle toddle around the lakes to a serious climb up our highest peak Carrantuohill.
Info: 066 976 2094; govisitireland.com.
- December 31-January 3: Christmas Walking Festival,
Westport, Co Mayo High-level or low-level walks to suit all abilities, plus fabulous music in the evenings.
Info: 098 26090; mayowalks.ie.
- January 28-30: Glen of Aherlow Winter Walking Festival, Co Tipperary Tackle the snowy Galty Mountains or lower routes around the glen, then party till dawn at Aherlow House Hotel.
Info: 062 6331; aherlow.com
- March 5-6: Táin Walking Festival, Carlingford, Co Louth
A weekend exploring the glorious hill scenery of the Cooley Peninsula -- walks for all levels of fitness and ability.
Info: 042 935 3116; discover ireland.com.
- St Patrick's Weekend, March: Ardara Walking Festival, Co Donegal
Donegal-style fun -- tough hill climbs, country walks, seaside rambles, craic in the evenings.
Info: 086 234 1061; ardara.ie.
- March 18-20: Croagh Patrick Walking Festival, Co Mayo
Three days on foot along the 38-mile Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail, ending at the foot of Croagh Patrick (pictured left). More talking, singing, music and fun than you can shake a stick at!
Info: 094 936 6709; croagh patrickheritagetrail.com.