Four Irish Walks for Foodies
We take a look at Ireland’s top rated restaurants and the walks that can be enjoyed nearby to help build up an appetite.
The Restaurant: An Port Mór
Hidden down a lane off the busy Bridge Street in Westport, Co. Mayo, An Port Mór is one of the West’s worst kept culinary secrets. Favourites such as top class steak, fish and surf and turf awaits those who are lucky enough to get a table in the busy restaurant. Anyone brave enough to try something new that’s bound to tickle the senses should try the curious starter: Warm salad of Irish pot-roasted pig cheeks Kelly’s black pudding on an apple & vanilla sauce. You certainly don’t get that everyday.
The Walk: Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo
Just over nine kilometres from the centre of Westport town, Croagh Patrick is one of the most popular pilgrim climbs in Ireland.
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Type: Up and back
Distance: 6.8 km (max elevation 764 metres)
Duration: 3 hr 30 mins
Start location: Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Murrisk Co. Mayo
End location: Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Murrisk Co. Mayo
Parking: Croagh Patrick Car Park off the R335, Murrisk Co. Mayo
Co-ordinates: 53.778380 -9.639852
The climb is divided into three distinct stages, each of which offers a completely different walking experience but equally spectacular views of Clew Bay.
Starting from the car park, the first stage starts as a walk up a country road until you reach a number of steps before the trail leads up across trickling streams, greenery and rocks. The ascent becomes steeper and more challenging at the end of this stage as the ground changes to a grey gravel surface. Stage 1 ends when climbers reach ‘The Shelf’, the plateau in the climb after the initial ascent. This is a perfect place for a rest.
Stage 2 is a relatively flat walk along The Shelf which has a slight dip before leading towards the base of the summit. This is the easiest part of the climb; the trail is clear to see on the grey gravel ground and there are little or no obstacles before one reaches the base of the summit.
Stage 3 starts at the base of the mountain’s summit. Scaling the summit involves scaling a large steep mound made up almost entirely of loose shale stones and rocks. Extreme caution is required here. The best approach to reach the summit is to make a number of wide ‘zig-zag’ routes across the shale, being cautious of other climbers and the loose surface.
The descent is much quicker than the ascent, but be careful of navigating down from the summit and down through the wet rocks among the streams in Stage 1.
The trail up Croagh Patrick is easy to follow but the climb becomes much harder when congested with people. To avoid this, many people choose to start the climb early in the morning. Stage 3 can be very difficult in wet and windy weather. In cases of extreme weather conditions, the route has been officially closed by local authorities.
The Restaurant: Mullberry Garden
One of the great thing about this D4 Hotspot is that you can easily daydream about the menu while you’re still on your walk. Just head over to the Mullberry Garden’s Facebook Page and try not to drool over what can only be described as ‘food porn’. It’s certainly great motivation to put a bit of pace into your walk. Perhaps in homage to days past, the restaurant sets up a brand new menu every week, meaning it works hard to retain and delight returning customers.
The Walk: The Hellfire Club
Being so close to Wicklow and the supberb local walks that the county contains, it can be easy to forget that Dublin has some walks of its own. A quick march up to the Hellfire Club on Montpelier Hill and back is a great way to burn off some calories in the run up to dinner.
The Hellfire Club refers to the derelict structure at the top of hill, that was an active lodge in the 18th centutry. Many legends of occult practices and debauchary surround the gutted building., few of which have many facts to back up such tales. However, it makes for great walking conversation!
Distance: 2.5 km
Duration: 45 mins
Start location: Timbertrove Café Kilakee House, Kilakee Road, Dublin 16
End location: Timbertrove Café Kilakee House, Kilakee Road, Dublin 16
Parking: Timbertrove Café Kilakee House, Kilakee Road, Dublin 16
Co-ordinates: 53.253790 -6.321440
Follow the road up the hill from Rathfarnham Golf Club until you reach the Timbertrove Café. Once parked, walk up the road, heading south for 200 metres and then take the first right, joining the trail into the woods.
Follow the well trodden path as it curves back into the clearing. Follow this for 500 metres and then follow the zig-zagging trail for another 600 metres.
As you approach a gathering of trees, continue straight on the path, ignoring both the left and right turns at the intersction of paths.
After another 500 metres take a righ turn and head east. After 250 metres you will encounter the Hellfire Club building. Continue on East for another 550 metres and you will have reached your start point.
The Restaurant: The Beach House
A former winner of Best Customer Service at the Irish Restaurant Awards, it’s no surprise that visitors and locals alike leave rave reviews of the Beach House in Buncrana.
Two of the biggest things that the Beach House has going for it, is its commitment to locally sourced food, and its incredible location. In Ireland, we can often be a little bit liberal when we say something is “on the water”, but trust us the Beach house is certainly touching the sand, we’ve checked the satelite.
The Walk: Buncrana Shore Path
This walk along the banks of Lough Swilly is worthy of your time no matter the occasion, but if you can make it part of your walk to the Beach House, then all the better.
Distance: 5 km
Duration: 1 hr 20 mins
Start location: Stragill Strand Buncrana Co. Donegal
End location: The Beach House, The Pier, Swilly Road, Buncrana, Co. Donegal
Parking: Stragill Strand Buncrana Co. Donegal
Co-ordinates: 55.160369 -7.489376
Start at Stragiil Strand and head south for 600 metres. Walk on the beach if you prefer, just be sure to rejoin the grassy trail before the sea starts to meet the coast.
The coastal trail continues on south for 2 km until it reaches Ned Point. Here, the banks of the lough are much steeper and the trail turns inwards towards the town of Buncrana.
Continue East for 500 metres until you reach the town. Now stay on foothpaths and follow the R238 south until you reach the Owenkillew River. Take a right, look for sign posts to the pier and walk 400 metres east until you reach the Beach House.
The Restaurant: Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody Country House Hotel
Approximatley 1 hour outside of Arthurstown Co. Wexford, lies Dunbrody Country House Hotel. The picturesque property boasts luxury accomodation, a cooking school, fine dining and a local style pub all on the same grounds. Spaces for all of these ameneities fill up fast so make sure to book in advance if you plan on passing through Wexford.
The Walk: Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
Just a 40 minute drive away from Dunbrody Country House Hotel, this loop walk at Kilmore Quay will certain blow the cobwebs off you on a blustery day. The 6 km loop starts near Kilmore in the dunes before making a return journey on the beach. Make sure you know the time of the tides if you intend stepping on the sand, other wise make your return journey on the grass.
Distance: 6 km
Duration: 1 hr 10 mins
Start location: Mace Shop near Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
End location: Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
Parking: Car park at the pier, Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
Co-ordinates: 52.176438 -6.592033
You will find the entrance to the loop 500 metres north of the Mace shop, just before the entrance to a work yard. You will see yellow way markers and a metal gate. Head through it to reach the dunes.
Head straight for 2.5 km, following the trails worn into the dunes. When you arrive parallel to the quarry on your right, head down to the beach and head back to the quay. This involves a 2.6 km walk along the beach.
You can extend your walk further up the beach if you like, but don’t blame us if you miss your dinner reservations.
Do you know of any walks or hiking trails with good food restaurants nearby? We could feature them in a future extended blog post on the subject. Let us know on our Facebook Page.