In case you haven’t heard, walking holidays are the way forward.
There’s no better way to awaken your senses, reinvigorate yourself and discover the beauty of this lovely little island than by hiking through its hidden corners. It’s pure nourishment for your body and mind.
There are just so many excellent walks and hikes to be enjoyed in Ireland – the Glencolmcille Tower Loop, the Bothy Loop and the Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop, to name but a few – and we want to help you enjoy them.
But walking trips ain’t for the dilettantes, folks. If you rock up to an unforgiving trail without the proper supplies, you may be in for a rude awakening.
Don’t ruin your break with a lack of preparation, instead just follow our tips for making your next walking trip easier, safer and, ultimately, a whole lot more enjoyable.
Always carry at least one litre of water, no matter how short your hike is, and drink often. This will keep you from fatiguing too quickly.
Pack the right kind of food
You’ll be burning a lot of calories during the hike, so carry plenty of energy-rich food like dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and the like.
Since this is Ireland, you should always expect rain. But it doesn’t have to spoil your walking trip. Just wear waterproof outer clothing and your trip won’t be ruined by getting soaked to the bone. And while you’re at it, make sure the rest of your supplies remain dry by placing a bin liner within your backpack or placing a rain cover over your bag… or do both, if you’re really worried about it.
For added protection from rain
Pro tip: fold a towel into a thin strip and wrap it around your neck like a scarf under your rain jacket, this will prevent the water dripping down your neck and onto your clothes underneath.
Know the hours of darkness
You absolutely do not want to be stuck out in the open after dark, so check the trail’s distance in advance and allow yourself all the time you need to finish your hike before nightfall.
Footwear is crucial
Comfort is key, because over long distances or even shorter distances, a mild irritation for your feet can turn into pure agony. For socks, wool or synthetic socks are what you want, but never wear cotton when you’re in the wilderness – it retains moisture. In terms of hiking boots, go for the lightest pair you can get away with that also provide ankle support. Also, be sure to gradually break in your boots at home to avoid discomfort.
Always carry extra
Put your mind at ease by preparing for the worst. Make sure you’ve got plenty of the essentials, like food, water and socks.
They call it the wild for a reason, so you can’t necessarily depend on your smartphone to save you out there. Be sure you’re carrying an emergency pack: a whistle, a torch with spare batteries, a map and compass (that you know how to use), a lighter, rope, a first aid kit (including blister plasters), sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent.
Share your hiking plan
Make sure someone you trust back in civilisation knows exactly where you are and let them know when to expect you back. Somebody needs to be able to call in the cavalry should you find yourself in trouble.
Leave no trace
You seek out the wild to escape the clutter and messiness of urban life, so please don’t leave any of that mess behind. Respect the locals, respect your fellow hikers, but most importantly, respect the environment.
For spectacular sights, invigorating sensations and unforgettable experiences, make your next short break a walking break on the Wild Atlantic Way, in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands or in Ireland’s Ancient East.