December has arrived and with it brings promise of christmas festivities, fun and games and of course the winter months.
As long as you get wrapped up warm and prepare well, winter can be a great time to take some nice country walks, taking in the cold but sunny winters days, perhaps even walking in the snow.
So where are the best winter walks in Ireland I hear you ask? Find out right here.
1. Lough Brays, Co Dublin/Wicklow
If you live in Dublin and fancy getting away from city life for a gorgeous winter walk then this is a great choice.
The drive along the bouncy Military Road via the Featherbeds is stunning before you’ve even embarked on the 8km walk.
The best route leads down and across one of the minor tributaries of the Glencree River before joining the track over the little narrow ridgeline towards the lower lake and the rock that splits the two corries known as Eagle’s Crag.
If the weather is bad then conditions can be harsh here so wrap up very warm and trust your instincts, if bad weather is coming in then don’t be tempted to push on, just come back another day.
A simple short 3km circuit of the lakes is as beautiful but obviously misses out on Eagle’s Crag with its views over the entire Glencree valley.
2. Lough Muskry Circuit, Co Tipperary – 13km
If you time your trip to the Galtees with a snow fall then the hills will look absolutely magical and very seasonal.
Park up near Rossadrehid and walk the trail to Lough Muskry which is a lovely little walk in its own right.
For a relatively easy 9km walk you can do a circuit of the lake and head back from the car but if you fancy a challenge then zig-zag up the snow-covered northern slopes of Greenane West.
It is best to keep to the west and get on the lower slopes of Galtybeg before turning east for Greenane West as this allows you to avoid the worst of the peat hags (which are a form of erosion that occurs at the sides of gullies that cut into the peat).
As you gain the lower slopes of Galtybeg turn east and then up hill and across a broad, boggy plateau to the summit of Greenane West.
Continue eastwards dropping slightly by the rocky tor of O'Loughlins castle after which you will need to go carefully through very wet bog before the final ascent to the summit trig of Greenane.
3. Seahan, Seefingan and Seefin Mountains, Co Dublin/Wicklow
Straddling the Dublin-Wicklow border, this hill walk visits several fascinating archaeological sites including five neolithic tombs.
The massive cairns reach up to 24m in diameter, and one features an entrance passage and collapsed roof, allowing you to peer inside.
The surrounding hillsides are rather boggy however, so winter is one of the best times to head out especially if you hit a really cold spell since the bog will be frozen.
The starting point for this walk is the Kilbride Rifle Range and its best to park in a lay-by at the southwestern corner of Kilbride Rifle Range
This is a hard walk with open mountainside and a 560m ascent so do only attempt this if you are a confident walker. The distance is around 10km but you’ll need to allow 3.5-4 hours depending on your walking speed.
This remote area has very few facilities so its important to bring a good supply of food and drinks.
4.Old Mill Loop, Co Laois
This Coillte circuit leads up a wooded valley and on to a mountain ridge on the northern side of the Slieve Blooms.
The first part of the trail leads along the banks of the River Barrow and past the triple tiers of Clamp Hole Waterfall to an old water mill.
From here you climb above the forest and follow a section of boardwalk across open hillside to a beautiful viewpoint along the Ridge of Capard.
Start your walk at the Glenbarrow car park and follow the signs along the trail which is of moderate difficulty with a 130m ascent. The route is 10km long and we’d recommend allowing 2.5-3.5 hours to complete this winter walk.
5. Cosan na Naomh, Co Kerry
Beginning from Ventry beach you’ll head along the ancient Cosan na Naomh.
The walk passes Gallarus Oratory and Kilmalkedar monastic site before concluding in the shadow of Mount Brandon.
As you cross Reenconnell Hill you will see the slit-like outline of Brandon Creek.
This walk starts at Ventry Beach/Ballybrack car park and is relatively easy with a very small ascent of 275m, however its a longer walk at 18kn which you’ll need to allow 4.5 hours for.