Taking yourself off for a long-distance walk is good for the soul. Immersing yourself in the Irish countryside, breathing in that fresh air and getting your blood pumping on a long hike through Ireland’s incredible and diverse landscape will awaken your spirit.
The Kerry Way
Kerry is famed for it’s rural beauty and the Kerry Way is no exception, boasting stunning views across emerald green fields and out on to the wild Atlantic ocean.
This 215 km route starts and finishes in the vibrant town of Killarney where you could spend some time before or after your hike.
The trek through the Iveragh Peninsula can take roughly 7-10 days to complete and there are camping or hotel options along the way.
The Kerry Way is one of Ireland's longest, signposted walking trails and is also one of the most popular.
Whilst Kerry is renowned for having the highest mountains in Ireland, the Kerry Way avoids the higher peaks and opts for the lower reaches of mountain ridges.
The trail is intended to quickly progress through a variety of different landscapes and experiences, giving the walker a wider appreciation for the county.
Because of the sheer length of this journey it is really for the more experinced walkers who are in good physical condition.
The Burren Way
The Barony of the Burren forms the northern part of County Clare, overlooking Galway Bay and the Atlantic Ocean
The Burren is well known for its unusual landscape - 130 square kilometres of spectacular terraced carboniferous limestone hills and valleys which make for a really interesting long-distance hike.
Winding its way from Lahinch to Corrofin, the karst landscape of bedrock makes for a fantastic contrast to the Atlantic ocean below.
Added to the beauty of this walk are hundreds of miles of rambling stone field walls and a unique density of well-preserved monuments and buildings from the Neolithic to the early Christian period.
This 114km walk will will take around five days to complete on quiet tarmac roads, forest paths, and up a few of the sweat-inducing climbs.
The Ulster Way
At a whopping 1000km in length this is a long route to complete in full, but if you want to really explore Northern Ireland then there are few better ways to do it than by foot.
The route takes in the Mourne Mountains, the Antrim coast and the Sperrin Mountains and takes around three weeks to complete.This is a real challenge of a hike and is not for the faint-hearted with many climbs and descents along the way.
The Ulster Way was originally planned to be a walking link between the ring of Youth Hostels which used to encircle Northern Ireland but became one of the longest way-marked trails in Britain and Ireland.
The walk uses mainly already established Waymarked Ways which are predominantly off road, passing through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Link Sections of the route are not waymarked and are mainly on public roads, some of which can be very busy which is why walkers are encouraged to use public transport along these sections so they can make best use of their time on the more attractive Quality Sections.
Some of the highlights of this hike include the Lecale coastline near Ardglass Co Down, Tynan area Co Armagh, Slieve Beagh Co Monaghan, the forests and mountain loughs of Fermanagh, the Glenelly Valley and Sperrin Mountains Co Tyrone, Benbradagh and Binevenagh Mountains Co Londonderry and the Glens of Antrim.
The Atlantic Way
Many have driven this route, a few have cycled it, but not many will have walked the entire distance of The beautiful and wild Atlantic Way.
The increasingly popular tourist trail on the west coast of Ireland passes through nine counties and three provinces, stretching from Co Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale, Co Cork.
There are 157 discovery points, 1,000 attractions and more than 2,500 activities along this 2500mk route.
Most people will pick a section of The Atlantic Way to walk and with six different regions comprising the entirety of the route, walkers can choose from a range of terrains including bogland, forest and foothills, mountains, beaches and coastal cliffs.
Some of the more popular walks on the Wild Atlantic Way include the Baltimore Heritage Trail in County Cork and the ancient Pilgrims Path at Sliabh Liag in County Donegal.
Ireland’s longest off road trail, the Great Western Greenway, traverses Ireland’s Atlantic coast in County Mayo, between Westport town and Achill Island, passing through the villages of Newport and Mulranny.
As you can see there is a lot of choice on this route and you can walk as much or as little as you’d like, so prior preparation is key here. Make sure you’ve researched where you’d like to start and end and know how long you have to walk, to make sure that you get to see as much of the beautiful Atlantic Way as possible in the time that you have.