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10 of our favourite spring walks in Ireland

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Now that daylight hours are longer and the weather is picking up it’s time to put on a good pair of boots and start exploring more of our country.

Ireland is full of beautiful coastal routes, mountains, hills and forests enjoyed by thousands of locals and tourists each year.  There’s routes in every county to suit all ages, abilities and timescales.

Not only is walking a great way to discover more of Ireland but it’s also one of the best forms of exercise you can do – it helps burn the extra calories and has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.

We were hard pressed to pick just ten when Ireland has so much to offer but we’ve managed to narrow it down to our top ten spring walks.

  1. The Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary

The Glen of Aherlow has trails for every ability with low-lying loops which can take anything from 30 mins to 4 hours. The more adventurous can take on the challenge of the Galtees. Lough Curra and Lake Muskry are popular destinations for those looking to explore the mountains and reach stunning view points.

The scenery is beautiful, surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. You’ll find picnic tables throughout woodland trails where you can stop for a bite to eat while you enjoy the view.  The Glen of Aherlow is perfect for a weekend break with loads of accommodation options, including caravan parks, B&Bs and hotels.

glen-of-aherlow

Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Croagh Patrick, Mayo

Croagh Patrick is known as Ireland’s Holy Mountain; it is said that Saint Patrick fasted for 40 days at the summit.  On Reek Sunday, the last Sunday of July around 25,000 pilgrims climb the mountain each year, many of them barefoot, a tradition that has existed for more than 5,000 years.

The climb to the summit takes around two and half hours.  It can be very challenging as it is steep, slippy and very rocky towards the top.  If you make it to the peak you will be rewarded to panoramic views of what looks like the whole of Ireland. When you’re done reward yourself with tea and cake from the coffee shop at the base of the mountain.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Errigal Mountain, Donegal

Donegal is known for its beautiful landscapes and rugged terrain. Mount Errigal the highest in the county is one of Ireland’s most popular and recognisable mountains despite its remote location. It has a magical quality of appearing to change shape depending where you view it from.

At 751 metres Errigal is topped with twin summits.  The two peaks are among the smallest in Ireland, separated by the One Man’s Pass which as the name suggests is so narrow it can only be crossed one at a time.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. The Slieve Blooms, Laois & Offaly

The Slieve Blooms make for some easy family walking with a choice of several looped tracks and the opportunity to easily reach a summit. Arderin is the highest point in the hills at just 527m meaning you can reach the top in less than an hour. From the top of Arderin on a clear day you can see the highest points in all four Irish provinces, as far as Slieve Donard in Ulster.

The trail is picturesque and unspoilt. It is one of the least explored in Ireland giving you a chance to get away from it all, enjoy nature and unwind to the sound of birds. Dotted around the mountains are traditional little villages where you can stop for a break and have a chat with the locals.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Coumshingaun Loop Walk, Waterford

The 7.5 loop walk is moderate and will take you around 4 hours to complete.  The time is well worth it given the spectacular views you will enjoy throughout.  The route surrounds a natural amphitheatre of the Coumshingaun Corrie Lake and the surrounding mountains.

Coumshingaun is Comeragh’s most famous landmark and one of the finest examples of a corrie or coum in Europe.  Corries were formed by glacier movement during the ice age and make for a breath-taking sight.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. The Wicklow Way

This extensive hike is one for those seeking a camping expedition in Ireland. The Wicklow Way takes around seven days to hike and stretches 83 miles through the Wicklow mountains to the suburbs of Dublin City. It includes challenging summits up to 3,200m.

You can of course take a more leisurely stroll and complete a small section of the trail if you are staying in the area for a short while. Wicklow is known as the ‘Garden of Ireland’, its lush valleys and spectacular mountains will not disappoint.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Diamond Hill, Connemara, Galway

Connemara National Park covers 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. The Diamond Hill is a popular walk for visitors to the park taking just 2 to 3 hours to complete and covering a distance of 4.5 miles.

There is plenty to do at the park with a children’s playground, picnic tables and tea rooms.  Ponies are very much a part of the Connemara countryside. The area is also steeped in history with 4,000 year old megalithic court tombs to explore.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. The Sheeps Head Way, County Cork

The coastal trail from Bantry to the tip of the peninsula is 55 miles but you can try a variety of shorter loop walks that take just 2-3 hours. The terrain is varied with open grassland, woodland and country roads.  The Sheeps Head Way is next to the Gulf Stream giving it some of the mildest climates in Ireland. The narrowness of the peninsula means you are never far away from stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the way you can explore the remains of an old copper mine, a Napoleonic signal tower, old churches and a scenic lighthouse.  If you are lucky you might even spot some dolphins or whales off the western tip.

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Photo Credit: Instagram

  1. The Burren, County Clare

The Burren is a challenging hike that takes around 5 days to complete the full 71 mile length. If you are looking for more of a day trip adventure the region also offers a number of scenic shorter walks.

The Burren is one of Ireland’s highlights with a vast area of terraced limestone hills that drops abruptly into the Atlantic at the Cliff of Moher.  The unique landscape of silvery limestone, wildflowers and caves is definitely worth taking some time to explore.  You’ll also come across Neolithic remains and ancient Christian churches.

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Photo credit: Instagram

  1. The Howth Cliff Walk, Dublin

The fishing village of Howth is just a short trip away from the Centre of Dublin. This easy 5 mile walk is perfect if you want a break from the buzz of the city. The cliff walk passes the Bally Lighthouse and will allow you to enjoy some beautiful views of secluded beaches. You’ll also find a cosy pub at the summit where you can take your time to relax and enjoy refreshments until you are ready to return to the busy city.

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Photo credit: Instagram

Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurance, pension and investment needs.

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Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurance, pension and investment needs.

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