Ireland’s Best Lake and Lough Walks

Lakes have been helping people for as long as there have been lakes and people

The still, calming bodies of water have an immensely therapeutic effect on everyone who beholds them, which might be why lakes have inspired endless reams of poetry and mythology over the centuries.

In Ireland, your lake-related needs will be met. In many cases, an ice age carved out plenty of spaces for water to gather, and our weather did the rest. These lakes have served as recreation spots, where fishing, swimming and even high-octane water sports take place.

Most of all, lakes are enjoyed quietly, by sightseers, walkers and hikers who appreciate their natural serenity and reflective beauty.

Here are some of our favourite lake and lough walks.

Glendalough Wicklow

One of the most famous parts of the country, Glendalough is a favourite for those who want to take in the wildlife, medieval history and beautiful lakes.

Gelndalough, as you might have heard, is the site of St Kevin’s Way, a challenging pilgrimage that some take to this day.

Technically, this is two lakes and there are numerous ways to enjoy this historic, scenic spot: you can walk around the lakes via the Miner’s Road Walk or Green Road Walk, or you can ascend the 600–step boarded path to take in the splendour of the upper lake from above.

The maps you will need for this walk are:

Lough Gill, Sligo

An inspiration to W.B. Yeats, who wrote of the place “where peace comes dropping slow”, Lough Gill’s name is derived from “Loch Gile”, meaning “bright white lake”.

It’s a lovely, fitting name, as this lake’s water has a knack for reflecting the heavens above.

There are plenty of places to enjoy a stroll around Lough Gill, especially if you like forestry (and who doesn’t?). Woodlands surrounding the lake include Slish Wood, Dooney Rock, and Hazelwood.

Lough Gill is also a popular place for birdwatching, especially among fans of the busy kingfisher.

The maps you will need for this walk are:

Caragh Lake, Kerry

If this lake could be described in one word, it would be “photogenic”. The humble, silent Caragh Lake is likely unaware of its many appearances on Instagram!

This charming lake, deep and wide, is enjoyed both as a calm walking spot and a site for rowing and fishing. On the right day, it captures the reflection of the sky, the hills and trees, creating a breath-taking canvas of blues and greens.

Since it sits in Killarney National Park, a Special Area of Conservation, Caragh Lake is also a well-maintained area for wildlife.

It’s a picturesque spot, sometimes referred to as one of the most beautiful areas in Kerry. That’s saying something.

The maps you will need for this walk are:

Coumshingaun Lough, Waterford

A textbook example of a corrie lake (formed by a glacier), Coumshingaun Lough can be tricky to get to (prepare to hike!) but is worth the effort.

It’s almost entirely surrounded by cliffs, making the pear-shaped lake look like the floor of a natural amphitheatre. The water is dark and 60 metres deep in parts, frequently stirring thanks to the wind captured in the surrounding wall of rock.

Coumshingaun Lough makes for a challenging hike, so is not for everyone. However, the dramatic views, the clean air and the feeling of utter seclusion make it all worthwhile.

The map you will need for this walk is:

Lough Hyne, Cork

Lough Hyne stands out from many other lakes (including ones on this list) by virtue of being a marine lake. So, its saltwater and small size means that it contains an interesting and unique variety of flora and fauna.

South of Skibbereen, this lake is surrounded by thick forest, lush greenery, beautiful wildflowers and a sweeping ocean view.

There’s an accessible, natural trail up Knockomagh Hill that will give you a gorgeous view of the lake, land and sea.

The maps you will need for this walk are:

We Love Lakes!

The right lake is a perfect walking spot, whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or something more challenging. Anyone living in Ireland is lucky to be so close to these natural wonders.

Please remember, though, that not every lake is suitable for swimming, so don’t take a dip unless it’s certified safe.

And don’t forget, OSI maps will help you find where you want to go, from the most famous bodies of water to the smallest loughs.

**Images are for illustrative purposes and do not necessarily represent the area in question.**

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