Ireland might be lagging behind its English neighbours when it comes to the number of long distance paths on offer but over the recent years some work has been put into rectifying this. While there are plenty of opportunities to experience long walks through the scenic countryside of Ireland only a small number of paths have been marked out. In Ireland the medium and long distance routes are often known as National Waymarked Trails and here we will take a look at some of our favourites.
The East Clare Way 172 km / 106 miles
This is a circular route through the beautiful Mid-West Region of Ireland. There are a few step ascents along The Way, especially when approaching Kilbane but overall this scenic route is rated as easy to moderate, despite the ascent of 10,000 feet. Due to the fairly low grade of the walk, it can be completed in about eight days. The East Claire Way takes walkers through a range of surroundings including an 18th century church in Tulla, the oak woodlands of Doon lake and the harbour and marina of Mountshannon. With this walk passing through so many highlights it is definitely one of the jewels in the crown of long distance paths in Ireland.
Slieve Bloom Way 84 km / 52 miles
The four day long Slieve Bloom Way is a real contrast of scenery that offers breath-taking views of Slieve Bloom Mountains and much more. Despite its mountainous backdrop and a total ascent of 1275 m over the whole of the route, there are no major climbs to tackle making this a pleasant and enjoyable Irish long distance path for mixed ability walkers. As this is a loop, the start and finish point is the car park in Glenbarrow and from there you will be walking through a wide mixture of terrains including the Ridge of Capard, on to wide open spaces followed by treks into forestry, and over rivers and into valleys. All of which make the Slieve Bloom Way a very enjoyable route.
Dingle Way 162 km / 100 miles
The Dingle Way is located in Country Kerry and follows the Dingle Peninsula. Taking eight days to complete, this loop begins with a route along the towpath of an old canal, before joining up with a mountain track of the Slieve Mish Mountains. The picturesque and historic Tralee Bay is descended upon after which the path takes in a mixture of beach and cliff paths as well as roads. Partly due to the 640 metres / 2,100 feet highest point of this walk, and that of any other National Waymarked Trails in Ireland the Dingle Way has been rated as strenuous.
Suck Valley Way 105 km / 65 miles
The Suck Valley Way is another loop and is estimated to take about five days to walk. Opening in 1997 the Suck Valley Way is rated as moderate difficulty and takes in many of the impressive and memorable sights of the Nine Friendly Villages and their surroundings.
Tipperary Heritage Way 56 km / 35 miles
This shorter walk should take just two days to complete so it perfect for those who are pushed for time or want to attempt a slightly less demanding long distance path in Ireland. Following the River Suir the Tipperary Heritage Way takes walkers through the Golden Vale of Ireland, the rich farmland once ploughed by Vikings and Normans. Keep an eye for wildlife along this route but don’t forget to allow time to explore the churches, abbeys and castles that litter this path.
Hopefully these five National Waymarked Trails will give you some inspiration for planning your next walking trip and will encourage you to consider making Ireland the destination for your next walking holiday.