With wild interiors, spectacular coastlines, dramatic, brooding mountains and not to mention peat bogs a-plenty, it is no surprise that Ireland is full of both keen walkers and some fantastic walking routes.
With plenty of charming towns and cities there are lots of urban walks to explore in Ireland that are pushchair friendly, with Dublin and its waterways and green spaces not least amongst these.
A short distance from Dublin and the beautiful beaches ad coastal scenery around Malahide and Portrane provide easy promenades for pushchairs with plenty of sand adventures ad fish and chips to break up a walk. For those after a more challenging walking trip, the Wicklow Mountains to Dublin’s south provide a perfect playground, albeit a bleak and wild one.
For true mountain lovers, a trip to Ireland’s South-West is a must, with the majestic mountains of Kerry and Cork rising up impossibly from the sea and offering spell-binding views and rugged terrain, not to mention some of the most spectacularly beaches – beautiful, wild and desolate all in equal measure. Here you can take older kids and teens to bag their first peak or two or just explore hillsides and beaches with the most magnificent backdrop with younger ones.
Clare offers wanders through ancient history and along the exhilarating Cliffs of Moher whilst the wild back-waters of Galway see a relapse into wild, mountainous terrain and natural beauty. Travel further north and more wild terrain awaits you and lots of opportunities to walk away it all!
It’s worth taking time to break a journey in Ireland’s land-bound counties too – charming walks through gentle hills, forest, by loughs and nature reserves can be found within easy reach of most major roads and merit exploration in their own right.
Finding walks in Ireland can be tricky at first. Each county is responsible for keeping open public rights of way and there are a lot of lovely walks along great footpaths run locally that are hard to track down online or through national directories. The country is covered by OS maps with a 1:50000 scale but only tracks (private or public) and the main national walking trails are marked on them, unlike every footpath and bridleway back in the UK. This can make planning suitable walking routes for younger families more of a challenge, particularly in wilder areas where the terrain is tough. There are a number of good walking websites though that offer ideas of walks and it is worth popping into your local tourist office as there are often details of trails in the local area available there. If all else fails, they will also have details of local walking guides.
Below you can find some helpful websites to plan your walking adventures in Ireland. There are also some tried and tested Irish Baby Routes below this post.
- Irish Trails: Provides details of the 43 National Waymarked Trails through Ireland as well as a handy walk search facility allowing you to search by distance, location and difficulty.
- Discover Ireland: The walking section of the Discover Ireland site has quite a lot of walking routes listed although it is not very easy to sort through these by length, location and difficulty. Worth a look for ideas though.
- Sli na Slainte: These are a series of walks for health all over Ireland. Fairly short in length and often based around main centres, they are good for short wanders to explore an area.
- Coillte Forest Parks: this website gives details of outdoor activities in parks across Ireland. There is a handy map where you can select walking trails and find a route near your area. Also good for other recreational activities.
- Ireland Walking: walking website by outdoor writer Kieron Gribbon covering loads of useful information on where and how to walk in Ireland. Also has a map with suggested walking books for each county and a great Twitter community to inspire you and set you in the right direction for the right walks for you.
- Walking Routes: This Irish site for walkers to add their own trails provides inspiration for most areas of Ireland. You can sort walks by minimum and maximum distances and location.