5 Reasons why Ireland is one of the best Countries for Hillwalkers

May 20, 2020 by
POSTED BY May 20, 2020

Ireland is without a doubt a brilliant destination for tourists. It’s a favoured destination of Americans, of course, and the French and Germans adore the place too. But did you know there’s more than just Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse, and the Blarney Stone to see and do here? We have arguably one of the most picturesque coastlines in the world, and it’s covered in majestic mountains and tranquil lakes too. What’s more, our whole country and especially our Atlantic seashore are dotted with some of Europe’s finest walking and hiking trails, such as the Kerry Way and the Wicklow Mountains.

Today we’ve summarised five simple reasons why Ireland has some of the nicest, safest and most accessible hiking trails in the world.

Never too cold

Although the North Atlantic seems quite inhospitable, and it sure can be at times, it provides a welcome gift in the form of much-need insulation. Ireland’s proximity to the north pole shocked me when I first moved here. Its average latitude of just over 53 degrees north makes it as far up as Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, and even further north than countries like Mongolia! The ocean waters surrounding this tiny island envelop us like a warm blanket. When combined with the air currents bringing us warmer temperatures from the south, it means we never get anywhere as cold as Canada and Mongolia, providing near year-round temperatures for hiking and hillwalking. The temperature on the west coast of Ireland rarely drops below freezing even in the depths of winter.

Hiker in the Burren. – Photo credit www.nicholasgrundy.com

Never too hot

Conversely to the last point, Ireland never gets too hot either. Cities like Moscow which sit at about 55 degrees north, similar to Northern Ireland, suffer through frigid winters only to then suffer through swelteringly hot and humid summers. However, thanks once again to the Atlantic we never see such unbearable conditions, meaning it’ll never be too hot to go for a long hike. Another fact that shocked me upon moving here is that the hottest day on record is 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit), and that occurred on one day and one day only in recorded history! The second and third hottest days were 32 and 31 respectively, which is less than 90 Fahrenheit. Remember to pack your sunscreen though, as the long, sunny days in the West of Ireland can still pack a powerful punch. And unlike hiking in Australia or the Amazon, you don’t need tonnes of water to stay hydrated. You still need to drink water of course! Even on a cooler day in Ireland, the soft sea breeze will still wick away moisture, meaning you’ll need to replenish your body’s supplies as you hike.

West of Ireland/Connemara
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Never too far from civilisation

One of the best parts about hiking in Ireland is that even though our trails leave you with a brilliant feeling of solitude in nature, you’re never too remote either. As such, if you end up in need of replacement boots, laces, equipment, food, water, etc., you’re never too far from the nearest town or village. You’re also never too likely to completely lose your phone signal, you’re never far from help, and it’s pretty difficult to become well and truly lost.

Horse and trap on the Aran Islands. – Photo credit www.nicholasgrundy.com

Never too dangerous

Apart from Atlantic storms, Ireland seldom sees any earthquakes, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Even major flooding is a surprising rarity here considering Ireland is a bit on the rainier side. Furthermore, outside of North Dublin and Drogheda, we have a rather low crime rate. Ireland is also a politically stable and militarily neutral country full of friendly locals. For the most part Ireland’s economy is quite stable these days, and any fluctuations would hardly ever contribute to any increase in crime or hassles for visitors here.

Never too polluted

Renowned for our fresh air and clean environment, our local and international hikers have developed a culture of ‘taking only photographs and leaving only footprints.’ While the rest of the world is suffering more and more from environmental pollution, the Emerald Isle is for the most part still a glistening jewel in the North Atlantic. I recently read reports of smog from East and Southeast Asia being carried the entire way to Seattle by the northern Pacific jet streams, while many rivers, oceans and lakes across the globe are brimming with more and more plastic junk. Fortunately for Ireland, the winds arriving across the Atlantic are some of the cleanest in the world, and the waters surrounding us are remarkably clean and clear.

All in all, a very safe and accessible country for beginners to break into hiking, yet still offering plenty of scenic and challenging walks for those with more experience too.

See you on the trails!

Wicklow Mountains
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