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Walking in Ireland

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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.

photoWhat 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 is 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.

photoMake 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.

Next page: Types of walking trips

Walking in Ireland - General Information:
Types of walking trips
Resources and Web links

Walks in Northern Ireland:
Giant's Causeway
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Rathlin Island
Guide: Chris Murphy

Walks in Southwest Ireland:
Roaringwater Bay
Sherkin Island
Heir Island
Cape Clear Island
Sheep's Head Way
Glengarriff Nature Reserve
Guides: SouthWestWalks Ireland

Related articles:
Molly Gallivan's Cottage and Traditional Farm
Bunratty Manor Hotel (Shannon Airport)