Best Scenic Walks in Ireland near the Shannon and Erne Waterways

Walking is one of the best ways to explore an area. Rambling outside allows you to soak up the ambience of a place and get reacquainted with nature. Walking is also a great way to get some exercise and clear your head.

With serene scenery, friendly locals and well-marked hiking trails, Ireland is a wonderful walking destination. If you are on a Carrickcraft cruising holiday on the River Shannon or on Lough Erne, the surrounding areas are particularly beautiful to discover on foot. Trailheads are accessible and there are walking routes of various lengths and difficulty. You are sure to find a walk that you’ll enjoy.

So, what are you waiting for? It is time to moor up your boat and lace up your hiking boots. Put those sea legs on terra firma and get out walking in this waterway’s wonderland.

Looking for some inspiration? Here are some of the best walks around the Shannon and Erne. 

Walks Near Enniskillen and Lough Erne

Castle Caldwell - Co. Fermanagh - 1 to 4km

This is a peaceful, secluded spot with a choice of 3 short walks and nature trails, ranging from 1 to 4km.  The 16th century castle, now a ruin, is surrounded by the Forest Park, which is a sanctuary for wild birds and deer.  A walk around the woodlands is a must to experience the “get away from it all” feeling.  Don’t forget to look out for the Fiddle Stone at the entrance, in memory of a local fiddler who drowned in 1770.

Lough Navar Forest, Magho Cliffs Walk - Co. Fermanagh - 3km

Part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, the viewpoint from Lough Navar Forest offers unrivalled views across Lough Erne to the Donegal Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.  The walk from the jetty, up the Magho Cliffs is very steep, but the view makes is absolutely worthwhile.  The initial part of the walk takes you across the Magho Cliffs and you can then extend the walk by following the black markers along the cliff top path and down the cliff twisting and winding its way through the woodland with patches of open area providing great glimpses at the cliff escarpment. 

Crom Estate National Trust - Co. Fermanagh - 6.4km

Take a walk around one of Ireland’s most important conservation areas, with 2000 acres of woodland to explore.  There are a number of woodland walks and nature trails and the old farm buildings have been converted into a visitor centre and tea room.  Close to the visitor centre is the Old Crom Castle, while the newer castle, dating from the 19th century is still inhabited and not open to the public.  Take time to explore the area which takes you around the shoreline with points of interest such as the Boathouse, the Summerhouse and some ancient Yew trees.  

Walks Near Carrick-on-Shannon and Lough Allen

The Acres Lake Boardwalk Trail – Co. Leitrim - 6.5km

This peaceful, linear route follows the towpath along the Lough Allen Canal, linking the town of Drumshanbo with Battlebridge Lock near Leitrim Village. At 6.5km long, the gentle walk takes around 1.5 hours to complete and you pass through some serene scenery. Fancy walking on water? The route incorporates the beautiful 600-metre floating boardwalk sitting over the waters of Acres Lake Leitrim. This is a very pleasant place to relax and enjoy a picnic.

Lough Key Forest Park – Co. Roscommon - 3 to 4.2km

Lough Key Forest Park in Roscommon, in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands region, is the perfect place to reacquaint yourself with nature. There are four marked scenic walks, ranging from 3 to 4.2km, easy to moderate. There are also multi-access routes, which are suitable for less mobile users. Following the nature walks, you’ll wander through the native woodland, conifer forests, bog gardens and follies and along canals. Give yourself plenty of time as you’ll want to stop to admire the splendid views too.

Derrycarne Wood – Co. Leitrim - 2.5km

Derrycarne is a woodland area by the shores of Lough Boderg just north of Dromod village. It is one of many beautifully tranquil walks in Leitrim. Nature lovers will enjoy this 2.5km lakeside and forest walk as you can spot all kinds of birds and wildlife as you stroll amongst the beech, oak and conifer trees. In the woods, you’ll find a pleasant picnic area where you can relax and watch the boats go by.

The Leitrim Way – Co. Leitrim - 25km

There are loads of hiking trails in Leitrim. But, if you really want to stretch your legs, the 25km Leitrim Way is the walk for you. This forms a stage of the Beara-Breifne Way, the longest walking trail in Ireland. Following the canal bank along old and new pathways, this trail links Leitrim Village to Drumshanbo. Whilst walking you will be immersed in the landscape of verdant fields, tranquil waterways and lough shores. Along the way, stop off in the Sliabh an Iarainn Visitor Centre in Drumshanbo and discover the heritage of the land through which you are roaming.

The Miners Way and Historical Trail – Co. Roscommon - 118km

The 118km Miners Way and Historical Trail forms part of the 500km Beara-Breifne Way. It usually takes about five days to complete the whole walk. The trail starts and ends in Arigna, County Roscommon, and snakes around this incredibly interesting and scenic area. Arigna was once a bustling coal-mining village and is now home to Ireland’s first coal mine museum. The route takes you across tarmacked roads, forestry paths and cuts through fields and soggy moorland. On your way, you’ll have beautiful panoramic vistas of the surrounding valleys and mountains, Lough Allen and Sliabh an Iarainn (The Iron Mountain). This is one of the best walks in Roscommon to experience the true essence of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands region.

Walks Near Athlone Around Lough Ree

Lough Ree Park Walking Trail - Co. Westmeath

Lough Ree is the second largest lake on the River Shannon so, as you can imagine, there are plenty of lakeshore walks and trails to enjoy. Being a designated Special Area of Conservation and, because of its migratory waterfowl, a Special Protection Area too, makes this a wonderful walk for wildlife lovers. The Lough Ree Park Walking Trail was designed especially for those with limited mobility. It combines shoreline and woodland and is a great place for families as there are plenty of things to entertain the little ones including a playground and informative nature boards.

The Connaught Walk - Co. Westmeath - 3km

The 3km Connaught Walk is a great way to uncover the history of Athlone. Starting in Athlone town, you’ll pass many points of interest along the way. Highlights include Athlone Castle, the Church of St. Peter and Paul with its stunning stained-glass windows, the Costume Barracks, built in 1691, and the Athlone Boat Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in Ireland. You’ll also take in the memorial to Count John McCormack, the world-famous tenor.

Portlick Millennium Forest Walk - Co. Westmeath - 5km

The Millennium Forest is located in Portlick, on the eastern shore of Lough Ree, 8km north of Athlone. The Forest Walk is a gentle 5km ramble through the native ash and hazel woodland. The forest floor is carpeted with a whole array of flora including woodrush, bluebell, primrose, wood sorrel and violet. It is a magnificent sight during the spring months when everything begins to bloom. Walks near Athlone don’t get much prettier than this.

Cloonlarge Loop – Co. Roscommon - 6.4km


Nature walks are a great way of keeping the little ones entertained. As you meander along this 6.4km lopped walk you’ll discover the flora and fauna of the peatland. Once an old bog road, the walking trail in Kilteevan, County Roscommon, is peppered with plenty of information boards and quirky wooden carvings. At the information points, you’ll learn about the birds, insects, butterflies and other species that call the bog home. With so much to look out for, this is a great family-friendly walk.

Walks Near Killaloe on Lough Derg

Garrykennedy Forest – Co. Tipperary

The beautiful Garrykennedy Forest in County Tipperary is a fantastic area for some family fun. There are plenty of trails around the native woodlands and lakeshore. As you ramble, you can admire the wooden sculptures and have a rest in the seats made from chopped down trees. You access the trailhead in Garrykennedy village, which has some terrific old-fashioned country pubs. The village makes for a wonderful stop post-walk for refreshments and refueling.

Graves of the Leinstermen – Co. Tipperary - 5.6km

Looking for one of the most scenic hill walks in Tipperary? Then lace up your hiking boots and tackle the Graves of the Leinstermen looped walk. This 5.6km route, which starts near to Portroe, ascends 459 metres up Tountinna, the highest point on the Arra Mountains. At the top, your effort is rewarded with extensive views of the whole Lough Derg Valley. It was on this hill around 1,000AD that the King of Leinster and his men were slain. Their bodies buried beneath the ancient standing stones. Today, just one stone remains, undergrowth covers the rest.

Millennium Cross Walk – Co. Tipperary - 3.1km

Located on Cloneybrien Hill near Portroe, outside Nenagh, is a huge stainless-steel cross which was erected in 2002 to mark the millennium of Portroe. The walk to the cross is 3.1km, along a rough track which cuts through open bogland. The walk is gentle and dogs are permitted. When you reach the millennium cross there is a small bench and far-reaching views of over Lough Derg and its hinterland.

Ballycuggaran – Co. Clare - 7.2km

Ballycuggaran, some 3km from Killaloe, has three way-marked walking trails through its woods. If you are feeling active, one of the best hikes is the strenuous 7.2km Crag Wood Walk, which starts and finishes in the Crag Wood entrance car park. For the best views, follow the route anti-clockwise. You’ll walk along forest road and tracks and hike through some impressive oak woods. When you reach the summit there are sweeping views of Lough Derg and the surrounding bucolic landscape.

Portumna Forest Park – Co. Galway

Situated on the north shore of Lough Derg, in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, you’ll find Portumna Forest Park. This is a wonderful area for a day out with the family as there is so much to see and do. There are four park walks which take you into the forest, where you have a great chance of seeing red squirrels and fallow deer. You might even spy a fox or badger. If you are really lucky you might catch a glimpse of the White Tailed Sea Eagle from the bird hide. Throughout the park, there are plenty of picnic benches, viewing platforms and heritage sites to enjoy. It really is one of the best Lough Derg walks for families.

As you can see, there are some wonderful walks to enjoy in the Midlands of Ireland, in and around the River Shannon. Navigating the walkways and waterways truly is a unique way to explore Ireland. If you want to enjoy the best of both (boat?) worlds, book a River Shannon cruising holiday with Carrickcraft today.