When I’m not hiking, I’m usually either thinking about or planning my next hike. I have found that the Ireland’s National Waymarked Trails are always a good starting point for these big dreams. There are currently 45 walking routes in Ireland that are classified as “National Waymarked Trails”. The variety in distances on offer means that there is something to suit everyone. Each trail needs to meet certain criteria to be classified as a National Waymarked Trail. The criteria is set out by Sport Ireland and gives a level of comfort to walkers about the standard of the trail.
What Makes a National Waymarked Way?
Some general rules that the National Waymarked Trails need to adhere to are:
- There should be an opportunity to stop for food/drink every 20 – 30km along the route. This is classified as a service provider (shop, pub, café) within 3km of the trail.
- Where possible, rest areas or picnic areas to be made available at appropriate intervals.
- There should be accommodation options at the start and end of the trail and where possible every 20-30km on longer trails.
- The target is to have at least 80% of the trail not on public roads.
- Parking should be available at the trail starting points.
- Signs or waymarking information is provided at any junction along the trail (e.g. if not clear which direction the trail takes) and reassurance waymarkings should be in place every 500m to 1km along straight stretches of the route.
The Sport Ireland site is a good resource for anyone interested in planning to hike any of the 44 trails. They have details about distance, difficulty level, total ascent and a brief description/map for each route. However, they don’t seem to publish a full list of all National Waymarked Trails. Which is a pity because there is a lot of conflicting information out there as to how many National Waymarked Trails there actually are!
The trails themselves range in distance from the Multeen Way in Tipperary which is 23km to the Ulster Way which is a massive 1,000km!
Complete List of National Waymarked Ways
I have set out a table below which lists each of the 44 National Waymarked Trails in order of distance:
|Number||Trail||Km||Start Point||End Point|
|1||Multeen Way||23||Milestone, Tipperary||Tipperary Town|
|2||Leitrim Way||56||Leitrim Village||Manorhamilton|
|3||Cavan Way||26||Dowra, Cavan||Blacklion, Cavan|
|4||Westmeath Way||33||Kilbeggan, Westmeath||Mullingar, Westmeath|
|5||Nore Valley Way||34||Kilkenny City||Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny|
|6||Offaly Way||37||Cadamstown, Offaly||Lemanaghan, Offaly|
|7||Táin Way||40||Carlingford, Louth||Carlingford, Louth|
|8||Dublin Mountain Way||42||Tallaght, Dublin||Shankhill, Dublin|
|9||Slieve Felim Way||43||Murroe, Limerick||Silvermines, Tipperary|
|10||North Kerry Way||48||Tralee, Kerry||Ballyheigue, Kerry|
|11||Slí Gaeltacht Mhúscraí||50||Kealkill, Cork||Millstreet, Cork|
|12||Slí Na Finne||51||Fintown, Donegal||Fintown, Donegal|
|13||Monaghan Way||54||Clontibret, Monaghan||Inniskeen, Monaghan|
|14||Western Way – Galway||55||Oughterard, Galway||Leenane, Galway|
|15||Tipperary Heritage Way||56||Vee Gap, Tipperary||Cashel, Tipperary|
|16||Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail||61||Balla, Mayo||Murrisk, Mayo|
|17||Bluestack Way||65||Donegal Town||Ardara, Donegal|
|18||Slí Cholmcille||65||Ardara, Donegal||Ardara, Donegal|
|19||Slí Na Rosann||65||Dungloe, Donegal||Dungloe, Donegal|
|20||Duhallow Way||67||Bweeng, Cork||Mallow, Co. Cork|
|21||Lough Derg Way||68||Limerick City||Dromineer, Tipperary|
|22||Slieve Bloom Way||71||Glenbarrow, Laois||Glenbarrow, Laois|
|23||East Munster Way||75||Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary||Clogheen, Tipperary|
|24||Slí An Earagail||77||Dunlewy, Donegal||Dunlewy, Donegal|
|25||Sligo Way||80||Lough Talt, Sligo||Dromahair, Leitrim|
|26||Ballyhoura Way||89||St. John’s Bridge, Cork||Limerick Junction, Tipperary|
|27||Hymany Way||90||Portumna, Galway||Ballygar, Galway|
|28||Avondhu Way||94||Clogheen, Tipperary||Bweeng, Cork|
|29||South Leinster Way||104||Kildavin, Carlow||Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary|
|30||Suck Valley Way||105||Castlerea, Roscommon||Castlerea, Roscommon|
|31||Burren Way||114||Lahinch, Clare||Corrofin, Clare|
|32||Grand Canal Way||117||Adamstown, Co. Dublin||Shannon Harbour, Offaly|
|33||Barrow Way||120||Robertstown, KIldare||St. Mullins, Carlow|
|34||Western Way – Mayo||124||Aasleagh, Mayo||Ballycastle, Mayo|
|35||Miner’s Way and Historical Trail||129||Arigna, Roscommon||Dowra, Cavan|
|36||Wicklow Way||129||Marlay Park, Dublin||Clonegal, Carlow|
|37||Royal Canal Way||146||Dublin City||Cloondara, Longford|
|38||Mid Clare Way||148||Newmarket on Fergus, Clare||Newmarket on Fergus, Clare|
|39||Dingle Way||162||Tralee, Kerry||Tralee, Kerry|
|40||Sheep Head’s Way||175||Bantry, Cork||Bantry, Cork|
|41||East Clare Way||180||Killaloe, Clare||Killaloe, Clare|
|42||Beara Way||206||Glengariff, Cork||Glengariff, Cork|
|43||Kerry Way||214||Killarney, Kerry||Killarney, Kerry|
|44||Slí Chonamara||220||Galway City||Oughterard, Galway|
Some points of clarification are needed for the above table:
- The Westmeath Way is incomplete. The trail goes from Kilbeggan to Mullingar. However, there is a section in the middle (between Dysart and Ladestown) where walkers are not permitted on the route. As such, walkers will need to complete Westmeath Way in two separate stages.
- The Nore Valley Way is incomplete. There are three sections to the Nore Valley Way. 1) Kilkenny to Bennetsbridge 2) Bennetsbridge to Thomastown and 3) Thomastown to Inistioge. The second section from Bennetsbridge to Thomastown is under development so similar to the Westmeath Way, this trail will need to be completed in two stints.
- You will note that 13 of the above National Waymarked Trails are looped walks that start and end at the same location. These are that little bit easier to organise as you can base all your planning around this main location.
- According to monaghantourism.com, the Monaghan Way is currently closed.
To add a little complication to the above list of 44 National Waymarked Trails, a number of the trails combine to form larger routes. There are:
- The Blackwater way combines the Dunhallow Way and Avondhu Way routes.
- The Slí Dún na nGall is made of 4 looped National Waymarked Trails.
- Slí Na Finne;
- Sli Cholmcille;
- Slí Na Rosann; and,
- Slí An Earagail
- The Beara-Breifne Way is a 500km route from the Beara peninsula in Cork to the Breifne area of Leitrim/Cavan. It more or less follows the march of 17th century Cork chieftain O’Sullivan Beare. It includes the following 12 trails:
- Beara Way
- Slí Gaeltacht Mhúscraí
- The North West Cork Way (not a National Waymarked Trail)*
- The Ballyhoura Way
- Multeen Way
- Ormond Way (not a National Waymarked Trail)*
- Hymany Way
- Suck Valley Way
- Lough Gara Way (not a National Waymarked Trail)*
- Miner’s Way & Historical Trail
- Leitrim Way
- Cavan Way
*While the above routes are well signposted, they have not been designated as a National Waymarked Way.
- As you can see, the Ulster Way is a mammoth c. 1,000km route. It is made up of 16 “Quality Sections”. These are well marked out trails predominately off road. These are joined together by “Link Sections” which are not waymarked and mainly on public roads. More information can be found at walkni.com
Finally, my personal experience of looking for information on each of the National Waymarked Ways is that it can be confusing. The Sports Ireland website generally gives the best and most detailed information. Be careful when looking at tour operators overviews of trails as they can sometimes only include information on the specific sections of trails that they cater for. So they are not always the best if you are looking for information on the full route.
Anyway, happy planning and happy hiking. I hope this post will be of some help!