So far, we’ve given you the top five walks around Gorey and the top five walks around Enniscorthy…
In this article, our attention now turns to Wexford town and its surrounding areas.
No 5: Wexford town
A walk around Wexford town centre itself is a really cool walk to do. Our county capital is full of sights and sounds. At the weekend, the atmosphere in Wexford town can be electric, with the hustle and bustle bringing a real smile to your face. I would usually pick a simple route to follow if was in town for a leisurely stroll. Parking near the Arc Cinema, I walk onto Redmond square which is a lovely little park beside the train station. Continue onto the quays which is a fantastic local amenity.
Walking by the boats is really cool, and sometimes, you might see one in action on the river. I walk onto the boardwalk taking in the sights of the Crescent Quay to the right and the Commodore Barry Statue. Taking the right turn on King street at the John Barry bar and then the next major right you’ll be onto South Main Street.
There are some lovely shops and pubs/cafes to check out all along the Thoroughfare. Continuing dead ahead on the same street you will come onto North Main street and again the shops and pubs/cafes are really tempting. A quick glance inside St.Iberius’s Church is recommended as is a gander at some lovely arts and crafts in the Bullring market nearby.
Bullring square is a lovely little historical square complete with the 1798 pikeman and outdoor seating in summertime. Continue on, on North Main street and then its continuation Selskar street. Here, you will come across Selskar square with the very impressive Nicky Rackard statue. Again the whole street is lined with cafés and fantastic shops to have a look around.
At the end of the street, head left and up to the Westgate tower, a fine Norman tower gatehouse that has been lovingly restored. You can also peer into St. Selskar’s Church tower and ruins nearby. You can walk alongside the Wexford town Norman wall on the far side of Westgate and then onto Abbey street taking in Cornmarket and the gorgeous Market house before ambling onto Mallin Street past the beautiful new library and then on past the Opera house. You will shortly come across the pretty little medieval church St.Patrick’s at the end of High Street. Travel onto the small lane and then up onto Peter’s square with its cute bandstand and then onto Clifford street where Bride street church, one of the twin churches, can be seen in all its splendour.
Come back on yourself and walk straight along this street taking in the Franciscan Friary, Rowe Street Church, the other twin and John street graveyard. You can then latch onto George’s street after a while and heading downhill you will find Selskar street and then heading left you will find Redmond Square and back home. It’s a lovely walk; it’s not your beach/forest walk, but it’s a nice one all the same with the senses stirred by the differing going’s on in Wexford town.
No 4: Ballyteige Burrow, Kilmore Quay
Ballyteigue Burrow beside Kilmore Quay is a fantastic beach to walk at any time of the year. A walk along the burrow, by the shores of the Celtic Sea, is a great way to relax and unwind on a sunny weekend.
The Beach stretches over 8 kilometres into the distance only ending at the river beside Cullenstown beach. The adventurous will do the full 8 kilometres, but those of you out for a Sunday stroll can have a lazy sun-kissed walk for as long as you want.
The beach has beautiful fine sand, but it’s easy to walk near the more hardened sands of the immediate shore. If you have the kids in summer, it’s great for a swim. The sea waters are like nothing I have seen in Wexford, the water is so perfectly clear and turquoise, while sandcastle building is of course welcome too.
The views out to sea and the majestic Saltee Islands are fantastic. In winter, the beach is great for a me-time walk, with hardly anyone to bother you on this amazing stretch of South Wexford coastline. The beach is probably the biggest on our south coast, so you have plenty of space for yourself or your family.
Parking is available beside the beach at the edge of Kilmore Quay village. The car park is to be found by simply throwing in Kilmore Beach on Google Maps.
No 3: Ballineskar Beach
Ballineskar Beach is the less know neighbour of Curracloe beach, but perhaps should be a lot more famous in locals given Ballineskar is better known in Hollywood circles – and yes, that is Hollywood pictures in the USA.
Although many in a pub quiz may write down the words “Curracloe beach” when answering the question “Where was the opening beach scene for Saving Private Ryan filmed,” it was in fact its neighbour. If you walk onto Ballineskar beach and then to the left you will come across a lovely expanse of wide-open beach and also large cliffs and dunes beside the beach. Looking at Curracloe, you will realise they are very small and too small for the film’s opening scene.
Back in the mid to late 1990s, Steven Spielberg set out on a mission to find the perfect beach in Britain or Ireland to film the opening scene of the soon to become a blockbuster movie.
He of course could not film at the actually Normandy D-day beaches and thus, he ventured to hundreds of beaches in Britain and Ireland looking for one, one that would replicate the Normandy beaches. Searching and searching to no avail he eventually stumbled across Ballineskar.
Spielberg had found the beach he had dreamed of for the movie. Ballineskar on its own is a glorious beach. Its vast and wide sweep of beautiful golden sand is very attractive to those out for a quiet walk or those escaping the summer throngs of people on the beaches. The vast scale of the beach is what hits you first; it is just unreal. The family dog or the kids will love their little adventures on this massive playground.
Ballineskar forms part of a largely continuous group of beaches from Cahore to Raven Point. There is plenty of sand for long walks on Ballineskar itself or other beaches to the North and South if you want to. The waters are lovely to swim in, in the summer also. Ballineskar beach can be found by entering the Ballineskarbeach car park on Google Maps.
No. 2: Raven Forest and Curracloe Beach
The Raven Forest is a fantastic outdoor amenity for locals and visitors only approximately 10-15 minutes outside Wexford town. The forest is a long stretch of mainly pine forest that stretches for about 3 and a half kilometres from North to South.
The forest is a gorgeous retreat from the chaos of our daily lives. The pines of the Raven forest are home to one of the country’s cutest but shyest native animal species the Red Squirrell. The Red is unfortunately rarely seen and has really struggled to compete against the non-native Grey Squirrell who carry diseases not known to the Red Squirrell and is also a less fussy eater.
However, there’s a haven in the Raven as this forest is home to one of Ireland’s largest populations of the native Red Squirrels. The Forest itself is gorgeous, with really stunning native pine trees and mostly Corsican pines both of which shine out in the South-East’s glorious sunny days.
As I said, the Forest path is on a North-south line, nearing the southernmost section of the path you will turn left or east. Please note that you should not walk to the southernmost edge of the forest as the sands beside the Slaney estuary are very dangerous soft sands.
You can keep on the track and do a quick loop onto the trail you ventured south on or you can travel directly east on a smaller trail and Beach.
As well known in the area Curracloe beach is one of our best beaches and you will be sure to enjoy the fabulous walk up the beach on lovely sands, listening to the relaxing crashing of the waves beside you. To exit the beach, you will see a large entranceway onto the beach at the end of the beachside forest. Raven Forest Car Park can be found by entering ‘the Raven Car Park’ into Google Maps.
No. 1: Three Rocks Trail, Forth Mountain
In the last couple of years, Forth Mountain has exploded onto the scene as a great destination for incredible walks close to Wexford town. This is mainly thanks to the Barntown Heritage group and its regenerated Three Rocks Trails.
The whole trail is very long stretching from Ferrycarraig castle, through into Barntown Village, onto Carraigfoyle lake, onto Pennylands Car Park, and finishing up at Skeaterpark trailhead on the Newline road near the Dirr.
I walked the whole route from Ferrycarraig to Skeaterpark and back to the Ferrycarraig Castle car park last summer in about seven hours on the bike although I did take many breaks and lunched as well.
However, walking from end to end might take you a hell of a long time, even with two cars placed at either end of the trail. I would recommend picking a 5-kilometre round walk on Forth Mountain itself at any point.
I love the area to the east of the Forth Mountain summit. Usually, I would park up at Pennylands car park cross the road and walk west to Jim Furlong’s cottage (There are greatly helpful signposts pointing you to the major sites and beauty spots along the trails).
Walk along the trail until you come to the signpost at a crossroads junction in the forest paths. Head left for the cottage. In a few moments, you will be walking through a really nice and cute part of the forest, especially for kids. This section contains little doors and craft pieces and painted hurls by local kids and creates a magical fairy house atmosphere in this part of the forest.
Continuing out of the woods you will spot Jim Furlong’s house an amazing community project which aims to fully restore this lovely little Irish vernacular cottage to its full glory. It’s so amazing to see the work being done by locals. In July and August, you can pick my favourite Froachan or Bilberries to make into muffins and gin on nearby bushes.
Heading for Skeater rock next once you climb the small rock, you will realise the small traverse was worth it. Stunning views across the striking South Wexford coastline from Rosslare Harbour, along with the Saltee Islands and towards the Hook peninsula unfold before your eyes. This is one of the highlight vistas on the three rocks trail and it is truly beautiful.
Following this head right, into the forest area and then onto the main path until you hit a bigger path at a sort of crossroads, turn right here and follow it back to pennylands using local signs to make your way.
Once you get back to the car park and if you feel up to it you can travel along the trail going the other way. This is flanked by a pristine forest with beautiful pines and other trees. Be sure to take a right and the next junction at the forest clearing and follow the trail again with lovely pines and more evergreens on your right. You will have lovely views of the Blackstairs to your left.
Follow the main path until you head down the middle of an enclosed part of the forest, then a clearing with a gorgeous field on your right. Another enclosed part of the forest will greet you again and then again another clearance.
You will encounter the huge rocky outcrop or Tor in the form of Drooping Rock. This is a very scenic and photogenic part of the trail. I think this is the perfect spot for a picnic and then a return to your car after a really fantastic walk. Pennylands car park can be found by throwing ‘Forth Mountain hike’, into google maps.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming ‘five walks around New Ross’ article.
By Byron Jones
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