Walking in Ireland
ABOVE: The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in
County Antrim, Northern Ireland. INSET BELOW: Walkers enjoy a pint at Bushes Bar
in Baltimore, County Cork, and humans meet a cloven-hoofed creature on the
Sheep's Head Peninsula.
What places come to
mind when you hear the phrase "walking holidays"? The Scottish Highlands?
England's Lake District? The Yorkshire Dales? Or perhaps Switzerland, with its
scenic valleys and spectacular Alps? All are worthy destinations, but Ireland
an equally attractive paradise for walkers--and one that's virtually
undiscovered, compared to most of its rivals. When you hike the coastal trails
and rural paths of Ireland, most of the people you'll encounter will be
Irish--and more often than not, you'll be greeted with a "Hello" or a "Hi,
there" as you descend from rolling green pastures to the local pub.
Make no mistake: Ireland may be not be a household name among
foreign walkers, but you'll find an extensive network of marked trails
throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland. Just as important, walking in
Ireland offers an incredible variety of sights and experiences, from Celtic
monuments to country villages to dramatic geological formations and colonies of
sea birds. And, unlike trails in some countries, Irish walking paths are seldom
paved or "sanitized"--rocks and cow patties are commonplace, and you may find
yourself sharing the right of way with sheep.
In this article, I'll describe the types of walking trips
available in Ireland (independent, escorted, or self-guided) and direct you to
useful Web sites. Also, see the "Walks in Northern Ireland" and "Walks in
Southwest Ireland" links in the navigation table below for illustrated articles
on places that I visited during a recent walking trip with Kathryn Hayes and
Paddy O'Mahony of Tourism Ireland.
Types of walking trips
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