The top 10 family walking trails in Ireland
Published 05/09/2015 | 11:24
Ireland has some of greatest walking trails in Europe or indeed the world. Here are the 10 best.
A thankless task, trying to name the ten best walking trails in Ireland. Each county can legitimately claim several routes as the best in the country, but if you have to make a top 10, it would look something like this. Bear in mind, these are with the whole family in mind, there are many, many more with higher difficulty, but that’s another story.
The Great Western Greenway
Following the route of the former Achill extension of the Westport railway line the 42 kilometre trail starts in Westport and ends on Achill. The disused railway line has both paths and off road sections, and runs along the coast at Clew Bay at what is one of Ireland’s most scenic areas. As the trail uses a disused railway line it is almost all flat and manageable for all members of the family. There can be quite a bit of ‘traffic’ on the trail in the summer months but this is an outstanding attraction, not only one of the best in Ireland but indeed Europe.
The Beara Way
West Cork is stunning and the Beara Way which begins and ends in Glengarriff takes in some spectacular scenery as it snakes its way around the Beara peninsula. The terrain is rugged and it may not be suitable for younger children, but the more challenging parts are more than worth the effort. Typically the route takes nine days to complete, but you can dip in for various sections at your leisure.
The Connemara Way
Starting in Galway city the trail takes you out along Galway Bay, through Spiddal and Carraroe then northwards along the Wild Atlantic Way. Connemara is unique in Ireland and the world and while the trail is a mixed bag in terms of difficulty, the easier stretches pass along some of the best coastline and beaches in the country. An unforgettable adventure for the whole family.
Sheep’s Head way
Starting in Bantry West Cork, the Sheep’s’ Head Way takes in the Sheep’s’ Head peninsula and all the magical wonders of that part of the world including the Haunted Elder bush, stone Cairns, Lady’s Well and the Signal Tower, each with their own distinct histories and stories to tell. The trail is in total 150 km and parts of it are cycleable too.
The Brandy Pad
From Bloody Bridge to the Trassey Track, The Brandy Pad takes you through the Mournes. Take in the exceptional sights such as the Mourne Wall, the Castles, Slieve Commedagh and Slieve Donard. The Mourne Mountains are among the most majestic scenes in Ireland and are still somewhat underused by walkers from the Republic. The difficulty level is moderate but for an active family, no problem.
Bray to Greystones
Once Wicklow’s best-kept secret, the secret has been well and truly out for the last few years. That doesn’t take from the beauty of the Bray to Greystones trail , easy walking with some scrambling to do, the coast line is beautiful and you’ll more than likely meet some barking seals basking in the hidden coves as you pass overhead.
The Burren Way
Traverse the lunar landscape of the Burren from Lahinch across to Doolin on the other side of this spectacular area of natural importance. Mostly over old roadways and minor roads the Way is suitable for all ages. The Way is accessible through six trailheads each providing parking and facilities, even for overnight stops if necessary.
The Kerry Way
Beginning and ending in Killarney the Kerry Way may be the most iconic of Irish landscapes. With over 214 km of walking trail it is also one of Ireland’s longest waymarked trails. With the Gulfstream providing a clement climate the trail is populated with sub-tropical fauna and the effect is mesmerizing.
The Wicklow Way
So near to Dublin, yet The Wicklow Way is a world apart. The Garden of Ireland is one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties and the Wicklow Mountains National Park is exceptional. The proximity to the city means you can do any sections of it as a day trip but it’s best appreciated when you’re lost in the wilds of Wicklow over a few days. With 129 km of walking trail there is something for everyone.
The Dingle Way
Beginning and ending in Tralee County Kerry, the Dingle Way circles the whole peninsula. The trail brings you through an ever-changing landscape, from the desolate beauty of Slieve Mish along the shoulder of Mount Brandon, with the battered Atlantic coast at Slea Head across gentle Kerry farmland to the expanses of golden strands at Maharess. A favourite stop off is Tom Crean’s South Pole Inn in Annascaul.
Ireland’s Irelands Biggest Nature Walk: Fun, Free Family Day Out! To celebrate the launch of Little Oaty Bakes from The Kelkin Natural Biscuit Company, we invite you and the whole family down to Rathbeggan Lakes, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath on Saturday the 19th of September.