I must admit that I’ve no problem with winter. In fact, I’m a fan. I kind of think it suits a place like the West of Ireland.

Rather than grumble about the summer showers (of which, by the way, there were precious few during 2014), the rain of wintertime just feels right. It belongs. It fits.

The bogs gorge on water, so we can enjoy trudging through them during the colder months. Our medium-height mountains treat us to a few days snow cover now and then, through which we can crackle with the wide-eyed delight of a child. Down by the sea, the wind-blown waves of winter roll and jump and spray and crash, to remind us that we are not in control.

Winter hiking on Nephin

Nephin mountain in Winter

Winter walking means more layers and thicker socks, perhaps, but it also heralds that strange but pleasant sensation of cold lips, raw cheek bones and stinging ears. Trampling the crispy layer of icy frost on early morning grass is a special little thrill not to be missed. Don’t forget your gloves, now. Heck, I might even bring along a pole the odd time.

For me, winter already kicked off back in September, with the first Hen Harrier surveying of the season, Seal pups way out west and the long hike into Red Deer rut country. Just to listen, in awe. Later, I will go in search of spawning Salmon, then spawning Frogs. Before I know it, it will once again be springtime and time for the Snowdrops. Around and around she goes; where she stops, nobody knows…

Winter Weather

Do not go out hiking during wintertime if you are unprepared. West of Ireland weather can change rapidly, even during the height of summer. Much more so during winter. Read my hiking advice for the West of Ireland.

In winter, as at all times of the year, never plan to get home just before dark. That rarely works out. Give yourself plenty of leeway when heading out into the hills or even when rambling at low level. You will get delayed and walking in the dark is to be avoided. Check the weather forecast through, for example, these services :

Met Éireann for Connacht

YR (Norwegian service)


And know when sunrise and sunset times are.