Trails of South Wexford
by Deirdre O’Flynn
Deirdre O’Flynn loves walking, writing, and photography – so she has combined all three into a blog, AMindfulWalker.com. Here, she highlights three of her favourite places to walk across the south of County Wexford.
South Wexford is a treasure trove of walking trails. From sweeping gardens to long stretches of golden sand, from forest trails to shorter treks, you will be able to walk the walk here. And if you are interested in crafts or cycling, history, heritage or gardening, Wexford Trails showcase the county’s highlights! Let Wexford unveil its secret Celtic Routes and tell the stories of a rich and varied history in the cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East.
(c) Deirdre O’Flynn, AMindfulWalker.com
Raven Point Wood
If you like to combine woodland and the coast on your walks, then you must visit Raven Point Wood at Curracloe in Co Wexford.
Home to mostly Corsican pine trees, the woodland looped walk will take about 1.5 hours to complete the almost 7km trail. It’s an easy trail to manage and you’ll see plenty of families pushing curious kids in buggies, and plenty of joggers too. And if you fancy pausing to listen to the birds or to see if you can spot a red squirrel, there are plenty of benches along the way.
For me, the big selling point is the magnificent blue-flag Curracloe Beach to the east. You can access the beach at regular intervals along the walk, making it as long or short as you want on a given day.
The beach stretches from the Special Area of Conservation Nature Reserve at Raven Point to Ballyconniger Head – a cool 10 miles if you’re feeling up to it! Along the way is Ballinesker Beach, forever immortalised in the D-Day landings in Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film, “Saving Private Ryan”.
To the west of the woodland, which was planted in the 1800s, lie the North Slobs. This is an important ecological habitat as it is home to a wild goose population in winter. By all accounts, the sight of the geese flying out at twilight from the Slobs to roost on the sand at Wexford harbour is impressive.
So, between the shade of the woodland and the bright blue sea, the sandy dunes and the sunny South East – go no further! Add this walk to your bucket list, you won’t regret it!
(c) Deirdre O’Flynn, AMindfulWalker.com
Ballyhealy Beach on The Norman Way
When you’re in Wexford, a walk on a beach is a must! And, with a coastline as vast as the one in the Model County, you will always find a quiet stretch that is just yours.
Ballyhealy Beach, east of Kilmore Quay, is one such oasis of calm coastline, its wide sandy beach stretching for miles. It’s popular year round with swimmers, anglers and walkers, and there’s room for everyone.
With fabulous views of the Wexford coastline east and west, you’ll also be able to see the Saltee Islands. These are breeding grounds for puffin, gannet, and grey seal, to name just a few, and their presence, just 5km from the shore, breaks up the horizon.
On a clear sunny day, watch the sun glistening on the waves. Like diamonds, the tips of the waves glitter as the sun watches us marvel at Mother Nature. We were treated to a light show like I’ve never seen before!
As with most of Wexford, this area is steeped in history. Particulalry evident in this corner is the Norman influence. This is signposted on The Norman Way, a heritage route along the southern coast of Wexford. The nearby Ballyhealy Castle dates from the 15th Century and is just one example of the historical sites that dot the landscape from Rosslare across to New Ross. More sites of interest can be found on Wexford Heritage Trail
John F Kennedy Memorial Park & Arboretum
The Kennedy surname is synonymous with Wexford and its most famous bearer of the name, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States from 1960 to 1963, is remembered here.
The Arboretum is easily navigated, with looped walks on firm surfaces, so you can easily appreciate some of the 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all over the world. The park itself 252 hectares and there are 200 forest plots, grouped by continent – so pace yourself! All those trees are great to hide under on the wet day – so this an ideal location for our changeable climate!
Along the way, you’ll spot rhododendrons (there are 50 different types here, apparently), roses, foxgloves, azaleas, hydrangeas, heathers and loads more. The gardener in your family will love these and the photography enthusiast will be immediately drawn to the blaze of colour from the flowers and foliage.
Learn about the life and achievements of President Kennedy in the Visitor Centre and grab that all-important cuppa in the tearooms. Better still, there’s a play area for the kids, so peace can be secured for even a brief spell!
One last word…
South Wexford unveils itself slowly – the sand will soothe your soul, the coastline will calm you. The woodland trees will wait for you and the wildlife will leave you alone! Choose a walk that suits your interests and fitness, wear comfortable footwear, and leave no trace behind. Make Wexford your own hidden gem!