It’s spring, and with the longer days and (slightly) warmer weather, it’s time to blow the cobwebs away with an outdoors holiday in Ireland. And even if your most strenuous
recent exercise was using the TV remote, there is an activity break out there for all levels of fitness – and none. From leisurely walks to high-level hikes, there is a trip to suit you. Book a hotel in Ireland to make the most of this spectacular country of ours, and, if you want to incorporate several destinations in one holiday, rent a car and see it all.
North Leitrim Glens 19th Walking Festival, 30 & 31 March, Leitrim
This two-day walking festival is ideal for all fitness levels, as it includes both a long and a short hill walk each day in the delightful north Leitrim glens, as well as a guided Sunday stroll suitable for everyone. The long hill walks take up to seven hours, so you will need to be pretty fit, whereas the shorter walks are led at a slower pace, and the Sunday walk is a three-hour ramble taking in local archaeology and wildlife. Walks cost €15 (one day), €25 (two days), or €10 for the Sunday ramble.
Bray Trailblazer, 6th April, Wicklow
Take in the wonderful Wicklow coastline with lungfuls of Irish Sea air on the Bray Trail Blazer trail running event. You start at the far end of Greystones beach and head back along the shore line to the Cliff, before following the train lines back to the band stand just off Bray Promenade. The 10km course covers all kinds of ground, from sand, paved paths, and dirt tracks will see you make your way back to Bray from Greystones via the cliff trail.
Wexford Half-Marathon & 10km, Sunday 21 April
Make a weekend of it in Wexford Town and attempt one of Ireland’s flattest road-running events. The Wexford Half Marathon & 10km take place in beautiful coastal surroundings on a road that is wonderfully free of hills, so you can try for a personal best if that is your thing. Or you could just walk the course with hundreds of others, and enjoy the route. The half-marathon passes through the gardens of Johnstown Castle, a tourist magnet in Wexford.
Connemara Adventure Challenge, 11th May, County Galway
Adventure racing is really starting to take off in Ireland, and the Connemara Adventure Challenge is an ideal introduction to the sport for those of average fitness. It’s about the half the distance of the more famous Gaelforce West, and it is open to racers of all standards. Taking place on Saturday, 11 May, in the stunning setting of Connemara, it covers 31 km of amazing countryside in a combination of trail/mountain running, kayaking, and cycling. And there’s a great after party to celebrate your achievement.
Dungloe Walking Weekend, May Bank Holiday Weekend, Donegal
A walking festival for everyone, the Dungloe Walking Weekend is set in the scenic bliss of Ireland’s northwest. Stroll quiet country roads, scale Errigal Mountain, or wander around Arranmore Island. Walks range from moderate to strenuous and open up the opportunity to meet new people in beautiful surroundings.
Sneem JFK 50 Mile Walk, 24th to 26th May, Kerry
Make sure you have good walking shoes before you attempt this – walking 50 miles (80km) with blisters is not fun! The challenge is to cover the distance in the beautiful setting of this Ring of Kerry town and its surroundings without running or jogging – although, after 50 miles, running is probably the last thing you’ll feel like doing! Complete the distance in 20 hours or less to receive a commemorative pin and a certificate. (Even if you don’t finish, you’ll get a cert stating your time and how far you got.
Glen of Aherlow Walking Festival, 31st May to 03 June, Tipperary
Follow veterans of the Galtee Walking Club, Tipperary as they lead you into the upper reaches of the Galtee Mountains or around the lower-lying lakes on a choice of three walks to suit all fitness levels. The three-day festival takes in ten guided walks over the June Bank Holiday weekend, with registration taking place at Moroney’s Bar in Lisvarrinane Village. And it’s not all hard work, either: Enjoy music and entertainment in the Coach Road Pub on Saturday night with a courtesy bus from surrounding accommodation.