Weather like this makes you want to fling on your runners and sunscreen and be by the sea. Check one of these epic walking routes off your list for a weekend well spent. You will have earned your lunch (and dessert...) afterwards.
GO NORTH TO…
1. THE GOBBINS CLIFF PATH & OLD TEA HOUSE
For a really unique experience, visit this spectacular guided path along cliffs at Islandmagee in Antrim. Your guide will point out seabirds such as nesting puffins as you walk along a series of suspension bridges and through a tunnel along the cliff face. You will learn about the geology and biodiversity of the area and there is an abundance of wildlife to be seen in the sheltered waters.
There is of course a café on site, or visit The Old Tea House café and deli which is just 10 minutes away in Whitehead. For lunch try the freshly baked pie with local beef, or the Ballintroy crab or the award winning seafood chowder. It would be rude not to sample the scones with jam and whipped cream too.
2. BALLYCOTTON CLIFF WALK & PIER 26
Walk from Ballycotton in East Cork along to the headland beyond Ballytrasna, and head back, or travel on further to Ballyandreen. It isn’t a loop so you will be doubling back, but the views make it worthwhile. There are a couple of stiles along the path too to prevent livestock from straying along the cliffs. Towards the end of the walk you will see the steps down to the popular swimming spot nicknamed ‘Paradise’. Be warned, it is steep.
Stop for lunch in Ballymaloe café where the menu changes daily with seasonal dishes using locally sourced ingredients, or try Pier 26 overlooking the harbour where seafood is naturally the speciality, fresh off the boats in the harbour below.
TO THE EAST…
3. HOWTH CLIFF WALK & THE DOGHOUSE
Start at the DART station in Howth village and follow the green arrows passing the harbour and marina before ascending the cliff path. You can do a 6km loop or if you head toward the Baily Lighthouse you can come back around the well worn path for views of nearby Lambay Island and Ireland’s Eye for a 10km walk. On a clear sunny day you’d be hard pushed to find more breathtaking views. This is a really handy stroll without any steep parts.
The menu at the Dog House is extensive, with ‘Scooby Snacks’ like bruschetta, spicy chicken quesadillas or chicken wings. The pizza menu is hilarious and pretty innovative, like for example the Horny Bitch topped with aphrodisiacs like asparagus, basil and garlic with a drizzle of sugarcane honey served with a side of two oysters with Tabasco, or the Snoop Dog topped with Cajun chicken and extra herbs.
4. KILKEE CLIFF WALK & THE PANTRY
There are some who say that the Kilkee Cliffs are more impressive than the Cliffs of Moher. Tackle the moderate 8km loop and check out the natural swimming pools known as the Pollock Holes and the natural blow hole in the rock face. You will arrive at Intrinsic Bay, named for a tragic ship that sank there in the early 19th century.
The Pantry in Kilkee village has a huge range of lunch options and after a bracing walk you could choose the healthy option of superfood salad with a trio of quinoa, mixed beans, sundried tomatoes, olives, cranberries and cherry tomatoes. Or share the Pantry’s seafood platter of chunky pink tiger prawns, fresh salmon, Lisdoonvarna smoked salmon with pickled cucumber and wholemeal bread. Don’t leave without trying the desserts, including what the owners claim to be Neven Maguire’s favourite, their famous carrot cake!
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