Continuing our journey around Ireland, this time we will explore some great places to take your dog in the beautiful southern county of Waterford. This country offers a fabulous variation of landscapes and sights for you and your dog to fall in love with and your pooch will definitely want to come back again. Let’s get started…
Ardmore Cliff Walk – 5km
The stunning coastal scenery of the Ardmore cliff walk will make anyone fall in love with Ireland all over again. Your dog will find the varied landscapes and sea breeze amazing and will surely be wagging his tail to come back again soon.
Starting from Ardmore village, you move from the edge of the sandy beach along the road, and as the shops and tarmac fall away behind you, you encounter Declan’s hermitage, a monastic settlement dating back to the 5th century that houses St. Declan’s well, the water in which is supposed to have curative powers.
The trail now enters woodland and moves gradually up Ardmore head, if you look down into the water below, you will see the shipwrecked Samson, a crane shipped being towed from Liverpool to Malta in 1987 that was hit with a strong gale that broke the tow and the ship ended up wrecked on the rocks beneath Ardmore head.
Continuing on the cliffs to Ram’s head, you see an observation tower erected in 1939 to keep watch on all ships of supplies sent from the United States to Bristol along this route just south of Ireland during WWII. A few miles out to sea there are also wrecks from the First World War including the Folia, a Cunard Liner torpedoed by the Germans in these waters, which went down with 28 lives lost.
Leaving the cliffs and looping back towards the village, the final landmark you encounter is actually the most recognizable in all of Ardmore, the round tower. Built in the 12th century, it was one of the last round towers built in Ireland, and is remarkably well preserved to this day. Standing at almost 100 feet tall, it lies beside St. Declan’s cathedral, established as the center of his monastery some 800 years before the construction of the tower itself around the year 400 A.D.
The history of this trail is something special and although your dog will just be enjoying the moment, you can reflect on the rich past this trail has to offer as you make your way back to Ardmore Village.
Comeragh Gap Walk – 6km
The Comeragh gap walk has a slightly macabre nickname – ’The funeral road’ due to its past use as a trail through the Comeragh Mountains used to carry the dead from the settlements in the Nire valley to the nearest cemetery, at Rathgormack. Up until the 1920’s this was the only way to carry the dead from the Comeragh Mountains for a funeral and burial at the nearest church almost 6 miles away.
Nowadays, it is still used as a walking trail, a relatively easy walk steeped in history with stunning views of the mountains and on a summer’s day you will be surrounded by lush purple heather growing in the valley. This is quite a remote part of the mountains and you and your dog can enjoy the peaceful serenity brought to you by a place like this so far from cities polluted and overcrowded with tourists in the high season.
Beginning at the car park in the Nire valley, the path is marked with green way-points through the mountains and it is a straight walk to the gap itself, along the way the falling clouds formed by the difference in temperature between the sea and the mountainsides will form a breathtaking sight along with the constant movement of sunlight in the surrounding fields and grasslands.
Along the way you will see a boulder on the Nire side of the walk called the ‘rock of the body’ where the funeral procession would stop for a rest and lay the body on the boulder, and tell stories about the deceased person while having a whiskey and a cigarette in their memory.
This being a straight walk, once you reach the gap you can turn back and make your way back to the car park you came from, or if your dog is still looking spritely you can turn left and take the Coumduala loop and ascend up a ridge to see a beautiful glacial lake situated deep in the side of the mountain. This part is a little bit steep so don’t attempt it if your dog seems tired or is a little bit older and unable to manage.
Tramore Beach Walk – 5km
Tramore Bay is home to some of the highest sand dunes in Ireland, and this part of Waterford is one of the most popular with tourists from all over Ireland and internationally as well. The waters here can conjure up some fierce waves and that has led to the establishment of a surfers club called Ardmore Adventures.
The trail along the sandy peninsula begins at the car park facing the Majestic Hotel and brings you along the promenade to the beachhead, with stunning views of Ardmore town and the blue lagoon of Ardmore Bay below. The dunes here have been developing for over 5,000 years and are undergoing constant change as the sea and wind take their toll, however the marram grass slows down the effects of erosion.
Just behind the dunes there is a salt marsh that is home to a wide variety of wildlife, especially birds, at the back of the dunes you will find the ‘backstrand’, at low tide many birds wade into the water and feed on morsels left exposed by the turning of the tide, but don’t let your dog get too far out into the water here, the currents are known to be unpredictable and dangerous.
Coming back along the loop you can find your way back to the town and the wonderful views of Tramore bay, be sure to check out the cool shops back in the seaside town, maybe even get a little treat for your dog for coming along with you!
Colligan Wood – Greenane loop – 8km
What a beautiful place to take your dog this summer, Colligan wood is just north of Dungarvan on the road to Clonmel, and the name Colligan comes from the Irish word Cuilligeáin – meaning hazel abounding place.
The Colligan River flows through the tranquil woodland of the valley and as you move along this trail the unmistakable rush of water is audible between the birds and other wildlife calling out around you. The river enters the sea at Dungarvan Bay and the harbor itself becomes visible as you ascend up the side of the valley.
The trail begins at the footbridge crossing the Colligan River and moves north parallel to the water up the tarmac path, you then climb gradually up into the forest along a trail and see the expansive views of the farmland below and even the coastline in the distance.
Your dog will find the gradual climb a breeze and as you continue along the loop, now elevated but along the river’s path, you begin to descend and cross back over the water at Colligan bridge and make your way back to the starting point.
The woodland itself is a mixture of beautiful hazel, tall conifers and other broadleaved ferns, the area even retains some remnants of the old woodland oaks, and sections are protected forest by Coillte. The river is a salmon spawning river and trout are also regularly seen swimming in it, your dog can also get acquainted with red squirrels, rabbits and even fallow deer that call this forest home. On an early weekend morning in summer, this trail offers a real feast for the senses for both of you.
Tramore Sli na Slainte – 5km
The Tramore Sli starts on church road and follows the coastline past the Tramore strand and follows the Doneraile walk, taking in the sights of Tramore promenade and in the summer months, the amusements park erected for tourists coming to Tramore from all across Ireland.
This trail has a distinct maritime feel to it, which is understandable given Tramore’s rich history and character for seafaring and fishing. As you walk along the cliff head overlooking the entrance to Tramore Bay, you will see a memorial stone to commemorate the victims of the Sea Horse Tragedy in 1816.
The Sea Horse was a ship carrying soldiers, who had just tasted victory over Napoleon’s Grand Army at the battle of Waterloo, and their families from Ramsgate in Kent to Cork, when it was caught in a gale and was wrecked, with the loss of 292 men and 71 women and children.
Near The Cove, beware the spirits that surround the Haunted Well at the foot of the steps, and turn left towards the ramps that meander up to Cliff Road, which runs parallel to the cliffs until it reaches the Guillameen, where you can see the 18-metre high pillars, with the famous Metal Man atop one of them.
Your dog will love getting acquainted with the Metal Man, a metal statue erected in 1823 of a man with his arm outstretched to warn sailors and fishermen of the dangerous waters in Tramore bay. Legend says that if a woman can hop barefoot around the base of the Metal Man three times, she will be married within the year.
From there you can continue into the woodland until you reach Cliff Road again, where you take a right at the next T-junction and descend down Newtown Hill onto church road and back towards Tramore village from where you began.
So there’s some more great ideas for places to take your dog walking this summer, I hope you enjoyed this trip through beautiful Waterford. Next up in our trip around Ireland is County Wexford. See you there!
Last time: Wicklow
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