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My Favourite Hikes In Ireland

May 1, 2020

I’m an absolute lover of all things nature, not only do my hikes help me physically with my fitness but they also do wonders for my mental health. There’s nothing that grounds me more than immersing myself in nature – the best reset button you could ask for! While we’re on lock-down and staying safe, I’ve been reflecting on some of my favourite hikes in Ireland and ones I would love to do again. I thought I’d share a few with you to give you either inspiration for when we’re free to roam again or just a bit of respite for a few minutes while you read.

Coumshingaun Lake, Co. Waterford

I visited Waterford properly for the first time last year and couldn’t finish the trip without doing the stunning 7.5km Coumshingaun Lake Loop. It’s a glacier lake nestled below sheer c-shaped mountainsides, that was more spectacular than I could have imagined. There’s a decent walk up to the lake itself if you’re not feeling a long hike but if you have the time and the energy, my god it won’t disappoint! We fluked it by arriving on a glorious sunny day which highlighted all of the tones on the hills and made the water glisten.

We walked up the left side of the lake – I huffed and puffed my way up but damn it I got there! The views were amazing from the offset but when we reached the top of the hill and couldn’t see an obvious way to the very top so we climbed up the rocks and over (probably not to be advised but we made it). After we got over the rocks we reached the sweet, sweet flat ground at the top and my god the view was absolutely spectacular! We took loads of breaks up the top for snackies and to take in our surroundings.

Sitting on a rock at the top, is still one of my favourite memories! So many times you hear about a hike and it just doesn’t live up to your expectations but the hike at Coumshingaun was simply not one of them. The walk down was a little tricky but we sat and dangled our feet in the lake when we got down – I only wish we had our togs!

It instantly became one of my favourite hikes in Ireland and I genuinely look forward to being able to do it again!

The Spinc, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

While we travel around a good bit trying out different hikes and places to go, The Spinc has to be my favourite hike close to home (Dublin). Situated in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, we can travel there with ease when we’re looking to get a decent walk in. We’ve done this 9km hike at all times of the year and in all kinds of weather (mild blizzard included) and I never tire of it.

I’m not sure which is the ‘right way’ to do the loop but we usually go down the left side of the lake and up the steps in the woods – this is where I test any changes in my fitness… Once at the top, you can follow the trail made of railway sleepers while you look down on the beautiful glacier lake. This trail can be quite busy in parts in comparison to Coumshingaun where we came across a handful of people in our whole time there.

One of my favourite times to do this hike is around Autumn as you can hear the deer calling during the rutting season. That said, if you manage a sunny summer day without too much of a crowd, it’s hard to beat.

The view from the Spinc route in

Cliffs Of Moher Cliff Walk, Co. Clare

If you follow my Instagram account you’ll know that there’s a special place in my heart for the Cliffs of Moher. When thinking of hikes in Ireland it might not be something that springs to mind, but the cliff walk from Liscannor to Doolin is a really nice ‘little’ jaunt. Stretching over 13km along the cliffs from the Hags Head at Liscannor to the beautiful town of Doolin. The walk offers so many different views of the cliffs but one key tip is don’t forget to look back too so you don’t miss any of the amazing views the walk has to offer.

Nearly every time I’ve been in Clare, we’ve done at least part of this walk. We’ve walked it in all weathers and it is breathtaking regardless of whether the sun is beaming down or it’s overcast. On cloudier days, the cliffs look so dramatic but when the sun is out and bouncing off the water below I could sit there for hours. I have to say my favourite time is at sunset, just see the picture below and you’ll understand.

There’s a shuttle bus that runs between Liscannor, The Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s Centre and Doolin so you can walk from one end to the other and get the shuttle back. We’ve done the full walk before, had a pint of Guinness in Gus O’Connor’s pub, and then shuttled our way back to Liscannor where we were staying at the time. Our regular walk there is from the Hags Head to the Visitor’s Centre and back, followed by some food in Lahinch or Liscannor.

The Cliffs Of Moher at sunset - Hikes In Ireland

Gleninchaquin Park, Co. Kerry

A few years back, we asked for recommendations for places worth visiting near Kenmare and Gleninchaquin Park was by far my favourite. In such beautiful surroundings, every route will be a treat. You are met with a spectacular waterfall as soon as you arrive and the park has six different routes to suit any level of fitness.

Our first trip was on a seriously humid day, but all the huffing and puffing (and giant hair) was worthwhile. Looking out across the valley and lakes while standing on top of a waterfall is just something else. The hike up and over the waterfall is 3.9km and will have you both on and off-trail, following little red markers dotted along the mountainside.

Sheep roam freely in the park – I may have got too close to one accidentally and saw a look in it’s eye that I never want to see again! Joe nearly fell over laughing at me running and squealing! So worth a warning, if you’re not into being up close to animals, this one might not be for you… I’ve had so much fun on this trail and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

The field before the waterfall in Gleninchaquin Park, Co. Kerry, dotted with sheep - Hikes In Ireland

Mullaghmore Mountain, Co. Clare

Of all of the hikes in Ireland that I’ve done, this one is the most unique in my opinion! Mullaghmore is a mountain in the middle of the Burren that looks like, what I can only describe as, a soft-serve ice cream. You set off across the moonscape of the Burren and follow little markers that stand out against the vast grey surroundings.

Again, with this one, there are a few different routes marked out but we followed the 7.5km one that would allow us to see as much as possible. There is a bit of scree and a little bit of climbing involved. It’s definitely not one for people with weak ankles unless in supportive boots as there are unsteady rocks throughout.

We hiked up and over the top of the mountain, offering views across the entire Burren from the summit. On our way back down you could see Fr.Ted’s house off in the distance. Queue, Niamh quoting Fr Ted and singing the theme song the whole way back to the car… I’m a great hiking partner – I swear!

I am starting my decent from Mullaghmore Mountin in The Burren - Hikes In Ireland

Have you tried any of these? I’m making a list for hikes in Ireland to try out when things settle down, please leave me any recommendations in the comments below.

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