Scenic hiking trails in Ireland - www.freestyletraveling.com

6 most scenic hiking trails in Ireland.

In Destinations, Europe, Hiking trails in Ireland, Ireland by FreestyleLeave a Comment

Carrantoohill – County Kerry.

Devil’s Ladder – Very challenging but absolutely stunning expedition with highly rewarding views from the top. This is one of my favourite views over Ireland of the green valleys and two lakes of the shape of human lungs.

Devils Ladder route is the hardest and very challenging trail. The beginning of the route is  flat and it’s hard to imagine it turns into a steep rocky trail! Actually I’m not sure if it’s even possible to go down the same way! Everyone is taking the long way back down and so did we. No special equipment is needed to climb the mountain but be careful, the route has become more dangerous in recent years due to loose stones. There were few times when falling stones past really close to my head. Trekking shoes are essential. On the way to the top you pass two beautiful lakes, which look like human lungs from the top view.

Height: 1038 meters

Duration: 6-7 hours up and down.

For more information and trail photos see here: Hiking Carrantoohil

Glencoaghan Horshoe Loop.

Gosh! That was an adventure.. I’ll never forget this. I’d say it’s the toughest hiking trail in Ireland, challenging and exhausting! You definitely need to be prepared for a challenging adventure heading this caldera, especially if the weather is not on your side, which happens quite often for Glencoaghan. Plus good fitness level is required! Weather, as in all mountains, is unpredictable, so you should always be prepared for bad, cold and wet conditions. Glencoaghan Horseshoe peaks are usually covered with clouds, so the visibility might be very limited.

There are six peaks on the way. The walk should be done anticlockwise, as there are few steep rocky sections and it’s much easier to it this way. I have to say the beginning of the ‘trail’ is completely not visible. If not 5 hikers ahead of me, I would struggle to find the way up. And let’s be honest, most of the trail is just sheep tracks, the road is not maintained and for the most of the trail it’s your choice which way to follow.

Starting point: I left my car on a tiny road – farming area, closer to the start of the trail. When you drive main road N59 west direction this is the tiny road right toward Lutty town /google shows ‘Ten Bens Cottage’ there/. This is the closest road visible on a map to Derryclare – the first summit of Glencoaghan Horseshoe Loop.

Alternative starting point: Most people start at Benelttery Youth Hostel. However, this starting point is not convenient for the finish, as you need to walk back 5 km to reach your car from the Benelttery Youth Hostel. People say there’s always somebody who will give you a ride back but I was so exhausted after the trail that I couldn’t imagine having this hustle.

Duration: 9-12 hours /depending on weather conditions/.

Difficulty: Moderate, good fitness level is a must!

Drive around if you have time. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes on the island. Connemara National Park – very well know park, where you can take number of easier trekking routes. And

For more detailed information on this trail see: Hiking Glencoaghan Horseshoe Loop.

Slieve Donard.

This route is about 10 km climb to the highest peak in Northern Ireland, taking around five hours in total, with a stunning view of the surrounding area from the top. To access the Glen River route up Slieve Donard, you’ll need to travel into Newcastle and park in the Donard Park car park.

Height: 850 metres

Distance: 10 km

Start: convenient Donard car park.

Difficulty: Sleve Donard is not technically difficult. With a good fitness level you wouldn’t have a problem climbing it. It might get muddy but I went in a rainy weather and it was totally fine. Windy, cold and a little slippy. All easy enough to manage.

What to wear: obviously depending on a season but if you are taking a hike in colder months you should definitely bring warm clothes, the wind get stronger with the altitude and it can get really chilly. Always rain jacket! It’s small enough to hide in your backpack and probably best thing you can wear in wet conditions. Very good hiking boots – it’s a must. Hiking trails in Ireland can get really muddy and slippy. Take good food package, snacks – nuts or protein bar /or flapjack/.

I always carry compass, fully charged phone, whistle /easy to use in case of emergency in a fog or cloudy weather/ and a thermos with hot tea! Gosh I love hot tea, salvation for chilly weather.

The route

The trail is well defined and maintained. The path leads along a beautiful forest Glen River. At this stage it is a pleasure walk until you reach the iconic Mourne Wall at the saddle of the mountain. The trails takes you along though a steep hill along the walls straight to the top. The view from the top is magnificent. If you’re lucky with the weather you could see peaks of Scotland, Wales and even my dream island: Isle of Man, where famous deadly speed motorcycle races are taking place.

Howth cliff walk.

Need to walk the full loop to see small rocky beaches and incredible wildlife – dolphins and seals, hard to believe wild nature is so close to the city! It’s one of the best hiking trails in Ireland, located in Dublin city. You can’t miss one and only Howth port. This used to be a small fishing village while nowadays it’s a main toursit attraction for it’s unforgettable atmosphere and look. Howth peninusla is a great destination for a beautiful day walk the cliff path leading around the coastline. The violet path is around 10 km but you can call in to see the town. The view from Howth cliffes spreads across Dublin Bay and Wicklow Mountains. A start point is a fishing and yachting port, where you have a choice of plenty seafood restaurants. The queue for the most popular fish&chips takeaways can be enormous during weekends. But the fish burger or deep fried cod is really worth trying. Although I heard even it”s a fishing village all fish they have in all these take aways is frozen. It”s extraodinary! The beautiful scenery of the village and the coastal paths attracts lots of tourists whole year around. But this is just more than a fishing village. It’s so cosy and unique, there’s usually lots of seals swimming around and bobbing up with their cute noses. Last time while walking around the cliffs I even got to see dolphins. 

Howth

Wicklow Mountains.

Wicklow are most famous hiking destination in Ireland with number of trails. Lugnaquilla is the highest point of Wicklow Mountains – 925 metres and it’s a decent hike! But any route in Wicklow is stunning – Lought Tay and most famous Glendalough are fantastic, not challenging trails.

Wicklow Mountains

The Causeway Coast.

The north coast of the island is absolutely breathtaking. Last time I was there I started with Kinbane Castle – historic castle on a limestone headland. Don’t expect too much but it’s a nice spot for a short visit. Driving 2 km west direction there’s one of the most magnificent atractions I’ve ever seen – Carric- a rede-Rope Bridge. It’s an unforgettable walk 30 metres above the sea surface through the rope bridge, which links the mainland with the small island. It might be a little  scary experience if you are afraid of heights but keep focused on the breathtaking panoramic view over the wild landscape and you’ll shortly find yourself on the other side of the rope path.

Another 5 km west direction you’ll find famous Elephant Rock, which at the end is just a rock 😉

And finally, another 6 km west direction, there’s one of the most famous attrractions in island – Giant’s Causeway. It’s a 3 km walk from Windy Gap to the Giant’s Causeway. 

While you are in this area there’s on eplace you have to visit! The Dark Hedges along Bregagh Road in Northern Ireland – the stunning tree tunnel you saw in the Game of Thrones!!!

Scenic hiking trails in Ireland - www.freestyletraveling.com
Scenic hiking trails in Ireland - www.freestyletraveling.com
Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge - www.freestyletraveling.com
Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge - www.freestyletraveling.com
Scenic hiking trails in Ireland - www.freestyletraveling.com
Scenic hiking trails in Ireland - www.freestyletraveling.com
Scenic hiking trails in Ireland - www.freestyletraveling.com

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