The Best of Britain and Ireland Hiking
If you are a long-time reader you know that we love hiking and walking (hence the name Boots not Roots). When searching for some of the best places to hike we sometimes stumble across cool websites collating some unique hikes that we otherwise might not have heard of. The Sole Power blog powered by Michelin is an adventure lover’s dream come true. From epic hiking destinations to snowboarding tips to mountain biking routes this blog really does have a bit of content for everyone. When they reached out to us to collaborate we quickly jumped on board. This post was written by the stellar team over at Sole Power and I hope it inspires you to tackle some of the best trails that Ireland and Britain have to offer.
A Tale of Two Trails: Exploring Britain and Ireland
Mighty mountains, epic lakes, sun-kissed shores. It’s easy to get swept up in the allure of mainland Europe.
From the Scandinavias, to the Baltics and Mediterranean coastlines, it’s a traveller’s goldmine, and home to some of the finest hiking spots on the planet. But what about Britain and Ireland?
These two islands off the northwest coast of the continent have their own remarkable charm. Green, rugged, rambling countryside that never fails to give you moments you travel for and, of course, the unpredictable weather.
It all adds up to an unforgettable adventure.
Here we nosedive into a couple of our favorite regions in Britain and Ireland to take a closer look at two awesome hiking routes you need to know about…
County Clare, Ireland
The North and Republic of Ireland share a unique landmass. Famed for jagged coastlines, romantic architecture, rolling hills and intricate rock formations, the Emerald Isle is one of a kind.
Unreplicable, and almost mythical in places, Irish landscapes have acted as a main source of inspiration for some of the great works of literature.
And you can see why. They aren’t just pretty. They’re magnificent.
A region that’s stayed with us, and encapsulates everything that justifies our wild claims, is County Clare.
On the western side, Ireland’s seventh biggest county is framed by its massive Atlantic coastline (the Cliffs of Moher are a must-see if you’re ever in this neck of the woods). To the southeast runs the River Shannon, the country’s longest.
Come a little further inland, and you won’t be disappointed either. Clare boasts some exceptional geographical and geological anomalies, including the karst landscapes of The Burren — a region of limestone upland in the north with loose boundaries and a lot of character.
Rare flowers, unmistakable marshland and tumbling mountains make up the majority of the landscape of this region, making it the perfect location for long hikes and all-day explorations. You’ll never grow bored of it.
Ballinruan – Gorgnamearacaun Loop
One such long walk comes in the 9 mile loop from Ballinruan to Gortnamearacaun, and back again. Struck into the very heart of the county, this trail is accessible by car and is doable for pretty much anybody.
The route takes you through impressive forests and woodland, before chucking you out into what looks like the backdrop to a prehistoric miniseries.
Soggy featherbed bogland precedes meandering, maze-like bedrock formations, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. At its highest altitude the trail offers up 360° vistas of Clare’s equally stark and sensational countryside, where you’ll glimpse the Slieve Aughty Mountains raising their heads on the horizon.
The loop takes around 5 hours to complete on a clear day, but it really is worth the trek. Oh, and if you happen to get lucky enough to experience a sunset over The Burren while you’re there, you’re in for something special.
The Lake District, Britain
The Lake District finally secured UNESCO World Heritage site status in 2017. Rightly so too, as this famous region in the northwest of England is widely considered to be the country’s most striking.
The focus of relentless conservation over the years means it’s been left unspoiled, playing host to diverse British wildlife and pulling in travellers from around the world.
Fells, hills and mountains make up much of the landscape, surrounding the 16 main bodies of water that give the the District its name.
Countless trails make up a huge network of routes that cut through the Cumbrian countryside, so whether you’re into lazy summer walks, challenging climbs, or even fancy hiring a bike for the day, there’s nothing stopping you.
For us, the best thing about the Lakes is that you can go back again, and again, and again, and always find something new to do/somewhere new to explore. It’s a handsome part of the world that’s easy to fall for.
One go-to walk is the ascent up Mt. Helvellyn.
This isn’t the Lakes’ tallest mountain. But with its famous ridges (Striding Edge and Swirral edge) and plenty of stories to its name, the climb has become well-known and has several alternative routes to choose from.
By no means an easy feat, but still an achievable 8 mile all-round trip, the walk up Helvellyn promises a proper adventure.
If you’re a daredevil with hiking experience, the Striding Edge route is the one. Beware though, it’s the most precarious and unforgiving route of the lot, and takes a lot out of you on the way up.
For beginners, there are more marked routes, where parts are even lined with stone steps to get you there in one piece.
Reach the top and you’ll discover the hidden Red Tarn lake.
Helvellyn becomes a real challenge in winter, so we’d definitely recommend you get it pencilled in between March and October. Make the journey at the peak of summer if you can, the milder and drier the weather, the better.
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