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Underrated beauty spots for each county - have you heard of them?

With the easing of restrictions on their way, we decided it was about to time to a complete roundup of the best beauty spots to walk in in each country. We're all about fab views, fresh air and stretching the legs, and these hidden gems tick all the boxes! Check out our picks below and let us know of you have anywhere to add for your county!

Carlow ‘Nine stones’

Full of seriously stunning views, this uphill hike in Carlow will take your breath away with the incredible vistas at the top. A great one for a clear, bright day, they say you can see eight different counties from the top!

Once you’re up to the viewing point, you can admire all the stunning Carlow countryside laid out before you!

Cavan ‘Sean Eamon Ruairi Trail’

The Sean Eamonn Ruairi Trail runs through a preserved landscape full of rolling fields, abandoned farm buildings and near the charming small village of Glangevlin. Its name comes from Sean Eamonn Ruairi, the last native Irish speaker in West Cavan and it’s rural setting changes with each season, meaning there’s something new to see every time you pass through.

Clare ‘Dromore Wood Loop’

Near Ennis, you’ll find the magnificent Dromore Woodland Nature Reserve,  brimming with every kind of flora and fauna you could hope to see. Signposts will show you the way around the trailhead for the  Dromore Wood Loop, which should take you roughly two hours to complete.

The 6km trail runs in a circle that you follow via the purple arrows. Featuring spectacular views of Dromore Lake, Lough Garr and the 17th Century O’Brien Castle, the forest is alive all around you, rounding off the visit with a quick stop in the visitor centre.

Hidden Gem - Traveller Reviews - Dromore Wood Nature Reserve - Tripadvisor

(Tripadvisor)

Cork ‘Foreshore Walk’

Though a short walk, there’s plenty to see on Foreshore walk. Stop off at historical landmarks like the ruined church and graveyard just outside of Schull to check out some local history. And be sure to make your way to some of the sheltered but rocky coves scattered along the walk.

An ideal spot for a summer meander, you can top your walk off with an ocean swim at ‘Dog’s Hole’, a popular summer swimming spot – just look out for the rocks!

Donegal ‘Fort Dunree’

The old defence fort tops the Inishowen peninsula, making it a huge draw on the Wild Atlantic Way.

With plenty of different walks available, this is a spot you can keep coming back to and see something different every time. A great day trip, be sire to bring your picnic with you for the many scattered picnic tables and shelters. Pick your walk based on its difficulty level, ranging from an easy walk full of stunning scenery to the more difficult hikes, which reward you with secret and secluded beaches – truly worth a visit.

Dublin ‘Rogerstown Estuary’

One of the best nature reserves Ireland has to offer, this place isn’t exactly off the beaten track, but is still well worth checking out, especially if you’re into bird watching. South of Rush, the marshlands can be a little bleak in the winter, but still very beautiful and full of flora and fauna. There’s a legend about the area, that if there was no water at the mouth of the estuary, people would be able to walk from Rush to Donabate in barely any time at all!

Galway ‘Lackavrea Forest’

This 9km walk is one for the experienced trekker! Some people advise leaving one car at the start and one car at the finish of this linear walk from the Hill of Doon viewpoint to Maam Cross. You will find yourself folded into the heart of Connemara here as you make your way through forest and bogland, down to a four-kilometre bridge trail that carries you across bog into Lackavrea Forest. Follow along with the winding Folore River and experience absolute peace and quiet. Right outside Oughterard Village, this place can get wet so come prepared!

Go Walk: Lackavrea Forest, Galway

(Irish Times)

Kerry ‘Cuilcagh Way’

Another one for the serious trekkers, this 7.4km mountain trail has a gravel track, exposed mountain path and boardwalk, making the entire trek a 6 hour roundtrip. With the ascent being 550m, this is the trail for the hikers who want to make up some serious ground.

Brimming with ancient Irish history from the Bronze age, you might even spot the burial mound on your journey, over 600m above sea level! That and the stunning views alone make this trail well worth it, for the vistas of the 13,000-year-old Lough Atona.

Kildare ‘Killinthomas Woods’

Not far from Rathangan Village, this relatively unknown hidden gem is under appreictaed on the Kildare walking scene. With 10km worth of signposted walks through a gorgeous forest, it is a dream to walk in springtime when the flowers are all blooming. You don’t have to do the full 10km though, if you don’t feel like it. The woods have trails that allow you to do shorter or longer walks, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Kilkenny ‘Tory Hill, Mullinavat’

This is really two walks in one as you can choose between the two loops that ring Tory Hill. Both are 4km long and both a seriously stunning. The Sliabh Greine Loop and Frochans loop both follow old forestry roads and woodland tracks in Carrickinane Woods that bring you up Tory hill for some fantastic views over the surrounding countryside.

Laois Oughaval Wood, Stradbally

Again, you can choose how long you want to walk for in Oughaval Wood, as it contains a number of waymarked trails of varying length. This one is great for families, as you can choose where to walk depending on your child’s age an ability. Just past Stradbally, you’re guaranteed beautiful countryside and sheltered walks.

Leitrim ‘The Miners Way and Historical Trail’

This network of routes actually spans Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim, but the section that passes through Leitrim is full of picturesque hills and valleys, showcasing all the county has to offer.

The old route that miners used to follow to go to work in the Arigna Mines, the Historical Trails traverses the Curlew, Bricklieve and Arigna Mountains and features many interesting landmarks, including Carrowkeel megalithic complex. At 118km long, you won’t do this is a day by any means, so you can come back and try pout each section and pick your favourites!

Miners Way & Historical Trail | Welcome to Leitrim

(Leitrim Tourism)

Limerick ‘Curraghchase Forest Park’

This fantastic amenity is a great spot for a family outing, covering 113 hectares of woodland, parkland and lakes, meaning there’s tons of local flora and fauna to see in the diverse landscape.

With lots of woodland trails marking the area, there’s a walk to suit everyone, and even has multi-access trails suitable for wheelchair users and family walkers. The Curragh and Glenisca trails are great for those looking for a demanding walking options and the Donore Wood Loop is just one of seven trails of varying lengths marked out in the woods including the easy Rabbit Island loop which will take a mere 30 minutes.

Longford ‘Corn Hill’

Cairn Hill or ‘Corn’ Hill ascends 276m and can be seen from all over the county. Longford’s highest peak offers a difficult walk with rewarding views at the top. With a mixed terrain of both stone path and dirt track, the walk is short but quite steep in places with rough stone, so be careful. 3km out and back, this is a great one to do on a day with visibility to take in the amazing sights form above of nine counties.

Louth ‘Salterstown’

A popular cycling route, this trail two miles south of the village of Annagassan runs along the coast offering gorgeous sea views. Cross the five-arched bridge across the river Glyde to come to the estuary, which is a feeding ground for lots of local wildlife and birds. Look out to see Slieve Gullion is across the bay while venturing for a walk across the pier.

Mayo ‘Brackloon Wood’

A seriously underrated spot, this 74 hectare forest features a gentle walk amongst towering and spectacular oak trees. The 4km loop is thoroughly manageable and allows you to walk alongside the Owenee River. Another spot full of history, it is said that the Bronze Age King Conor Mc Neasa travelled this pathway centuries ago.

Brackloon Woods | Croagh Patrick Knock Heritage trail

(Croagh Patrick Knock Heritage Trail)

Meath ‘Forest Walk Balrath Wood’

Just outside Ashbourne, Balrath Wood used to be part of the Somerville estate and retains many of its original trees. This 50 hectare woodland replanted species including oak, beech, ash and spruce and is protected by The Tree Council of Ireland. A place to learn about the trees around you and enjoy the wildlife, this is a great spot for a wander.

Monaghan ‘The Lough Major and the Coachman Walk’

Lough Major’s walk loops the 23-hectare lake, a very popular fishing spot. Scenic and full of panoramic views of nearby Ballybay, there is plenty to see along the way, including a well, plenty of wildlife and a peace bridge. Taking a mere fifty minutes, the walk is gentle and full of things to see.

Offaly ‘Knockbarron Wood Eco Walk’

Near the picturesque village of Kinnitty, Knockbarron Wood isan immersive and beautiful nature experience. The 5km walk takes under 2 hours and has plenty of stops along the way for you leisure.

Described as an ecological paradise, May is supposed to be the best time to visit when all the wildlife and flowers are out and about.

Roscommon ‘Knockranny Wood Loop’

A short but lovely walk, the Knockranny loop is a woodland walk that passes by the well-known megalith, Knockranny court tomb. Featuring stunning views across Lough Meelagh from the trailhead, you can visit the blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan’s final resting place in Kilronan Graveyard, Keadue.

Sligo ‘Queen Maeve Trail – Knocknarea’

This relatively recently opened trail is a tough one, taking walkers up the northern slopes of Knocknarea, past Megalithic and Bronze Age remains, on through Coillte forests along a raised boardwalk or ‘bog bridge’ to the summit. Looking out on the Coolera peninsula, at the summit, you’ll find the great cairn of Queen Maeve as well as abandoned and derelict stone cottages. Knocknarea Mountain (320m) dominates the skyline of Sligo, but the trek is worth it for the incredible sights along the way.

Queen Maeve Trail – Knocknarea – Sligo Walks

(Sligo Walks)

Tipperary ‘Cragg Walk’

Located in Grange Village, Co Tipperary this route has three different walks of varying lengths. With lots of picnic benches scattered along the routes, this is a great spot for a walk and lunch, as there are ton of gorgeous views all around the place. Spot the Wellington Monument on your journey and try out the viewing platform that has been constructed complete with telescope.

Waterford ‘Hike up to Coumshingaun Lough’

This Comeragh Mountains walk is stunning and often steep. Not easy by any accounts, but apparently the views make it worth it! A longer walk, it will take a few hours to compete and is one for more serious hikers.

Westmeath ‘St. Feichin's Way, Fore’

A 3km looped walk, St. Feichin's Way winds around the historical and stunning Fore village An early Christian settlement, it was converted by the Anglo-Normans into a walled town with an important Benedictine priory. It continues to be occupied today and is famous throughout the land as “The Place of Seven Wonders”. The Abbey coffee shop makes it a great place to stop for lunch too!

Wexford ‘Duncannon Fort, Duncannon’

The beach beside Duncannon Fort isn’t exactly a long walk, but the incredible views of the fort and the charming village above the beach are all well worth exploring. An impressive presentation of a bastioned fortress perched on the side of the stunning Hook Peninsula, this part of Ireland’s Ancient East is one of its loveliest. This historic structure has gathered countless intriguing and awe inspiring stories over its 450 year history and holds one of the best vantage points to take in the beautiful Waterford Estuary from.

Wicklow ‘Tomnafinnoge Woods’

Almost equal distant between the villages of Shillelagh and Tinahely, Tomnafinoge Wood is a Special Area of Conservation. This ancient woodland will bring you back in time. Giant Oak trees dominate but you will encounter plenty more trees and plants on these walks.

Tomnafinnoge Woods offer three different walks of varying distance. Most popular is the River Walk of 2km (4km both ways). Shorter walks are the Oak Walk, 3.2km, and the Hazel walk, only 1.3km. Both of these walks go around in a loop.

Tomnafinnoge Woods - Tinahely.ie

(Tinahely.ie)

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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