Hi everyone. I hope I find you all well. Well spring has definitely sprung here in Ireland and it is so lovely to see longer days and finer weather. It’s especially great to witness the seasons change on my daily walks. Regular readers will know that walking has always been one of my favorite pastimes and at the moment I’m dreaming about some of my favorite walks in Ireland. I can’t wait until restrictions ease and we can travel countrywide once more. So in the meantime, I’m inviting you to join me on a virtual walking tour of Ireland province by province. First stop-Ulster!
Walking Around Ireland. Ulster
1. Tollymore Forest Park
We start in County Down at Tollymore Forest Park. There’s 1600 acres of woodland to explore here with easy to navigate walk ways throughout. If riverside is your thing then this place is perfect. The river Shimna rolls by gently throughout the park and can be crossed by 16 bridges, the oldest one dating back some 300 years.
Tollymore nestles at the foot of the stunning Mourne Mountains-another walkers paradise and a playground for serious hikers. I love the walks by the Silent Valley Reservoir. The still water is surrounded by the mountains on all sides and there are numerous looped walks to suit all abilities. So peaceful and tranquil.
2. Cavehill Country Park
We travel up to County Antrim now for some stunning views of Belfast city and beyond. More woodland walking trails lead us up to the summit of Cave Hill itself, taking its name from the 5 caves located in the cliffs. The imposing summit juts out from the hilltop and is locally known as Napoleon’s Nose. From afar, this Belfast landmark resembles a sleeping giant watching over the city and inspired Johnathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels ”. The views up there are stunning, taking in the city below, Belfast Lough and the magnificent Mountains of Mourne to the south which we just left behind.
3. Carrick-a Rede
Well we simply can’t leave the county without a walk along the famous and breathtaking Antrim Coast. The Carrick-a-Rede experience is not to be missed! From the car park the walk takes in magnificent cliff edge views that can stretch as far as the Scotland on a clear day. You then descend to the bridge itself which is not recommended for those with a fear of heights! The original bridge was constructed 350 years ago by a salmon fisherman. Suspended 100 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, the 66 foot long bridge takes you from the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick A Rede, and the old fisherman’s cottage. This is a short walk-just over 2 km to the island and back but if you’re feeling energetic you can head west towards the iconic Giant’s Causeway some 16km away.
We now head west across the province to the rugged beauty of County Donegal. Of the many wonderful walks on offer in this beautiful part of the country, this is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a looped walk from the beautiful village of Glencolmcille to Port and back to the village. It covers some 13 km so this is a proper hike! This stunning corner of south-west Donegal is truly breathtaking. Tradition, culture and the Irish language are preserved and cherished here. Port is a small hamlet of cottage ruins which were abandoned during the famine. The ocean views on this magical walk are truly spectacular.
5. Slieve League
So we stay in County Donegal for my final stop. No visit to Ulster would be complete without a trip to the highest sea cliffs in the country. More stunning scenery and ocean views await here. With the right weather you can enjoy stunning views of neighboring Leitrim, Sligo and even Mayo. Be warned-venturing beyond the main viewing point to One Man’s Pass is strictly for the experienced hiker!
Thanks for dropping by and do join me next week as we venture into Connaught for more virtual wanderings!
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Slán go fóill!