Irish Hill Walking Forum

I am just putting this out there to see what kind of feedback I get.  I am considering adding a walking forum to a website I run about walking in Ireland.  I would love any feedback, good idea, rubbish, no real need for it, go ahead and comment at the bottom.

I have spent the summer in the Czech Republic, as this is where my other half is from, but we are heading back to Ireland in the next few weeks – time really does disappear as one gets on a bit.  It has been a great summer and I have been cycling, mountain bike, and walking a fair bit – also a walking holiday in the middle on the Camino Le Puy route.  It is a good life.

Anyway I have been looking at all the great walking routes in Ireland and thinking that there are so many that I have not yet walked.  So I am laying out a plan to get out walking this winter and map all the routes using my GPS and have decent maps and elevations for each. My Garmin GPS is my latest toy and I must say I do love it.  Using it adds a bit more interest for me looking back after the walk.  I can see things like – yes, that was bloody hard and it wasn’t just me not feeling great today – like the second day on the Le Puy route where we started at 1,100 meters then up to 1,300 down to 600 and back up to 1,300 – that was a tough day and it took 11 hours of walking.  And I call that fun; my 18 year old self would be disgusted at how I have turned out.

So back to the forum idea; it would be a place to share walks, maps, etc.  How to get to places and what other things there are to see and do in the areas – I like heading off for weekends at a time so it is nice to have B&B recommendations, same for places to eat.  A big list of loop walks would be very handy also – as I said, any thoughts leave below.

And one last thing, any got any good suggestions for a good map for a Garmin for Ireland?  Thanks.


A Wet Long Weekend in Connemara

We both need a good long holiday.  We haven’t really taken the time for one this year and one of the consequences is that we are getting a bit tired a lot of the time.  So my bright idea last week was to get away for the long weekend to Connemara.

We have been to Connemara before and there is something about us and that side of the country – it rains – it rains a good deal.  The last time we went we rented a cottage for the weekend and spent most of the weekend reading as the rain didn’t stop at all.

The time before was nowhere as bad – but we still had more than our fair share.

So going on previous experiences you think I would be expecting rain and be prepared for it.  Well prepared for it I am, as I walk in Ireland quite a bit and the raingear is always with me – but I had it in my head that I would be out walking for two of the three days.  It didn’t happen.

One day of a bit of walking and another touring round the area where they only speak Irish and only have the road sings in Irish – it is one very depressing place.  Firstly I though it a bit rude not having the road signs in English – you can travel all round this country and the road signs are in Irish and English – but this one little bit takes away the language that most of the country speaks and almost 100% of the tourists.

It is a barren desolate place, the area stretches from near Westport to just about Galway and it is just a ribbon of land between the mountains and the sea, the kind of place that God forgot to make fertile.  The only thing that can survive is sheep and a few cows, and this is where the middle classes send their kids to brush up on their Irish and be bored to tears.

It was good to get back to Dublin.


Walking Holidays in Ireland

Mourne MountainsThis is an unashamed plug for a friend who runs a walking holidays company.  Macs Adventures arrange hill walking tour and cycling holidays all over Europe.  Being a bit of a hill walker myself this gets my interest.

However I first thought when looking at walking holidays – Why would I pay for someone to arrange this for me?  I am the eternal student, in my head anyway, and I think about the cost of things.  But on second thoughts I discovered that I am not so right in this.

For about the same price of doing it all myself, phoning dozens of Bed and Breakfasts and trying to get a reasonable price, having one that is the right distance from the last one – so that I get a good long walk during the day, and having a B&B that caters to hill walkers – well I begin to see the sense in having someone else do all this work for me.

For example, if you are walking the West Highland Way in Scotland, you have to sit down and work out how far you intend to walk each day and if there is a B&B at the point you want to stop.  The other point is the rucksack.  Why carry you own all day, when included in the holiday you can have someone ferry it to your next stop and all you have to carry is a reasonably light daypack. Read more ›


Mourne Mountains Hostel

Getting a bit tired of paying way over the odds for weekends cottage rentals we decided to try a hostel last weekend.  I managed to find Cnocnafeola a hostel in the Mourne Mountains on the internet.  I wonder how we used to find places pre-internet, for so many things now I along with millions of others automatically turn on the computer to research any number of things.

I had forgotten the pleasures of staying in hostels.  One of the great things is chatting to other people.  One of the awful things about hostels is also other people, but more of that later.  I always find it a bit difficult when I go walking somewhere I haven’t been before.  It can be hard to know the best routes, on Friday evening I got talking with some guys who knew the area well and I got some great advice for starting points for some loops.  The other great thing about this hostel was the maps and routes in every room.  They have a folder with ten of the most walked routes in the area with full descriptions and maps, many others could take note of this it was a great help.

mournhostel

One of the first things to note is how much hostels have changed over the last 15 – 20 years.   No more cleaning the hostel yourself in the morning.  I used to always find this part a bit strange – you would pay whatever it was to stay over night, but on top of that everyone would have to clean part of the hostel in the morning, ah the 1980′s. Read more ›


Killiney Beach Dublin

Killiney beach is a great place for a walk and easy to get to.  To get there by car head south on the N11 until the first roundabout, take the first left and follow the signs.  From the centre of Dublin it takes about 30/40 minutes.

There is a free car park at the beach right opposite the dart station.  There are no shops nearby, so nowhere to buy ice cream, sandwiches, or water, etc – though sometimes during the summer there is an ice cream van parked on the beach or nearby, but not something you can count on.

The easiest way to get there is by Dart, the local train service.  There is a dart station right at the beach. I have no idea re the bus.

The beach is mostly pebbles, though there is a little sandy area just where the tunnel enters the beach area.  It is not somewhere for surfing, swimming is fine and it is mostly just swimmers that you will encounter in the water here.  It is a great place for a walk, you can walk all the way to Bray and then get the train back along the coast again, either to the car park to collect your car or right back into Dublin again.

I must have walked up and down Killiney beach at least one hundred times, my other half is from a land locked country and every weekend she loves to see the sea.  You can also view up and see the big houses above the beach that have some of the best views in Ireland.  One of these house is the home of Bono of U2 fame.

This area is outside of the main Dublin Bay area and hence the water looks much cleaner.  Sometime you can see seals, however they keep mostly to the islands just off Killney.  If you really want to see the seals the best way is by going on the Sea Safari – a motor boat that gives tours across the Bay of Dublin.


Why Not Holiday In Ireland

Downings, which is located in North West Donegal, Ireland is one of the most scenic areas on the Atlantic Ocean. And, the facilities on offer for a complete and relaxing family holiday are second to none. One proviso though, the weather. Sometimes the wind gets up but for the serious windsurfer, this is a boost.

The area around Downings, including Carrigart, is very much tourist oriented with golden sandy beaches, breathtaking scenery, four golf courses, equestrian center, angling facilities (with various charter boats), sub aqua facilities, indoor leisure center (with swimming pool, gym and sauna) open to the public. The local GAA Club has its own gym, which is also open to the public and they hold various training camps during the summer months.

So, to give the parents a break, you can sign up for a week’s activities for the children who will improve their football skills and also learn the Irish language. The Downings beach hosts an annual windsurfing and raft racing competition each August and is an ideal and safe beach for swimmers. Downings also hosts a festival over the August bank holiday with many attractions especially for the younger generation. The Rosapenna Hotel complex includes two quality golf courses and in August each year, you can partake in the open week with prizes galore on offer. In the Rosgoill peninsula, there are four hotels, three independent restaurants and a number of lounge bars and public houses. There are approximately 300 holiday homes in the immediate area. These have been built over a period extending back several years, but there is presently a substantial short fall of holiday properties available. This has been brought about by the seven-year cap imposed on the construction of holiday homes within residential areas. The effect of this limit is that the proportion of holiday homes to conventional residences cannot exceed a maximum of twenty percent. Read more ›


Shopping in Dublin

Henry Street is located just off O’Connell Street (Dublin’s main thoroughfare) right in the heart of the city. If heading north on O’Connell Street, just take a left at ‘The Spire’ and you’re there!

Henry Street is definitely the place to go if you want to shop ’til you drop, as it’s literally overflowing with shops and it’s pedestrianised too. It’s home to the Jervis Centre, which is the largest shopping centre in Dublin city centre, with every kind of shop located under the one roof. Another popular shopping centre on Henry Street is the Ilac Centre, which is home to shops like Roches Stores, Dunnes and Argos.

A visit to Arnotts is a must when shopping in Henry Street. It opened in 1843 so it’s one of the oldest in the city! It’s a particulary good place to stop off if you’re looking for clothing, houseware and cosmetics.

Other notable shops on Henry Street include Penny’s, Marks & Spencers, Debenhams, HMV and some high street stores like Oasis, A-Wear, Sasha, Zara and River Island.

While on Henry Street it’s really worth taking a stroll down Moore Street – a colourful and lively market area which has become an attraction in itself!

If you want Dublin hotels in the Henry Street area we suggest you check into the nearby Abbey Hotel, the Ripley Court Hotel, the Gresham Hotel, the Royal Dublin Hotel, Cassidy’s Hotel and Lynam’s Hotel.

Grafton Street is the other shopping destination in Dublin and is located on the south side of the River Liffey stretching from College Green up to St. Stephen’s Green. It’s also a pedestrainised street lined with high street shops, shoe shops, jewelry shops and the odd souvenir shop.

Grafton Street is home to the fashionable Brown Thomas store where you can buy designer gear, so if you’re looking for Gucci, Prada or Chanel head here.

Other shops to be found on this street include Vero Moda, Next, A-Wear, Oasis and some designer stores like Pia Bang, Karen Millen, Ted Baker, Laura Ashley and Reiss.

At the top of Grafton Street, you’ll see the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which has over 100 shops under one roof. It’s a definite stop-off if you’re a visitor to Dublin as it’s got some very good gift and souvenir shops.

When the shopping is done, take the time to soak up the atmosphere on the street, as Grafton Street is renowned for its street entertainment. It was here, in fact, that many famous musicians started their career like Glen Hansard and Damien Rice who both started off as buskers on this very street!

If you want to be close to Grafton Street then choose Dublin hotels like Buswells Hotel, the Central Hotel, O Callaghan Mont Clare Hotel, Premier Suites Dublin Stephen’s Hall, the Grafton Capital Hotel, the Westbury Hotel, Brooks Hotel, Drury Court Hotel or the Conrad Hotel.

There are also some really good shopping centres outside Dublin city. If you’re going shopping at the Liffey Valley Centre we suggest you stay at the nearby Clarion Hotel Dublin Liffey Valley, for the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre stay at the Ballymum Plaza, or the Park Plaza Tyrrelstown. For The Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght, stay nearby at the Abberley Court Hotel or if you’re heading for the Dundrum Shopping Centre, stay at the Stillorgan Park Hotel.