Tuesday 20 February 2018

Get your boots on! Five fab family-friendly walks in Ireland


Looking toward Bray Head and Little Sugar Loaf from the summit of Carrickgollogan.
Looking toward Bray Head and Little Sugar Loaf from the summit of Carrickgollogan.
Slieve Croob
Family walks around Dublin - A walking guide
Knocknarea, Sligo. Photo: Alison Crummy/Fáilte Ireland
Geokaun view, Valentia Island. Photo: Raymond Fogarty/Fáilte Ireland
Ireland's Eye, as viewed from Howth. Photo: Fáilte Ireland

Adrian Hendroff

Adrian Hendroff, author of 'Family Walks around Dublin' (collinspress.ie), picks five of his favourite family-friendly walks.

1. Slieve Croob, Co Down

A buggy-friendly climb!

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Slieve Croob

A well-surfaced road from Dree Hill provides easy access to this 534m summit. The road uphill passes open, russet-brown moorland and the gurgling source of the River Lagan, whose journey culminates in the sea at Belfast. Sheep wander the green country-side and meadow pipits, red kites and kestrels roam the skies. Ignore summit masts, but enjoy unsurpassed views of the rolling Dromara hills and the coastline from Warrenpoint to Antrim, Lough Neagh and the Mourne Mountains. Allocate time to pick wild, dark-blue bilberries in midsummer and make sure to visit the nearby Legananny Dolmen.

Length: 4km Ascent: 190m

Time: 2–2.5 hours

2. Ireland’s Eye, Co Dublin

This fun-filled family adventure begins with a memorable boat trip from Howth’s West Pier (irelandseyeferries.com).

Ireland's Eye, as viewed from Howth. Photo: Fáilte Ireland

Spot harbour porpoises and minke whales in the waters before landing on the island’s northwest corner. Venture eastward from the Martello Tower to the 69m summit for vistas of Howth, Lambay Island and the Portmarnock coastline. Continue eastward to reach the rocky pinnacle of The Stack, where seabirds such as gulls, guillemots, gannets and cormorants perch. You’ll spot grey seals at its southern end as well as the ruins of an eighth-century chapel. My four-year-old nephew and his two sisters loved it!

Length: 2.5km Ascent: 90m

Time: 2–3 hours

3. Carrickgollogan, Co Dublin

This is a glorious gem of a walk just a stone’s throw from Dublin city centre.

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Family walks around Dublin - A walking guide

Follow orange trail markers clockwise from the Carrickgollogan Forest Recreation Area car park. The mixed woodland is home to badgers, rabbits and red squirrels. Kids will be fascinated by the tall, tapered tower of the Lead Mines Chimney. Broad forest tracks make it all easy and buggy-friendly, except for the short ascent of Carrickgollogan. All-round views include Howth, Dublin Bay, Killiney Hill, Bray Head, the Sugar Loaf and the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains.

Length: 2.5km Ascent: 75m

Time: 1–1.5 hours

4. Knocknarea, Co Sligo

The rocky burial mound of Connacht’s Queen Maeve awaits at the 327m summit.

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Knocknarea, Sligo. Photo: Alison Crummy/Fáilte Ireland


Nearly 6,000 years old, the 55m-diameter mound overlooks all of Sligo and Ballysadare Bay. The view extends from mighty Ben Bulben around to the Ox Mountains. Walk in the footsteps of Irish mountaineering legend the late Joss Lynam, who climbed Knocknarea at the age of six. Access is easy from the car park at Grange North following a straightforward path to the summit and back.

Length: 3km Ascent: 207m

Time: 1.5–2 hours

5. Geokaun, Co Kerry

A trail circumnavigates Geokaun’s 266m summit on Valentia Island from Carraig na Circe car park.

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Geokaun view, Valentia Island. Photo: Raymond Fogarty/Fáilte Ireland

The trail’s seaward end is buggy-friendly, or use the mountain road as an alternative. The panorama down to Doulus Bay is stunning and includes the sweep of the Kerry mountains from Cnoc na dTobar to Beentee. Admire also the long, silver-blue arm of Portmagee Channel and catch a glimpse of the jagged twin-rocks of Star Wars’ famous Skellig Islands out to sea. Other attractions for the kids include a tetrapod trackway, the Fogher Cliffs and educational info panels.

Length: 2km Ascent: 50m

Time: 1–1.5 hours

Adrian Hendroff is the author of several walking guides by The Collins Press (collinspress.ie). ‘Family Walks Around Dublin’ will be published in May.

Walking on the Web


The place to go for info on Ireland’s official trails. It’s not just for serious walks — there are plenty of kid/buggy-friendly routes too.


A handy spot for walks of all lengths, this site has clear, thought-out instructions and directions, including GPS points for trailheads.


As well as route info, there’s plenty of advice for walkers on this site from outdoor author Kieron Gribbon.

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