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14 Guided Walks That Show Ireland at its Best

Guided Walks Ireland

Our tours offer some of the best guided walks in Ireland. We take you off the beaten path, and explore the best bits of Ireland. While we offer gentle walks on our Driftwood tours, the walks on  Vagabond tours do require a certain level of fitness. A good benchmark for this fitness is to ask yourself: Can I hike for 2.5 miles on undulated ground? If you feel that this is too much of a challenge, it’s probably best to go with Driftwood Tours.

Below we’ve detailed the walks offered on our tours. This includes the walks duration, type & difficulty.  If after reading this you still have a few questions, feel free to contact us: info@vagabond.ie

1. Slieve Gullion, Co Armagh

12 Day Ginat Irish Adevnture tour guests; Catherine and Monika climb Slieve Gullion

12 Day Giant Irish Adventure tour guests; Catherine and Monika climb Slieve Gullion

Duration: 1 hour

Type: Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult

Map of Slieve Gullion - Vagabond hike

Map of Slieve Gullion – Vagabond hike

Just north of the border of Northern Ireland you’ll find Slieve Gullion. A rough but well defined trail brings you to the summit. A historic mountain, you’ll find the highest surviving passage tomb here. From the summit cairn enjoy the views from this extinct volcano, with massive views over the Mourne mountain range. It also features in Irish mythology, most notably the legend of Fionn MacCumhaill.

Slieve Gullion - View from passage tomb

View from passage tomb on Slieve Gullion

The Legend of Fionn MacCumhaill

The mighty warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill, was tricked into swimming in the lake by a beautiful maiden. A spell had being placed on the lake and when he emerged he was a weak old man. The Fianna, Fionn’s army, forced the maiden (who was actually an old witch), who had placed a spell on the lake to restore Fionn to his youth. She obliged, and restored him to his usual self. However his hair remained white for the rest of his life.  To this day the legend survives that anyone who swims in the lake, their hair will turn white.

 

2. Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route, Co. Antrim

A windy day hiking along the Causeway Coastal Walk

A windy day hiking along the Causeway Coastal Walk

Duration: 1:30 – 2 hours

Type: Cliff Side Trail

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Giants Causeway - Vagabond walk

Giants Causeway walk

A coastal walk with undulations that offers views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the famous Giants Causeway below. Inland is an expanse of rich pasture land. A 40 minute walk brings you to the Shepherds’ Steps, where you drop down the 132 steps to the Giants Causeway. Explore the famous basalt columns.  A 30 minute walk will bring you back to the start. After this we make a 5 minute trip to the Bushmills Distillery, the perfect reward after your walk 🙂

Cheat: If you’re feeling lazy after reaching the Giants Causeway, there is a shuttle bus that costs £1 to get you up that last hill!

3. Cranny Falls, Co. Antrim

Cranny Falls

Cranny Falls

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Type: Low level trail

Difficulty: Easy

A perfect pre dinner stroll. We start this walk from the Londonderry Arms near Carnlough harbour, with its colourful fishing boats. Take the steps uphill to the ‘Harbour Lights’ building. You’ll cross a bridge over the main road and end up in a disused quarry with seats and viewing points. A short stroll with a slight incline brings you to Cranny Falls. Interpretation panels along the path illustrate the history. Wild flora lines the path. The moist area around Cranny Falls makes it ideal for plant life and insects. From here come back the way you came to a delicious meal at the Londonderry Arms.

4. Slieve League, Co. Donegal

Slieve League Cliffs

Slieve League Cliffs

Duration: 30 min – 1 hour

Type: Cliff Side Trail/ Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Sliabh Liag - Vagabond walk

Sliabh Liag – Vagabond walk

Known as the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe, we start this walk right up at the first viewing point. From here you can take in views of Donegal Bay with Sligo across to your left and the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean straight out. The walk is over a rough mountain trail that is well defined, though with occasional steep steps in places. Turning point is usually agreed by the guide before setting off. At the end of the hike be sure to enjoy an ice cream back in the car park.

 

5. Glenveagh National Park, Co. Donegal

Hike along side the lake in Glenveagh.

Hike along side the lake in Glenveagh.

Views of Glenveagh Castle and lake

Views of Glenveagh Castle and lake

Duration: 1 – 2 hours

Type: Mountain Trail Walk

Difficulty: Easy

Situated in one of our National Parks. We follow the well-defined rough low mountain trail. Take in views of the glacial lake surrounded by mountains on either side. At the end of the trail you’ll find Glenveagh Castle, with its fabulous gardens. Your guide will be able to fill you in on the fascinating history of the place.

 

6. Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo

View from Croagh Patrick of Clew Bay

View from Croagh Patrick of Clew Bay

Duration: 1–2 hours

Type: Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

Croagh Patrick - Vagabond walk

Croagh Patrick – Vagabond walk

The famous holy mountain. It is said every step taken a sin is forgiven. Maybe why most of our Vagabonds never need to go all 764 meters to the summit :). In truth we don’t go all the way to summit and most of the time the Vagabond groups either walk to the shrine or the saddle.

The path is over a rough eroded mountain path. Starting at the car park, you’ll pass a statue of St. Patrick on your way up. As you ascend take in panoramic views of Clew Bay with Clare Island and Achill Island rising up in the distance. Due to time constraints, we mostly make it half way to the saddle on this hike.

Walk up Croagh Patrick

Walk up Croagh Patrick on an eroded mountain path

7. Diamond Hill, Connemara National Park, Co. Galway

Walk up to Diamond Hill

Walk up to Diamond Hill

Duration: 30 minutes– 2.5 hours

Type: Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Diamond Hill - Vagabond walk

Diamond Hill – Vagabond walk

Connemara, famed for its rolling mountains, pristine lakes & ancient bogs – it is the Irish landscape at its most dramatic. One of the most spectacular walks is in Connemara National Park. There are shorter forest trails here, but a favourite is the upper Diamond Hill trail. A steady climb up to the ridge from the western slope, which culminates in a cairn at the 445m high summit.

From the summit look northeast towards Kylemore Abbey. On a clear day, Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connaught can be seen peeking through from the north. To the north-west the views of the Twelve Bens are simply stunning. The summit of Diamond Hill is also the perfect viewing point to take in the rugged coastline below, with views of the islands of Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark.

Climbing up Diamond Hill

Climbing up Diamond Hill

8. Mamean Walk – Connemara

Duration: 1.5 hours

Type: Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Vagabond walk of Mamean

Vagabond walk of Mamean

Part of the western way that runs through. The walk is along an even path uphill until it reaches a pass. Here you’ll find a chapel, a holy well, the 12 stations of the cross and (weather permitting) a gorgeous view of the Connemara landscape.

A site of great significance – 2,000 years ago it was a Celtic shrine. Later the site was claimed by the Christians and turned into a shrine dedicated to St Patrick.

It was also used by the two waring tribes; the O’Flaherty’s and Joyces for hundreds of years. Usually quite hostile to each other, the pass was seen as a safe place to trade goods between these two Galway tribes.

The walk up Mamean

The walk up Mamean

9 Kilkee Cliff Walk, Co. Clare

Kilkee cliffs

Kilkee cliffs

Duration: 45 minutes

Type: Cliff Side Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Walk where the locals walk with a very manageable cliff walk in Kilkee, Co. Clare.   As you fill your lungs with fresh south westerly air, witness the power of the Atlantic up close.  Experience the change of the landscape and see how 300 million years of erosion and nature has shaped the west coast of Ireland.   Believe it or not, many of our guests have commented that they prefer these to their higher and more famous neighbouring cousins, the Cliffs of Moher

10. Annascaul, Co. Kerry

Walk up Annascaul Valley

Walk up Annascaul Valley

Duration: 1 – 2 hours

Type: Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Annascaul - Vagabond walk

Annascaul – Vagabond walk

A great hike in sunshine or rain. Hike alongside gushing streams and waterfalls when it rains, or angle your camera to catch the reflecting sun as it forms multiple miniature rainbows with the mountain waters.   A fabulous example of an Irish glaciated valley, it is quite common for us Vagabonds (in all our Gore-Tex gear) to bump into local sheep farmers (in their Wellington boots and nylon shirts!) as they roam the hills checking on their mountain sheep.

Often your guide will reward you for accomplishing this hike by bringing you to the pub first owned by Ireland’s greatest polar explorer, Tom Crean, where you can indulge in a pint of the locally brewed beer named after the Annascaul native.

11. Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

Killarney lakes

Killarney lakes

Duration: 30 minutes – 1.30 hours

Type: Low level trail/ forest trail

Difficulty: Easy

Nestled at the foot of Ireland highest mountain range; the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, are the famous lakes of Killarney. Oak & Yew woodland cover the lower slopes of these impressive mountains. Waterfalls gush and the native red dear roam freely. A great stroll is around Muckross Lake, followed by exploring Muckross House & Gardens. Reward yourself with a coffee and quick snack in the café there.

 

12. Bray Head, Valentia Island Kerry, Co. Kerry

Bray Head - walk up to the tower

Bray Head – walk up to the tower

Duration: 1 – 2 hours

Type: Mountain Trail / Cliff Side Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Bray Head

Bray Head

For those not visiting the Skelligs, due to weather or whatever reason, the Bray Head walk offers a great alternative. A signature point along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, it’s the ideal place to enjoy views of the Skelligs, the Blasket Islands and the Dingle Peninsula.  Fulmars and gannets nest on the ledge below the cliff walk.

 

13. Bullig Bay Loop, Castletownbere, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork

Bullig Bay walk

Bullig Bay walk

Duration: 1 hour

Type: Sea Shore Trail / Forest Trail

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Bullig Bay - Vagabond walk

Bullig Bay – Vagabond walk

Starting off near the ruin of Dunboy castle – seat of the O’Sullivan Bear clan who ruled the Beara Peninsula for 600 years. The walk offers a pleasant mix of farmland, quiet country road & forest tracks. The trail is solid mostly, a bit muddy in parts. Enjoy views of the bay and Bear Island.

Dunboy castle ruin on the Bullig Bay walk

Dunboy castle ruin on the Bullig Bay walk

14. Gougane Barra Forest Trail, Co. Cork

A walk in the woods at Gougane Barra

A walk in the woods at Gougane Barra

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hours

Type: Forest Trail

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult (Easier walks also available)

Gougane Barra walk

Gougane Barra walk

Peaceful, tranquil, magical, mystical…these are just some of the superlatives visited on Lough Gougane Barra, in west Co. Cork.   The source of the River Lee, which flows through Ireland’s second city, Cork, and surrounded by a horseshoe of hills, we can but wonder at how life was for the monks of St. Finbarr in the centuries past.

Here we have a choice of two trails – a short but steep ascent to view a panorama of the valley, or a gentle stroll through the flat trails of the forest of mature trees.  Oh – there’s also an award winning toilet to visit!

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