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Tourism Ireland has recently unveiled a Walking Loop System,
with 14 circular routes ranging from leisurely hour-long nature
strolls to challenging all-day treks along coastal paths,
farmlands, bogs, mountains and moorlands. Ideal for travelers who
want to experience the Irish countryside up close, with its rolling
green hills, blackface sheep, blooming wildflowers and rugged
bluffs, the walks are an easy drive to the towns and villages where
visitors are likely to stay, such as Dublin, Killarney Town,
Limerick, Cork and Shannon.
Popular trails are well-marked, well-trod and easy to follow
like the nine-mile Muckross Lake Loop at Killarney National Park,
which passes Muckross Estate (a popular attraction), rings around
the lake through ancient forests and meanders along sandy coves and
gently ascends to a waterfall.
However, other routes, such as the Lighthouse Loops on Bere
Island (accessible by ferry) and Sheeps Head Peninsula are more
remote and rugged, with scant signage and cliff-top trails that
disappear in the boggy ground. For walkers who plan to get well off
the beaten path, it’s a good idea to contact the local tourism
office to hire a guide who won’t get lost even if the fog rolls in.
As a bonus, experienced guides can share local lore, point out
flora and fauna, as well as stone monuments and remnants of castles
that are thousands of years old.
New routes are continually being added to the Walking Loop
System. Detailed maps and trail descriptions of the walks are
available on the Ireland Let’s Walk Web site www.walking.ireland.ie/. The new “Walking Ireland”
brochure can be ordered (free) through the Web site.
Five- and seven-day walking tours in the west of Ireland and on
Croagh Patrick Walking Holidays:
Guided walks in the west of Ireland.www.walkingguideireland.com
Easy-to-moderate hiking/walking, biking and cultural small-group
adventures in Kerry, Clare, Connemara, Aran Islands and
Killarney Guided Walks:
Two-hour, half- and full-day walks in Killarney National Park.www.killarneyguidedwalks.com
Guided walks on Sheeps Head Peninsula.www.seamountfarm.com/walking_tours