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