Hillwalking in Ireland: Hillwalk Tours

How did Hillwalk Tours get started?

Hillwalk Tours founder James Byrne. Photo courtesy of Hillwalk Tours.

Our founder, James Byrne, set the company up from his bedroom back in 2008.

Motivated by the simple idea of helping people to reconnect with the great outdoors, he set out hiking the incredible walking trails that Ireland has to offer.

He arranged the first tour on a laptop from his bedroom in March 2009 (The Beara Way, still on offer today).

Hillwalk Tours has since gone on to provide amazing hiking experiences for more than 25,000 happy customers.

Describe the kinds of hill walking tours that you offer. How much can budget-conscious travelers expect to pay for a tour?

Hillwalking in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Hillwalk Tours Facebook.

We offer self-guided hiking tours in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, and on the Camino Frances in Spain, with tours starting from as little as €299 per person.

Are they suitable for all ages and physical abilities?

Our itineraries are graded from gentle, moderate, and challenging in difficulty – so there’s usually something for walkers of every fitness level.

a man standing on a rock overlooking the ocean Hillwalk Tours
Hill walking on The Dingle Way. Photo courtesy of Hillwalk Tours Facebook.

Each itinerary on our website lists the hiking distance that will be covered each day, so customers can typically gauge their own level of fitness against the distances to be covered.

I see that the primary purpose of your hill walking tours is to “make people happy.” How do you achieve this?

Providing experiences that make people happy is core to our work ethos at Hillwalk Tours.

This comes into every aspect of what we do and even extends to our team members.

We take the hassle out of your hiking tour, arranging all transfers and accommodation and even providing a multilingual support service to our walkers when they are on the trail.

We always aim to use the highest quality accommodation options available on each trail and we also try to keep our own hand-written route notes as up-to-date as possible (in most cases we are usually well ahead of off-the-shelf guide books in terms of route directions and updates).

What is it about hill walking or hiking that makes a vacation to Ireland different from say, renting a car or taking a tour bus?

Walking the trails allows you to take a much closer look at the landscape and culture of Ireland in a way that no car drive or bus tour can manage.

A snap of Ardnakinna Lighthouse along the Beara Way taken by a Hillwalk Tour walker. Photo courtesy of Hillwalk Tours Facebook.

Our tours allow you to immerse yourself in the local history, mythology, and culture in a truly authentic way – without having to plan your own itinerary.

It also allows you to get to know the local people through the general “chit chat” with landowners as you pass by or through evening conversations with the accommodation hosts who have often lived there all their lives.

You can make real and authentic human connections with people who know the land and the area like the back of their hand – something you simply don’t get by driving or taking a bus tour.

Sustainability is becoming more and more important in the tourism industry. Is that something that Hillwalk Tours incorporates into its tours?

Sustainability is key to how we operate.

From using fully recyclable materials in our walking packs (which we aim to make 100% digital in the next year) through to working almost 100% remotely thus reducing carbon emissions, it’s very much at the core of the decisions we make as a company.

a brochure containing pencils near a cliff Hillwalk Tours
Hillwalk Tours provides the Sprout Pencil in its walking packs. This special pencil can be planted after use. After adding water and sunlight, the seeds in the pencil will sprout after 7 to 12 days. Photo courtesy of Hillwalk Tours Facebook.

In addition, we wholeheartedly support the “Leave No Trace” ethos and encourage our walkers to join us in this, and we also provide travel information on how walkers can get to these destinations in a more sustainable way.

I see that you also offer tours beyond Ireland, including in the U.K. and Spain. Are they similar to your Ireland hill walking experiences?

Similar in the sense that you will be well looked after by our team and the accommodation providers that we partner with!

people walking along a road Hillwalk Tours
Hillwalk Tours customers on a walking tour of the Camino Frances in Spain. Photo courtesy of Hillwalk Tours Facebook.

But each country provides its own unique culture and landscape.

For example – Scotland is amazing for its mountainous terrains, England is a treasure trove of history, Wales is a magical land of myth, and the Camino Frances in Spain is a bucket-list pilgrimage for many walkers

How can Ireland on a Budget followers find out more about your tours to Ireland, the U.K., and Europe?

Our website, www.hillwalktours.com, is typically the best place to find information about our tours.

But Ireland on a Budget followers can also find us on their usual favorite social media channel and engage with us that way or subscribe to our newsletter (which they can sign up for on our website) too.

We’re always happy to help in whatever way or form that we can.

If you want to get an additional discount courtesy of the company's partnership with Ireland on a Budget, be sure to subscribe to the Ireland on a Budget email list.