Ireland is one of the most idyllic countries in the world; when the sun shines, there’s no better place to get out for some fresh air and exercise. However finding the motivation to get out and immerse yourself in it, can be challenging – life can get in the way. Well, there’s no time like the present as they say!
Here are some of the most scenic running routes in the country
The Greenway (Co. Waterford)
The Waterford Greenway boasts lush green surroundings, sweeping vistas, coastal views and a plethora of history and culture.
It’s one of the best ways to see Waterford in all its glory without being confined to a car. The 46km track stretches from Waterford city out to the stunning Dungarvan. It’s a great route because you can do it bit by bit; so every time you go running, you’ll see something new.
There are a number of disused train platforms, towering bridges and buildings that really give you a feel of the old Irish countryside. It’s a welcoming escape from the trappings of modern-day life.
Slieve League (Co. Donegal)
Slieve League is one of the most underrated sights in Ireland. The rocky cliffs located in Donegal are actually twice as high as the Cliffs of Moher, they just haven’t had the same amount of tourist exposure. This makes it a hidden gem and a great place to go for a jog or a walk. Jogging here will offer you spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Sligo Mountains, and Donegal Bay. It really is a natural masterpiece of deep browns, blues, and greens. Being the highest sea cliffs accessible in Europe, it’s one for the adventurous hearts.
Bray Head Loop Walk (Co. Kerry)
This 7km trail is the perfect place to build up to your 10K, while taking in all those stunning views at the same time.
The looped route will take you along the coastline of Valentia Island in West Kerry. It’s a steady track to Bray Tower, which will provide you with breath-taking views of the Skellig Islands and the Wild Atlantic Way.
Blackrock Castle Loop (Co. Cork)
If it’s challenging to get away from the city, this quaint and scenic path offers a little escape. One of Cork’s most popular walking and running routes, The 8km loop takes you by Blackrock Castle, the edge of Cork Harbour and the old railway line through the eastern city, the trek is great for escaping the traffic and enjoying the open air along Lough Mahon’s shore.
Graiguenamanagh to St. Mullins (Co. Kilkenny)
This route is peppered in Irish history, from Duiske Abbey to St. Mullin’s monastic site. You’ll also come across picturesque views of the River Barrow, Brandon Hill and Graiguenamanagh.
It’s a riverside path so make sure to wear a good pair of runners as it can sometimes be a little muddy. A stunning route with amazing views around every corner.
Howth Head (Co. Dublin)
Name-checked in “Epic Runs of the World”, the latest release from travel bible, Lonely Planet, Howth is a well-known place for Dubliners to escape all the hustle and bustle of the city. Run along the magical seaside town of Howth lets you take in views of the boats nearby, the sea views and the Howth lighthouse.
This run should be on the itinerary of anybody visiting or living in Dublin along with a big plate of seafood upon returning to Howth.
The Great South Wall
Located in Irishtown, a stone’s throw from the city centre, the Great South Wall is a great place to get away from it all after a long day of hard graft. Kicking off on Sandymount Strand, the route makes its way through a nature reserve before opening out onto the Great South Wall itself. Jutting right out into the sea, the wall offers panoramic views of the city, from Howth to Dun Laoghaire and even up towards the Dublin Mountains. A flat stretch of 4km from the Irishtown end of Sandymount Strand, this path leads to the vibrant red lighthouse that stands proudly at the end of the South Wall.
Phoenix Park (Dublin)
The largest walled park in any European capital city is a haven for Dublin runners and a heavenly place to spend an afternoon. The park’s perimeter trail is roughly seven miles long and home to the park’s herd of deer, along with several notable vistas.
There’s Áras an Uachtaráin (the home of the Irish President), Wellington Monument, Farmleigh House, and the towering Papal Cross, erected as a backdrop for the 1979 visit of Pope John Paul II, which more than a million people attended.
Divis & The Black Mountain (County Antrim)
Offering spectacular views over Belfast and beyond, this 4.2-mile loop trail takes you through a magnificent mosaic of grassland and heathland bog. You’ll switch from the boardwalk to gravel paths as you ascend toward the summit of Black Mountain, where the view of Northern Ireland makes every ounce of effort worthwhile.
If you have any energy left, the Divis Summit Trail will take you even higher. And the loop starts and ends at Divis Coffee Barn, so you’re covered whether you prefer your coffee pre-or post-run.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne (Co. Derry)
This underrated spot offers some of the most scenic running routes on the island. You’ll be treated to stunning cliff-edge views of Inishowen Peninsula, as well as the striking ruins of Downhill House. The views on this route are some of the most astonishing ones, a true hidden gem is equally exciting as some of this trail teeters close to the cliff’s edge, which would require you to exercise some caution on this route.
With the lockdown’s end not yet in sight, the best way to maintain a healthy mental and physical balance is to offer yourself some much needed mental stimulus. Now all that’s left to do now is get your running shoes on and choose a route that suits you best.