From Malin to Mizen—Ireland's Classic Coast to Coast Hike!
Ireland’s legendary “Malin to Mizen" runs the length of the country from Malin Head at the in County Donegal to Mizen Head, thought to be Ireland’s most southerly point. Common routes span some 400 miles, typically making it a real challenge. However, MTS has isolated the most beautiful 70 miles to create an approachable itinerary that you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll walk along clifftops and white sand beaches, taking in Ireland’s most iconic sites, including the Giants Causeway, Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal Town, Croagh Patrick, Connemara, the Aran Islands, Galway City, the Cliffs of Moher, Dingle and the Lakes of Killarney. With warm Irish hospitality and a pint waiting for you at the end of each day, you may never want to go home!
11 Days of moderate hiking on trails and country roads, and overland on terrain that is often wet, slippery and uneven.
- Hike the best 70 miles of Ireland’s famous Malin to Mizen Trail--we’re the only North American company to offer the North to South coastal route
- Spend full days among the country’s most iconic sights, jaw-dropping landscapes, and quaint fishing villages
- Our resident guides provide spontaneous opportunities to experience authentic pub life, live traditional Irish music, and a culture of camaraderie
Duration: 12 days Start Location: Dublin, Ireland End Location: Dublin, IrelandDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Dublin, Ireland – Malin Head
Plan to arrive to the airport in Dublin, Ireland, where our guide will meet the group. We'll then transfer to Derry, the United Kingdom's "City of Culture" in 2013. We'll check into our hotel, and then have lunch in this historic and lively city. In the afternoon, we'll hike along the first stretch of our journey, beginning in the most northerly point of Ireland, Malin Head. This wild and windswept headland, peppered in ancient archaeological remains, is perfect for blowing away the cobwebs. Our walk takes us over rugged hills and past dramatic coastal cliffs, providing us with views across Lough Foyle, the north coast of Inishowen, Northern Ireland and, on a fine day, even Scotland. (2–3 hours hiking ~ approx. 5 miles ~ 820' acsent)
Day 2 : The Giant's Causeway
Today we'll walk along clifftops and stretches of white-sand beaches to reach the Giant’s Causeway, dramatic landscape of steep cliffs and 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns that project into the ocean. The Giant's Causeway has for centuries inspired artists, stirred scientific debate and captured the imagination of all who see it. According to legend, a Scottish giant began hurling abuse across the English Channel at the Irish warrior, Fionn mac Cumhaill. So the two giants could have a proper fist fight, Fionn built a causeway of these imposing columns all the way to Scotland. (3–4 hours hiking ~ approx. 8 miles ~ 390' acsent)
Day 3 : Mount Errigal
One of Ireland’s most iconic mountains, the glittering quartzite peak of Mount Errigal, dominates the northwest corner of Ireland. Today we will hike to its summit, where we will be rewarded with expansive views that stretch to the jagged coast, where often Golden Eagles circle the thermals above. Being of the Derryveagh Mountains, Mount Errigal forms part of the Glenveagh National Park, a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness. At the heart of this remote landscape is a most surprising 19th century castle set amongst luxuriant tended gardens. After ascending Mount Errigal, we'll have tea in the castle, and then transfer to Donegal town for the night. (4 hours hiking ~ approx. 5 miles ~ 2130' acsent)
Day 4 : Slieve League Cliffs
Today we will scale some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe! The gigantic façade of Slieve League (or Mountain of the Flagstones) plunges some 1,968 feet into the sea below; its compacted mixture of rocks and ores forms a fabulous kaleidoscope of multi-colored hues. We will traverse the length of the cliffs, and visit an ancient pilgrimage sight along the way. In the village of Ardara we will pop into the infamous Nancy’s Bar for a well-earned pint. (5–6 hours hiking ~ approx. 7½ miles ~ 1700' acsent)
Day 5 : Queen Meave’s Cairn & W B Yeat’s Grave
William Butler Yeats spent much of his life in the shadows of the mountains of Sligo. On a grave stone in the tiny hamlet of Drumcliffe are carved the words: "Cast a cold eye On Life, on Death. Horseman, pass by!" We'll pay him a visit on our way south before climbing the uniquely shaped Knocknarea to visit another resting place: a 180-foot high cairn built over a millennium in honor of a Celtic Queen. Traditionally, climbers pick up a rock at the base of the mountain and carry it to the top of the cairn in her honor. (2 hours hiking ~ approx. 3 miles ~ 985' acsent)
Day 6 : Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland—the tradition of pilgrimage to its summit stretches back over 5,000 years. Thousands of devout Catholics climb the heather covered hills and rough stone paths to the small chapel at the summit every year, some barefoot. Avoiding the well beaten track, we follow an alternative ridge to the summit, allowing us plenty of time to take in the magnificent views of Clew Bay and its 365 islands. This evening you are free to explore the town of Westport. (4 hours hiking ~ approx. 5 miles ~ 2460' acsent)
Day 7 : Killary Harbour & Kylemore Abbey
Today we'll hike along the edge of Ireland’s only fjord, and visit the fairy-tale castle of Kylemore Abbey. The surrounding backdrop to this walk is one of rugged mountain scenery, with steep, craggy peaks framing the harbor on each side. This part of Ireland was particularly affected by the Great Famine of 1845–49, and stone ruins across the landscape speak of the hardship of that era. We'll pass by a ruined village which was depopulated around the time of the famine, and a relief road dating back to 1846 which was constructed by locals in return for food rations. (3–4 hours hiking ~ approx. 6 miles ~ 590' acsent)
Day 8 : Aran Islands
Renowned the world over, the three isolated rocky outcrops of the Aran Islands once held a position of great trading power in ancient Ireland. Today they are a bastion of traditional language, culture and music, unique in their geology and archaeology, and alive with a potent sense of history. Inis Mór is the largest of the Aran Islands and home to one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe: Dún Aonghusa (Dun Aengus), a semi-circular stone fort that sits dramatically on top of a 328-foot drop into the sea. Our walk will take us up to this spectacular location, as we enjoy magnificent views of Galway Bay, Connemara and Black Head in the Burren. (4–5 hours hiking ~ approx. 10 miles ~ 490' acsent)
Day 9 : Cliffs of Moher
The staggering 700-foot high Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the largest colonies of nesting seabirds on mainland Ireland. Walking along the coastal trail today, we'll have the possibility of spotting some interesting sea life such as humpback whales or basking sharks, and if the conditions are right, surfers playing in some of the largest surfable waves in the world. Our evening will be spent in the quirky little village of Dingle, arguably one of the strongest bastions of traditional Irish music. In the evening, we’ll join the locals in one of the pubs to experience some real ‘craic agus ceoil.’ (3 hours hiking ~ approx. 4½ miles ~ 325' acsent)
Day 10 : Slea Head along the Dingle Way
Our trail today begins on the sand at Ventry Bay, then continues along the bottom of Mount Eagle, following the jagged Atlantic Coast around the spectacular Slea Head. Some of the finest archaeological sites in Ireland can be encountered on the Dingle Way, such as standing stones and beehive huts – dry-stone buildings dating from c.2000 BC. Beehive huts are usually dome-shaped, and have a distinctive appearance of layered of stones, with each layer bending slightly closer and narrower towards the peak. At the end of our hike today, we'll have some time to peruse the art galleries and craft shops in Dingle before transferring to Bantry in West Cork. (3–4 hours hiking ~ approx. 6 miles ~ 325' acsent)
Day 11 : Beara Peninsula & Dursey Island
Dursey Island is located at the tip of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. The cable car to the island takes six people—or one cow—at a time! This sparsely inhabited island is famous for its magnificent selection of bird species and powerful tidal streams that rush under the swinging cable car. The landscape is dotted with antiquities ranging from standing stones and an early monastery, to an impressive signal station from the Napoleonic era. Here we'll enjoy a lovely loop hike around the island, taking in the many sights along the way. (5–6 hours hiking ~ approx. 9 miles ~ 985' acsent)
Day 12 : Mizen Head – Dublin – Departure
Today we will reach our journey's end, and the most south-westerly point, Mizen Head, listed in Readers Digest as one of the top 100 "Amazing Places of Britain and Ireland." In all weather, the Mizen is host to breathtaking views, and is famous for its wildflowers and sightings of wildlife, dolphins, whales, seals, gannets, kittiwakes, choughs – the bird migration north-south flight path is just a mile off shore. The walk to the signal station will take us down 99 steps, and over an arched bridge amid stunning scenery.
After our visit to Mizen Head, we'll transfer to Cork City where we'll visit the English Market (one of the oldest food markets in Europe) for lunch before transferring back to Dublin. (Short stroll, 99 steps up and down)
PLEASE NOTE - This itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the guides having regard to weather conditions, and other factors.
DATES: Best time to go: June, August Departures: Jun 7 - 18, 2015 Aug 9 - 20, 2015
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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