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In the North of Ireland I have two favourite treks, an old and a new – Lough Navar in County Fermanagh, and Errigal in County Donegal.
Best time to go
The ideal time to walk Errigal would definitely be in the summer or when there has been a stretch of dry weather, which of course isn’t often! It’s still a lovely hike regardless but the first section of it is extremely boggy even in dry weather so you can expect dirty boots and wet feet.
Lough Navar is beautiful in all seasons and always has something different to offer; in summer the lakes are surrounded by glorious greens and in winter, particularly if there’s snow, the views are spectacular.
This trek’s for you if…
Lough Navar is a local favourite for me and is a steep enough climb but a relatively short walk. The recommended time to get up is 2 hours, this is a bit of an overestimate; it takes me roughly 30 minutes to walk up at a good pace and the views over Fermanagh’s Loughs are well worth the effort. It is a well laid-out path after recently being done up with wide gravel and steps. Probably a 2 hour round trip up and down including time at the top to take in the scenes. I would recommend this walk to everyone – it is steep, but if you take your time it is very manageable. There is also the option to drive up through Lough Navar Forest if you really don’t fancy the walk, but either way the view isn’t one you’ll want to miss.
I would recommend Errigal to more seasoned hikers or casual walkers looking for a bit of a challenge. I’ve only done it the once but it was just so beautiful it had to be an immediate favourite for me. In terms of hiking it actually isn’t a very long walk, but the way up is very steep and a bit of a scramble in places. As mentioned before, the first section is mostly bogland, followed by a stoney path which heads up the face of the mountain at a solid gradient.
The footing is rough here and quite tricky to walk on in places but once you reach the ridge top the views are absolutely phenomenal; on a good day you can see at least 5 counties. All in all a 3.5-4 hour climb up and down. I would also recommend exploring more of Glenveagh National Park or out to Carrickfinn Beach afterwards if you have time.
Why it’s my favourite
Lough Navar is a favourite for me as it holds so many memories of walks with family and friends, and it’s also so accessible. The pay-off in terms of the beautiful views for the little amount of effort required to walk up is also what makes it so special. If they don’t have enough time/energy to do the classic Cuilcagh boardwalk I always bring visitors here to show them the beauty of Fermanagh.
Errigal is definitely a tough climb up but the views are really astounding and have to be seen to be believed – the pictures just don’t do it justice. I can’t wait to go and climb it again!
Wear good shoes, always bring a coat, and get out there and find your own favourites!
Photo credit goes to Rebecca’s sister Kathryn (Lough Navar) and Siobhan Kelly (profile photo).