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Green, lush and wild, Ireland is a hiker’s paradise. Walks in Ireland boast a veritable plethora of wonderful experiences: from jaw-dropping cliff top walks and magnificent ocean headlands, to a treasure trove of dramatic and varied mountain ranges.
With six unique national parks, a sinuous coastline and an extensive network of waymarked trails, it’s as though Ireland was designed to be the perfect hiking land. Its mountains come in all shapes and sizes. From the iconic and evocative rosy glow of Errigal’s quartzite ramparts, to the razor-sharp arêtes and deep gullies of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, even the most discerning hillwalkers extoll Ireland’s virtues.Discover the sensation of walking high above the tempestuous Atlantic. Some of the most spectacular hikes in Ireland are found on its 1,700 miles (2,800 km) of dramatic coast. And of course, you’re never too far from the famous hospitality of Ireland’s hostelries and a well-earned pint of Guinness.
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Ireland’s six national parks are wonderfully varied. If there’s one commonality, it’s fantastic hiking on waymarked trails. On Dublin’s doorstep, Wicklow Mountains National Park is a beautiful region of rounded granite peaks and scenic forested glens. In the north of the country is Glenveagh National Park where sumptuous sights abound, such as that of the golden eagle circling high or the classic visage of Lough Veagh’s castle standing proud by the picturesque lakeshore.
In the west, Connemara National Park’s raw splendour and wilderness comprises of forests, mountains and Ireland’s only fjord. Ballycroy National Park is wild and remote, containing one of the last active blanket bog systems in Western Europe. Superb forest hikes through internationally important yew and oak woodland await in Kilarney National Park. Meanwhile, Burren National Park’s glaciated karst landscape features vast limestone pavements and an incredible array of flora.
Hikes on Ireland’s coastline contain some staggering sights. The Dingle Peninsula is effortlessly dramatic; an ascent of Mount Brandon at 3,123 feet (952 m) rewards with astounding ocean views. On the south western edge of the Burren region are the famous Cliffs of Moher. Ravaged by the elements and towering above the waves, they are an awesome sight and make for a superb hiking objective.
Some of the best hiking trails in Ireland, and certainly the most adrenaline-inducing, are those found in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range. Characterised by deep gullies, sharp arêtes and dramatic corries, it offers sensational ridge walking for those of a strong constitution. At its heart stands Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohil at 3,408 feet (1,039 metres), one of Britain’s most prominent mountains.
Ireland’s climate is at the whim of the Atlantic, with generally warm, wet summers and cool, wet winters. During walks in Ireland it is not uncommon to experience four seasons in a day so, regardless of the forecast, a waterproof is always a good idea. Wild camping is legal, though there are areas which are out of bounds, such as in Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains, so check during the planning stage.
Like the Scottish Highlands, Ireland’s uplands are inhabited by ticks: tiny arachnids that love nothing more than clamping onto exposed flesh. Check yourself post-walk and if you have picked up one of these unwanted hitchhikers, remove carefully using tweezers or specialised tick twisters.
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