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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Self-guided drive & hike tour around Ireland - the Giant's Causeway
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Highlights

  • Visiting top historic attractions—Dublin’s Trinity College to megalithic Newgrange
  • Walking to the Giant’s Causeway, and crossing the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge
  • A collection of fantastic walks at your disposal, including several national trails
  • Driving the famed Ring of Kerry and staying in both Killarney and Dingle towns
  • Time to wander around Dublin’s Trinity College and visit the Book of Kells
  • Stepping back in time at the wonderful Titanic Experience and exploring Belfast

Travel the length and breadth of Ireland on a two-week scenic drive and hike tour which takes in all the iconic sites. Encounter such must-sees as Dublin, the Giant’s Causeway, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Croagh Patrick, Belfast’s Titanic Experience and megalithic Newgrange.

Become well-acquainted with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as you take to the road on a loop drive which starts and ends in Dublin. Enjoy some excellent walks as you pass through most of the island’s counties; including Co. Wicklow, Tipperary, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Donegal and Antrim!

With your own vehicle you’re able to cover plenty of ground behind the wheel, with scenic routes between Ireland’s top highlights. Ireland boasts a plethora of historic and cultural gems —from the fantastic new Titanic Experience in Belfast, to such famed attractions as Dublin’s Trinity College and Book of Kells, through to ancient relics such as the medieval Rock of Cashel and Newgrange (3,200BC!). You’ve also easy access to some great walks that have been hand-picked for you, ensuring you explore the best trails through the country’s moody mountains, wild coastline and serene loughs.

Our Ultimate Ireland Discovery drive & hike tour includes 14 nights hand-picked accommodation in high-quality bed and breakfasts and guesthouses whose hosts always go the extra mile to share their top tips and recommendations. We also include 14 breakfasts, a road atlas, guide book and suggested walks so you’re all set for your Ireland adventure! Car hire is not included as standard, but just let us know if you’d like us to book it for you as an optional extra (pick-up/drop-off Dublin city or airport).

DAY 1: Arrive Dublin

Ireland’s capital city is a treasure trove of delights and a wonderful starting point for your drive & hike tour. Discover Dublin’s top attractions; Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol, the Temple Bar area and the Guinness Storehouse. This evening why not soak up the lively atmosphere of Dublin’s bars.


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Dublin


DAY 2: Drive Dublin to Kilkenny. Fairy Castle Walk on the Wicklow Way

Set out through the gentle countryside to the charming town of Kilkenny. If you are itching to stretch your legs, then you can opt to walk to the cairn atop Fairy Castle in the Dublin Mountains, following the Wicklow Way; a national trail with panoramic views over Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Hills.


Continue on to the 6th century Monastic City of Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains, which iswell-worth a stop. End the day in Kilkenny; as well as being Ireland’s smallest, Kilkenny is also known as the ‘Marble City’ thanks to its black polished limestone (‘marble’) that was quarried there. Walk the beautifully-preserved old streets and soak up the medieval culture—the city dates back more than 1,500 years.Walk: 6 miles (3 hrs approx.)


Drive: approx. 150km, 2h30


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Kilkenny


DAY 3: Rock of Cashel & Blarney Castle. Drive to Killarney

After a delicious Irish breakfast, set off to the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. The Rock dominates the surrounding plains, and was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster prior to the Norman invasion. This picturesque complex of medieval architecture also has a remarkable collection of Celtic art.


As you drive south west you enter County Cork.Get the ’gift of the gab’ at Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone—said to bestow the gift of eloquence! Head to County Kerry and the charming small town of Killarney with its excellent bars and restaurants; an ideal base from which to explore Killarney National Park and you’ll spend the next two nights here.


Drive: approx 235km, 3h15


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 4: Drive the Ring of Kerry or Muckross House & Torc Waterfall Walk

Today you’ve one of the most famous (and popular) touring routes in Ireland ahead of you— the Ring of Kerry. 179km of narrow, winding roads offer outstanding scenic vistas, including Ladies View and the Gap of Dunloe. Starting from Killarney you’ll explore the beautiful Inveragh peninsula, taking in the remote Black Valley and charming towns and villages of Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen and Glenbeigh.


Alternatively, stretch your legs with a walk around picturesque Muckross House and Gardens, a lovely Victorian gem with the nearby Torc waterfall. Return to Killarney.


Scenic Drive: approx. 190km, 4hrs


Or Walk: Muckross Lake & Torc Waterfall: approx. 7 miles, moderate grading, 3-4hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Killarney


DAY 5: Slea Head Walk, Dingle Peninsula

Continue your drive through the stunning Kerry countryside as you approach the Dingle Peninsula, described by National Geographic Traveller as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’!  Take a walk along The Dingle Way, as you enjoy a loop walk from the Great Blasket Island Visitor Centre at Dunquin. Explore rugged Slea Head on foot, soaking in the superb coastal views out to the islands themselves. You’ll find numerous stone ‘clochan’ beehive huts here.


Continue on foot across the broad, domed summit of Mount Eagle (approx. 500m), blanketed in heather. In clear weather you can see the Three Sisters, Brandon Mountain, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and other high mountains of the Inveragh Peninsula.


Walk: up to 10 miles, 500m ascent/descent


Drive: approx. 110km, 2h30


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Dingle Town


DAY 6: Cliffs of Moher & the Burren Walk. Drive to Galway

You’ve a long and rewarding day ahead as you bid a fond farewell to County Kerry and make your way towards Limerick and the coast of County Clare. Reaching the famed Cliffs of Moher you’ll enjoy views across the wild Atlantic Ocean to O’Brien’s Tower. Take time to explore and revel in the superb views along the cliffs to the distant Moher Tower on Hag’s Head. You can now check the Burren Way off your list of national Irish trails to have followed (albeit in part!) as the path by the cliffs follows the original route.


Walk: up to 6 miles


Drive: approx. 300km, 4h40


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Galway


DAY 7: Connemara National Park Walk OR Aran Boat Trip

Setting out from Galway City you can drive the Connemara Loop to Letterfrack Village, at the entrance to Connemara National Park. A lovely option is the 2-mile Lower Diamond Hill Walk which can be extended to climb to the summit of Diamond Hill itself (450m ascent/descent approx.). Those who choose to climb to the quartzite ridge will be rewarded with sensational views to the Twelve Bens. This delightful corner of Ireland offers an ever-changing landscape of brooding mountains, pristine beaches, the wild Atlantic, mist-covered loughs, pre-historic bogs and remote glens.


If you’d prefer to take to the water, then the Aran Islands are located in the heart of Galway Bay. A ferry service (seasonal, weather dependent) operates from Ros a’ Mhíl on the mainland (approx. 35km/42 mins drive from Galway City).


Walk: from 2-5 miles


Drive: approx. 210km, 3h30 (to/from Visitors Centre at Letterfrack)


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Galway


DAY 8: Croagh Patrick Walk. Drive to Westport, Co. Mayo

Bid a fond farewell to Co. Galway as you set off towards Co. Mayo. Today’s optional walk is to the summit of Croagh Patrick, considered the holiest mountain in Ireland, which rises 762m above Clew Bay. Here the tradition of pilgrimage stretches back over 5,000 years.


Each year, around 1 million pilgrims climb to the summit of ‘The Reek’ (as it is warmly known), in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD. The ascent from the Visitors Centre usually takes 2-3 hours, and the descent 1.5-2 hours. Following your return from the summit, continue on to the nearby town of Westport.


Walk: 4.5 miles


Drive: approx. 100km, 1h45


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Westport


DAY 9: Mullaghmore Beach & Pier Walk, Co. Sligo. Drive to Ardara, Co. Donegal

Depart Westport for Co. Sligo. If you would prefer to take a rest from walking today, you may like to stop in at the fascinating Country Life Museum (National Museum of Ireland), home to the national collection of objects representing the traditional way of life in Ireland since 1850.


Alternatively, enjoy a lovely walk along Bunduff Strand; a pure white beach popular with surfers. As you follow the trail around Mullaghmore Head you’ll note that there is only Inishmurray Monastic Island between you and America! In good weather you’ll be able to revel in the excellent views of Slieve League and the monolithic-shaped mountain of Benbulben.


Continue northwest to Co. Donegal and reach the pretty village of Ardara, where you’ll spend the next two nights.


Walk: 5 miles


Drive: approx. 200km, 3hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Ardara


DAY 10: Donegal Castle. Slieve League Sea Cliffs Walk

Sliabh Liag (Slieve League), are the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe reaching a height of 600m, making them nearly three times the height of Co Clare’s Cliffs of Moher.


Once at the car park at the top of Sliabh Liag you can walk even higher to the highest point of the cliffs using the Pilgrims Path. Please note that it is possible to drive up; therefore the track is shared between both cars and walkers.


Walk: 4 miles


Drive: approx. 120km, 2h45


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Ardara


DAY 11: Inishowen Peninsula Walk (5 miles). Drive to Ballintoy

Co. Donegal boasts a landscape filled with castles, Celtic crosses, pagan monuments and ancient churches. The timeless Inishowen Peninsula is often referred to as 'Ireland in Miniature'. Take a loop hike around the headland, starting at a World War II lookout tower. Pass the point from where St Columba left Ireland on his way to Iona (Portkill) and a viewing point from where, on fine days, you may even spot the west coast of Scotland.


Drive on into Northern Ireland and to Ballintoy, steeped in history and folklore and situated in one of the most picturesque parts of North Antrim between the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, with views out to Rathlin Island. Spend the next two nights here.


Walk: 5 miles


Drive: approx. 185km, 3hrs


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Ballintoy


DAY 12: The Giant’s Causeway Walk: Ballintoy to Bushmills

Today brings one of the walk’s you’ll no doubt have been hotly anticipating since your arrival in Ireland—the Causeway Coast.


Stride out westward from Ballintoy Harbour, along the stunning White Park Bay, as you make your way along the coast and cliff-tops with breath-taking views, to reach the Giant’s Causeway. Take a look in at the Visitors’ Centre, then explore this remarkable phenomenon; unique hexagonal columns caused by volcanic cooling.


Take the bus back from Bushmills to Ballintoy (operates during summertime only; otherwise you will need to take a taxi). If you wish, you can extend this walk by a couple of miles at the start, by first walking east from Ballintoy to the popular Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.


Walk: 12 miles


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Ballintoy


DAY 13: Divis & Black Mountain Trail Walk OR Drive to Belfast

Divis and the Black Mountain offer wide-reaching views across Northern Ireland. You’ll find the mountains in the heart of the Belfast Hills, which provide the backdrop to the city's skyline. The rich, varied archaeological landscape is home to a host of wildlife. Enjoy the view or stretch your legs and follow one of the walking trails (1-4 miles).


Alternatively, drive into Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast; a lively town which has in the past been a centre for the Irish linen industry, tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding. The city's main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, built the well-known RMS Titanic in 1911/12. Spend time wandering around the Titanic Quarter and see the fabulous Titanic Experience, with its nine galleries and exhibition space.


Continue your drive to the seaside town of Bangor, situated on the picturesque south shore of Belfast Lough, some 12 miles east of Belfast. The town boasts Northern Ireland’s biggest and most prestigious marina and Bangor Abbey, whose tower dates from the 15th century.


Walk: 1-4 miles Drive: approx. 115km, 1h40


Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Bangor


DAY 14: Lough Shannagh Mourne Mountains Walk, Co. Down OR Newgrange. Drive to Dublin

Continuing south towards Dublin, reach the humpbacked granite hills of the Mourne mountains. Here the landscape is characterised by grey granite, yellow gorse and whitewashed cottages. A blend of ocean, sky and hillside makes for scenic driving.


Perhaps enjoy a walk around Lough Shannagh (the ‘lake of the fox’), which leads uphill on the 'Banns Road', an off-road farm track. The 7-mile route circles the lough, with a high point of 587m at Carn Mountain. At times it also follows and crosses the Mourne Wall; 19.5 miles of dry-stone wall encircling the Silent Valley reservoirs, built between 1904-1922 and traversing no less than 15 of the Mourne’s summits.


If you prefer to take it easy today, just 40 mins north of Dublin lies Newgrange. Incredibly, these megalithic tombs predate Stonehenge, Mycena and the Pyramids! Back behind the wheel; reach the bustling city of Dublin.


Walk: 7 miles


Drive: approx. 250km, 4 hrs


Overnight: B&B, Inn or Guesthouse in Dublin


DAY 15: Onward Travel

After breakfast your adventure through Ireland is complete and you may arrange for onward travel.

Accommodation

One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the B&B’s and guesthouses to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.


Accommodation Location


We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your
itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability, we may have
to accommodate you at an alternative location. In the unlikely event
that we have to accommodate you elsewhere we will advise you of this
before confirming your booking.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café. Dinner is available in pubs or restaurants close to your accommodation.


Availability

This trip is available from mid-March to mid-October. You can start your tour on any date in the season. Option prices will be displayed as part of the booking process.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café. Dinner is available in pubs or restaurants close to your accommodation.


Car Hire

Car hire is not included in your trip however can be added on as an additional extra. Your collection and drop off point is Dublin Airport or city centre.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Most of the route and walks are not way marked however we will provide you with detailed maps and route notes meaning you should have no problem following the route each day.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent / descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Getting to/from Dublin

Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route as well as scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin.


There are multiple carriers that fly between North America and Dublin, including: American Airlines—Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, New York, Austin; Aer Lingus—Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston; Delta—Atlanta; United Airlines- Dallas; Delta—Atlanta, US Airways—Philadelphia, Charlotte,; Air Canada—Toronto.


From the airport there is a good bus service into Dublin city centre.

Getting to/from Dublin

Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route as well as scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin.


There are multiple carriers that fly between North America and Dublin, including: American Airlines—Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, New York, Austin; Aer Lingus—Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston; Delta—Atlanta; United Airlines- Dallas; Delta—Atlanta, US Airways—Philadelphia, Charlotte,; Air Canada—Toronto.


From the airport there is a good bus service into Dublin city centre.


Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend taking out travel insurance to cover cancellation or curtailment of your trip.

Included

  • 14 Nights accommodation in en suite rooms wherever possible.
  • 14 Breakfasts.
  • A detailed info pack, guide book, road atlas and route notes.
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of any issues.

Excluded

  • Travel to/from Dublin.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.
  • Taxi transfers or public transport.
  • Car hire (available as optional extra).
  • Entry fees/boat trips/optional excursions.

Extras

  • Single or solo walker supplements (as applicable)
  • Additional nights
  • Car Hire

We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

Can I book car hire?

Car hire is not automatically included in arrangements and we can provide a quotation for this separately. Alternatively, you are free to make your own arrangements for vehicle rental. 

Should I add extra nights to my tour?

Many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk to sample more of the wonderful walking and attractions available. Please contact our team should you wish to add extra nights along the way. Your itinerary includes a variety of suggested activities and attractions each day, and you are free to decide what you would like to see and how long you’d like to spend exploring; but remember—this is a busy itinerary and so is fairly fast-paced! If you’d prefer a more leisurely tour of Ireland, we strongly recommend you talk to us about adding additional nights along the way.

How fit do I need to be?

With up to 12 miles each day of walking this tour is graded easy to moderate, and is suitable for those with a good level of fitness.  All walks are optional of course! We suggest that you might like to start a regular walking programme before you travel, in order to make the most out of your time and walks in Ireland. The suggested walks are not way marked and certain sections may follow indistinct trails across boggy, rough and remote ground. You will be provided with route notes however you should be a competent navigator with map. The route comprises of hill and mountain tracks, minor roads and highland paths. A Road Atlas will be provided so that you can easily find your way on Ireland’s roads and highways.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our info packs have a list of all equipment to bring on your walk.  You should also bring your driving license with you (both paper and card/photo ID sections)

Grade

This tour is graded easy to moderate and is suitable for fit travellers. The walks are all optional, therefore you can choose how much or little you wish to do each day.

Wonderful Ireland

5

The itinerary was well organized and the accommodations were great particularly the smaller hotels & B&B's. The road atlas and driving directions were very useful. The Lonely Planet book included in the packet was invaluable and took us to many beautiful unplanned areas. We brought along our own hiking maps and did some awesome hikes and climbed many summits. The people were all warm and welcoming. There is so much natural beauty in Ireland and many ancient sites to visit. Take the road less traveled and you will be pleasantly surprised in Ireland.

Stray Cat

California

true

Truly the best of Ireland

5

We liked the mix of nice walks and landscapes, cities and culture to discover, variety of accommodation,s. We have seen a lot of highlights. We loved Dingle Peninsula and The Aran Island trip. Climbing the Croagh Patrick on a very rainy day made the climb only more special. The relaxing walk the day after around a sunny Mullaghmore made it a prefect combination. Donegal was beautiful and for us a place we like to discover more in the future. The north coast, with the Giant Causeway, was also stunning. We were surprised by Newgrange. It's really worth going there. Especially after all the walking we had done during the holiday, this was a interesting and relaxed end of the vacation. For us this trip was truly an Ireland Discovery. It met all our expectations.

Peter and Jotika

Groningen, Netherlands.

true

Ultimate Ireland Discovery

5.0 2

100.0

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