Dublin and Le­in­ster

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - ART & MUSIC -

The West

Hik­ing-guide au­thor He­len Fair­bairn says win­ter is one of her favourite times for Ir­ish walk­ing. Ig­nore the grey, wet days, and head out when­ever the sun shines. Noth­ing can beat stand­ing on a snowy sum­mit in clear, crisp con­di­tions, when the po­lar air makes the views ex­tend for­ever.

Cold weather ex­cur­sions are more in­vig­o­rat­ing than warm ones, she claims, and the post-trip treat of hearty food and cosy fire is one life’s great plea­sures.

He­len’s skills ex­tend to ba­sic moun­taineer­ing, and she has tack­led some of Ire­land’s most renowned moun­tain ridges in win­ter con­di­tions. She says not all out­ings have to be epic moun­tain chal­lenges how­ever; win­ter can bring just as much beauty to a wood­land stream, when frost crys­tallises along the veins of leaves and forms mini ici­cles along the edge of a wa­ter­fall.

If you need any ex­tra en­cour­age­ment to keep ac­tive this win­ter, He­len’s walk­ing guides — which in­clude Dublin & Wick­low: A Walk­ing Guide and Ire­land’s Best Walks — are a great place to start. David Flana­gan is a keen hiker, climber and cy­clist who is lucky enough to be able to com­bine his pas­sion for the out­doors with his work as a writer and pub­lisher.

Ever since his in­tro­duc­tion to hik­ing as a cub scout he has en­joyed get­ting out in the hills par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the cold, crisp win­ter days. One of his most mem­o­rable win­ter walks was tack­ling the le­gendary Ban­gor Trail in late Novem­ber. The trail, which runs through the heart of the Nephin Wilder­ness in Co Mayo, is one of the re­motest walks in the coun­try and do­ing it over two short days in cold weather made a tough chal­lenge all the more mem­o­rable. Flana­gan, co-au­thor of the first guide­book to the Wild At­lantic Way, Ex­plor­ing Ire­land’s Wild At­lantic Way, is cur­rently work­ing on a guide to the best of Ir­ish cy­cling, due out in spring 2018.

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