Walks & Hikes – Moderate to Hard
Near The Riverside Park Hotel
Wexford has such diversity and geographical spread of walking trails across the county. The west and north of the county especially has hidden walks and gives a sense of adventure to anyone who enjoys getting out in the fresh air. Angela our Sales and Marketing Manager is an avid hill walker and has been out and about over the past few weeks hiking the Wexford trails to give you as many tips as we can.
The walks are more strenuous and challenging than those found on our previous blog and most certainly bring the word ‘adventure’ to the fore.
Some mountaineering knowledge and experience of the outdoors is recommended due to the trails being off the beaten track and rough terrain. The ground underfoot is more often than not, uneven and rugged meaning hiking boots are essential! The views on these trails are beautiful, wild and remote! Don’t forget to always bring your rain gear as the fog can come down quiet quickly.
These walks finish where they start, are easy to locate and parking is not a major issue and as we are based in the centre of Wexford none are too far away.
1. Knockroe and Mt Leinster from the Scullogue Gap.
Starting point is near Kiltealy and signposted 20 minutes’ drive from the Riverside Park Hotel, you stroll along a farmland lane passing by old ruins and charming forests full of nature that leads out onto the stunning views of Mt Leinster and the Blackstairs ridge. It’s an up and down walk and steep in a few places. With the mast on top of Mt Leinster it makes the route finding and navigation easy! The start of the walk in the Scullogue Gap is at Shannon’s lane which has some history behind it.
The name refers to the family farm who were struck by a stray bomb from a lost German bomber plane in 1941. Further up the side of Knockroe is the Giants Table which is a stunning megalithic structure. As part of this route, there is a trail that you can follow which will bring you to the summit of Mt Leinster. It gets a little steep but easy enough to walk and the ground can be uneven and boggy if it has been raining.
It is a narrow hiking trail that leads to the summit. In the distance, on a very clear day, Wales can just be made out but if you are unable to see it, the views are extraordinary either way in all directions. One thing to note is the weather, as fog can come to this summit in a matter of minutes even when not forecasted so it is important to bring the right equipment and gear with you.
2. Bunclody – Coolmelagh
This circular walk is a 13.8 kilometre loop trail located near Moyacomb, Co Wexford. This walk features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking and nature trips. The trail takes you through pine and beech forests and in a number of places on this hill you will notice some fine stone walls made out of flattish pieces of rock. In the eighteenth century, there was a slate quarry on the hill. In early May there is an explosion of bluebells, thriving quietly away beneath the beech trees. I ventured up the windmills which were spectacular to see up close and was lucky to see them starting to turn, the views of Wexford from here are stunning.
The walk starts at Coolmelagh which is through Bunclody village to the right, around 30 minutes from the Riverside Park Hotel. The walk takes around 3 – 4 hours and could be done in hiking boots or runners. I was really lucky to see a few deer when walking around, the woods are filled with wonderful woodland creatures. There isn’t really a carpark just a woodland entrance so we would recommend you start early.
3. Blackrock Mountain taking in Mount Leinster (Black Stairs Mountain)
Starting Point: Ballycrystal Wexford around 25 mins from the Riverside Park Hotel, definitely one of my favourites. This is a spectacular walk with absolutely fabulous views, you start by walking through a charming forest up to the Blackrock Mountain where you can see all of Wexford and along the Irish Sea. From here you walk along the ridge to Mount Leinster where you can see over Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and all the way to the Wicklow mountains. Heading back down you take the steep boggy track to Knockroe (see above route) then take a left back down to Ballycrystal valley with lovely little streams and farmland either side. You can take a left early to make the walk shorter but still is steep. The walk took about 4 hours and it is 17 kilometres.
4. Croghan Mt and the Wicklow Gap from Ballyfad
This is a stunning and challenging trek across the southern area of the North Wexford Hills. It is a great chance to explore the forestry, quiet roads and silent mountains. There are magnificent views in all directions when you leave the forest. Every peak of the Wicklow Hills are in front of you. Like Knockroe and Mt Leinster, you will need to decide on the day the best route to take due to the rough terrain and changes in the weather.
If conditions, energy and weather begin to diminish, there is an alternative route to descent down Monalee Hill. For the adventurous hikers who wish to descent into the Wicklow Gap, it is well worth the effort. This hike is on the doorstep of Gorey, only 25 minutes’ drive from the Riverside Park Hotel.
5. Brandon Hill – Graiguenamanagh
This stunning walk involves crossing the county bounds into Kilkenny and Carlow and allows you to look back to Wexford from a height. It is very accessible from Enniscorthy town, around a 45minute drive. Brandon Hill dominates the landscape in this area and is a must to climb when you are in the area. When you begin to ascend, you will be able to take in the breath-taking Barrow Valley with its canals and locks and the charming woodlands on its banks. There are different summits in the Blackstairs which you can take time to identify along the way.
The historic village of Graiguenamanagh is worth the visit and the hill walk can start in the town or alternatively you can park further up the hill. This trail is easy to navigate making route finding thoroughly rewarding. One thing to note is that the trail has a North/South axis and the trails are pretty easy to follow, except for in bad weather. Terrain conditions for the majority of the trail are good but care has to be taken in sections of the climb. There are captivating views from the summit for you take in which you can spend hours trying to identify landmarks. From the Riverside Park Hotel it will take you 40 minutes.
6. Blackstairs Trek
Blackstairs Trek is a 10.5 kilometre lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Killanne, Co. Wexford. It offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult, however it’s a moderate walk.
Your starting point is near Killanne down Ballybawn lane. There is room for a few cars to park before you enter along a forestry road, the Blackstairs mountain stands to the right, follow the forest road along until you reach the bottom of the mountain and then it’s a hike. Along the route I captured some fantastic images looking down the on Wexford and Carlow, you will find huge boulders and rocks which you climb over on the ridge.
The walk didn’t take long, under 3 hours up and down, very quiet and peaceful, I didn’t meet anyone else on the route. I definitely think of all the walks I have done over the past few weeks, the views from the Blackstairs mountain peak are the most stunning. From the Riverside Park Hotel the start of this walk is 20 minute drive.
For a simple and comfortable walking trail, visit our Easy to Moderate page and discover a range of new places to walk and hike in Wexford.