Backpacking in Ireland: Tips & Trails

Backpacking in Ireland: An ultralight backpacker in a national park climbing rock stairs

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Ireland boasts a wealth of hiking opportunities tailored for ultralight backpackers. With its varied landscapes, clearly defined trails, and its closeness to stunning natural scenery, this nation offers an ideal setting for adventurers seeking excitement.

Within this article, we delve into the realm of ultralight backpacking in Ireland, providing you with the essential information required for your upcoming adventure.

Among other details, we will outline the leading 5 trails in each classification: day hikes (covering distances less than 30 miles) and multi-day trips that offer resupply options at least every two days.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Ireland

  • What to expect: Expect to encounter historical sites, ancient ruins, and charming villages along the way, enriched by the warmth of Irish hospitality. Coastal beauty, traditional music, and encounters with diverse wildlife add to the allure of the journey.
  • Essential gear: Be prepared for rain and pack waterproof gear. Dressing in layers is advisable to adapt to varying conditions. In our experience, having an insect head net handy is a must.
  • Wildlife: Wildlife in Ireland is not harmful. Just be careful about ticks, which can spread diseases, and be ready for annoying midges, those small flies that can bother you.
  • Wild camping: Wild camping in Ireland isn’t officially allowed by law, but it’s often accepted in many isolated and mountainous places. Moreover, the Northern Ireland Forestry Service provides camping permits at certain sites.
  • Best times to go: The ideal time for backpacking in Ireland is from late spring to early autumn (May to September). This period has milder weather, longer days for exploring, and pleasant temperatures. Spring and early autumn have blooming landscapes and fewer crowds. Summer (June to August) is okay, but it can get busier with tourists.

Top 5 Day Hikes (Under 30 Miles)

Here are the top day hikes where ultralight gear truly enhances your experience:

  1. Spinc and Glenealo Valley (5.9 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  2. Coumshingaun Lough and Kilclooney Loop (4.9 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  3. Bog of Frogs Loop (10.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  4. Carrauntoohil Mountain and Devil’s Ladder Loop (7.3 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  5. Cliffs of Moher – Hag’s Head (6.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.

Top 5 Multi-Day Trips

Top multi-day trails in Ireland with resupplies every two days:

  1. Wicklow Way: Dundrum to Clonegal (79.6 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  2. The Dingle Way (113.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  3. The Kerry Way (133.6 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  4. The Beara Way (130.6 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  5. Ireland Coastal Loop (1336.4 miles).
    See on AllTrails.

Annual Weather Averages

Ireland experiences a temperate maritime climate, characterized by mild temperatures and relatively high humidity throughout the year. Here’s a general overview:

  • Spring (March to May): Spring temperatures typically range from 40 to 60°F (4 to 15°C). This season brings blooming landscapes and longer daylight hours.
  • Summer (June to August): Summer temperatures range from 50 to 70°F (10 to 21°C). While it’s the warmest season, rain showers are common, and temperatures rarely get too hot.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn sees temperatures ranging from 40 to 60°F (4 to 15°C). The landscape features autumn colors, and daylight hours start to decrease.
  • Winter (December to February): Winter temperatures range from 35 to 45°F (2 to 7°C). It is the wettest season, and while snow is infrequent, it can occur, especially in higher elevations.

Before making your gear selection, take a look at the weather statistics for Ireland:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High °F474749525659636360565148
Low °F393940434651545452484340
Rainy days191615131212161615172019
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.

FAQ

Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Ireland?

When backpacking in Ireland, building campfires for warmth and cooking requires some planning. Fires are only permitted in established fire pits at campsites, and never on protected peatlands which are susceptible to burning. Make sure to use only dead and downed wood gathered from the ground to avoid damaging vegetation. The fire should be contained within the pit using stones if there is no provided grill. Always maintain control of the fire and fully extinguish it before departing by dousing with water until cold. Be conscious too of local burn bans during dry weather.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Ireland?

Given its changeable oceanic climate, proper outdoor gear is essential – boots, waterproof clothing, warm layers, and rain protection. Check the forecast regularly and prepare for sudden storms. Leave a detailed itinerary with someone trusted. Carry a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case, plus maps in case of GPS failure. First aid supplies are also important due to remote locations. Watch out for uneven ground, rockfall areas near cliffs, and fast-flowing streams when heavy rains occur. Be aware of ticks in shrubland areas and check clothing and gear after outdoor use.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Ireland?

When hiking in Ireland, you may encounter docile grazing animals like cows, sheep, and horses. Move slowly, give them space, and don’t startle them. Keep dogs leashed as livestock can become aggressive towards uncontrolled pets. Watch for adders sunning themselves on trails and avoid getting too close. Give nesting birds plenty of distance and never touch baby animals.

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