Ireland and Lake district walking small group tour.
Ireland and Lake district walking small group tour. This eighteen day small group tour has been specially designed for the active senior. For those interested in a guided walking tour through the beautiful countryside of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Northern England. This tour allows you to spend up to five nights in each locality and to go out each day to explore the area in some depth. A good level of fitness is required for this tour, but the effort expended will be well rewarded.
This walking tour begins in Eire (The Republic of Ireland). It then continues on in the UK’s Northern Ireland, the English Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. These regions provide dramatic scenery. They are remote wilderness areas, along with interesting history and picturesque villages. There is something here for almost everyone.
After meeting in Dublin, the tour heads west by coach to Donegal on the wild Atlantic coast. Here the group will spend five nights giving ample time for a number of guided walks along cliff paths, beaches, valley floors and mountain tracks. Walk through some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery and enjoy a taste of remote and peaceful Irish wilderness.
Another highlight of any visit to Ireland is the extraordinary Giant’s Causeway on the east coast. This is a UNESCO world heritage site where octagonal volcanic basalt columns form one of the world’s most unusual landscapes. The area is steeped in myth and, according to legend, the columns were formed by feuding giants!
From Ireland the tour will take you by ferry to Scotland and then to northern England where you will have the chance to walk through the Lakes District made famous by the Romantic Poets and loved by tourists ever since. You will stay four nights in Keswick and use this picturesque village as a base for your exploration of the area.
The tour ends in the Yorkshire Dales. Here you spend time in the beautiful Swaledale Valley, a favourite location of hiker and writer Alfred Wainwright. You will also have the opportunity to explore part of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and the dramatic cliff paths of the east coast.
Overview: This afternoon, we meet our group leader in the Dublin hotel and enjoy an introductory dinner and program orientation.
Accommodation: Maldron Hotel Parnell Square or similar
Overview: After breakfast, we head to Enniskillen, where we enjoy a guided tour of the Castle. Along the way, we enjoy many spectacular scenic locations. In the evening, we head back to Donegal for dinner in the hotel.
Accommodation: Ard na Breatha or similar
Overview: This morning, we drive to Glencolmbkille, where a local guide takes us on a walking tour of this extraordinary coastal area. We embark on the “Tower Loop” coastal walk (6kms), which takes us past the Megalithic Tomb and allows us to learn about Ireland in times gone by, getting an overview of the history of the country and the area. Afterwards we will enjoy a 6km coastal walk over mountain tracks and small roads. The walk ends at a Martello watch tower which we will stop to explore and to admire the Atlantic ocean views. We will also find cross inscribed pillars, and impressive megalithic tomb along the way.
In the afternoon, we visit a hand weaver, whose family has been weaving Dongeal tweed, a local speciality fabric for generations.
Accommodation: 3 nights Ard na Breatha or similar
Overview: After breakfast, we set off for Slieve League, where a local guide takes us on a half-day hike exploring the area. On this tour, we take in the spectacular Slieve League Cliffs, and enjoy a packed picnic lunch on the way. In the afternoon, we return to the hotel and have the remainder of the day at leisure.
Accommodation: Ard Na Breatha or similar
Overview: Transferring northwards we have a fantastic stop along the way at Glenveagh National Park. Here we will enjoy a 3.5km lakeside walk, along the floor of the Glenveagh Valley, taking in enviable views of the mountains and a taste of the remote and peaceful Irish wilderness. Along the way we will keep an eye out for the wildlife, including red deer and golden eagles, recently reintroduced to the park. The walk ends at the gothic-style Glenveagh Castle where the gardens work both in contrast and harmony to their wild surroundings. Here we will enjoy lunch before touring the castle where you will hear tales of trespassing sheep, evictions and ancient curses.
Afterward, we head to Letterkenny to settle in to our new hotel.
Accommodation: Accommodation: 2 Nights The Silver Tassie or similar
Overview: Today we make our way to Ireland’s most northerly point on the isolated headland of Inishowen where we spend the day exploring the peninsula.
Our first port of call is Fort Dunree, a cliff-top military fort that has been a point of strategic importance since ancient times. After visiting the onsite museum we will wander the cliff path, alongside the nesting seabirds, fulmars and coughs before arriving at the guns which are still in place.
After the change to get some lunch and explore one of the nearby villages, we will spent the afternoon further exploring this wild coast with a 5 km beach walk on one of the fine white-sand beaches, breathing in some of the freshest air in Europe.
On the way back to the hotel we will stop at the Grianan of Aileagh, one of Ireland’s most important pre-historic monuments, this hilltop fortress dates back almost 4000 years.
Accommodation: Accommodation: Silver Tassie Hotel or similar
Overview: The city of Derry is a completely walled city which has 1,500 years of history and culture enclosed within its walls.
The city has long been associated with Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’ the political and religious divide that ignited years of violent struggle after the Republic of
Ireland gained independence from the UK and Northern Ireland’s catholic residents subsequently fought for their civil rights. You will join a Derry native for a walking tour of the city where you will learn of the city’s turbulent and emotive past as well as it’s positive present.
Continuing onwards into Northern Ireland, we will arrive at the Causeway Coast where we will stop at the iconic ruins of Dunluce Castle before continuing on to our next accommodation in Bushmills.
Accommodation: Accommodation: Bayview Hotel or similar
Overview: This morning we will set out from our hotel on foot along the coastal path towards the iconic Giant’s Causeway for a 4km walk which takes in some of the best scenery the area has to offer. Here octagonal volcanic basalt columns form one of the world’s most unique landscapes.
This is a UNESCO world heritage site, the area is steeped in myth and you will learn how the columns were formed by feuding giants.
Further exploring this iconic coastline, later we will stop at Carrick-a- Rede were the rope bridge was suspended 30m above the Atlantic Ocean 350 years ago- cross if you dare! Those who do will be rewarded with a birds eye view of the clear green waters flowing through ancient caves and caverns below.
Accommodation: Bayview Hotel or similar
Overview: We have one final stop along in North Antrim as we head eastwards towards Belfast. The Dark Hedges, in Ballymoney, are a a compelling landscape feature where a beautiful avenue of beach trees have inexplicably intertwined.
From there we will continue our journey to the Irish Sea coast, exploring the famous Glens of Antrim where we will enjoy a 5km walk through an old-growth forest where hundreds of varieties of moss and fern enjoy the cool shade beneath no fewer than three waterfalls.
From here we spend some time exploring the village of Glenarm before travelling along the Irish Sea coast to our next hotel near Belfast City.
Accommodation: Accommodation: Malone Lodge or similar
Overview: Exploring Belfast City and surrounds today, we begin at Hillsborough Castle, here we walk in the footsteps of presidents and princesses as we learn of this beautiful building’s place in Northern Ireland’s history. From here, we head into the city of Belfast where, after visiting the Titanic Experience museum in the newly revived and reinvigorated Titanic Quarter you have the opportunity to explore the city alone on foot. Tonight we enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Malone Lodge or similar
Overview: After breakfast, we make the short hop across the Irish Sea by ferry from Belfast to south west Scotland, arriving in Cairnryan. We then transfer south into England and the Lake District, where our destination is the picturesque market town of Keswick. On the way, we enjoy a visit to Threave Gardens in Dumfries.
Accommodation: The Skiddaw Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we tackle our first local “fell” (the local name for a hill). A short transfer after breakfast takes us south to Lake Grasmere where our 7km circular hike commences. The hike up Loughrigg Fell is fairly short but climbs to a height of 335m so is quite challenging. However, the wide-reaching views from the summit make it worth it. After our hike we visit one of the Lakes most famous villages, Grasmere, to enjoy some local highlights including a visit to Dove Cottage former home of acclaimed English poet William Wordsworth. We then return late afternoon to Keswick with a visit to prehistoric Castlerigg Stone Circle before returning to our accommodation for evening meal and overnight stay.
Accommodation: The Skiddaw Hotel or similar
Overview: After a short transfer to the west coast, we’ll enjoy our first hike in England by following part of the famous ‘Coast to Coast’ trail (10km, roughly 3-4 hours). We’ll start in traditional style at the village of St Bees, by dipping at least a toe in the Irish Sea! The route then follows the sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head, where puffins, kittiwakes, and guillemots can sometimes be seen.
Turning inland, we pass through a former coal and iron ore industrial area before returning to St Bees. There will be the chance to stop in a traditional village pub for a pint of local ale before transferring back to our hotel in Keswick
Accommodation: The Skiddaw Hotel or similar
Overview: We transfer south to the village of Coniston and Coniston Water, one of England’s most beautiful lakes. Here, we take on a short but beautiful hike around Tarn Hows, a glacial lake. (Today’s walk is 4km, and will take roughly 1-2 hours.) Afterwards, we’ll enjoy lunch in Coniston with some time to relax and explore before an optional steam boat ride on Coniston Water. We then return to our hotel accommodation mid afternoon, allowing some free time to explore Keswick before we depart the next morning.
Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel or similar
Overview: A short transfer east takes us into the Eden Valley in the Yorkshire Dales. We enjoy a hike on the limestone plateau (9km, roughly 3-4 hours), seeking out the rare dwarf trees and other unusual plants which frequent this environment. We then continue east to the charming market town of Richmond, where some free time allows you to visit the historic castle or perhaps enjoy some shopping.
Accommodation: Kings Head Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we venture into the beautiful Swaledale valley, a favourite location of hiker and writer Alfred Wainwright, who created the Coast to Coast hiking trail. We’ll hike a section of that trail, following the riverside past fields bounded by traditional stones walls, most likely populated by sheep which are a real feature of the landscape here. (Today’s hike is 10km, and will take roughly 3-4 hours.)
Accommodation: Overnight The Victoria Hotel or similar
Overview: We continue east in the morning to visit the ruins at Mount Grace Priory, located on the edge of the North Yorks Moors National Park. Afterwards, we venture into the park, we enjoy a hike across the bleak, heather-covered moors which give this park its unique character. (This walk is 8kms, taking roughly 3 hours to complete.)
In the afternoon, we head to our new hotel, in Whitby.
Accommodation: The Victoria Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we walk up the east coast, the obvious place to explore Whitby’s dramatic coastline. We follow a trail which rises high above the cliffs, offering elevated sea views throughout. (This hike is 10km long, and take 3-4 hours.) With the sea breeze in our hair, this is the perfect hike to end the trip and reflect on a fascinating journey through Northern Ireland and England.
In the evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner together as a group.
Overview: After breakfast, we say our farewells and the tour draws to a close.
- Accommodation in twin en-suited room
- Breakfast daily
- Lunches and dinners as per itinerary
- Transport in private coach
- Services of an Odyssey Program Leader
- Comprehensive preparatory material
- Entrances as per itinerary
- Local expert guides
- Gratuities and service charges
- International airfares and taxes
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance
- Meals or activities not listed on the itinerary
- Items of personal nature