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Boots & B&Bs

Going to Ireland at the end of May for 10 days (and nights!). Two questions:

1) My research suggests that hiking boots are important at certain sights. I need a new pair anyway, so what criteria are a must? Any brand or style recommendations (women's)? We don't plan to do any serious hiking, but if anyone is likely to sprain an ankle, it's me, so I definitely need boots designed for the activity.

2) When my husband and I travel, we travel hard! I am looking for suggestions for reasonably priced B&Bs along the way (under $180/night, and no more than twice that in Dublin). I prefer "authentic" accommodations to luxury or hotel chains, but I am not opposed to one night in a fancy castle hotel (up to $1,000, provided we get good deals at our other stops), so long as it has substantial history (not one of those newer buildings made to look old). Our itinerary:

  • 2 nights in or near Dublin
  • 2 nights in Kilkenny
  • 3 nights in Killarney (but staying with family friends)
  • 1 night near Galway
  • 1-2 nights in County Mayo (this is where my grandfather was from, so I hope to connect with his family or community)
  • should we plan to stay 1 night near the Dublin airport for our flight out?

Thank you in advance for your input!

Posted by
5011 posts

I'd worry about keeping my feet dry 100X more than I'd worry about twisting an ankle.

Get hiking boots that are waterproof (not just "water resistant" which is useless) - you want something with the foot pocket made from Goretex. There's few things more miserable than going through days and days with wet feet (and once your boots get wet on the inside, that's how they're going to stay for a while). In many places (including Ireland, but a million others too), it's easy (and common) to inadvertently stop in a puddle, or even just get your boots wet from walking in wet grass; when that happens, it's critical that the water stays out 100%. Truly waterproof boots with Goretex can be spendy but they are absolutely worth it.

Posted by
4412 posts

I'm with David on the shoe front, true waterproof shoes are essential. Gore-tex is the tried and tested material that'll keep youf feet dry. My North Face shoes and boots have never let me down with daily dog walking in very wet conditions and they come with the benefit of being designed for hiking, the boots offering more ankle support.

I have tried cheaper brands but they were useless. Berghaus and Merrell come recommended but I haven't tried them as North Face hasn't let me down (in fact I'm a walking North Face advert when walking the dog, clad head to toe in the brand because it does its job and does it well). The old adage, "you get what you pay for" is very true when it comes to proper waterproof clothing.

Posted by
686 posts

We did two weeks in Ireland with no boots. Agree with David that waterproof is more important or at least a change of shoes. If you do want boots then vibram (anti slip) soles are useful. I have a pair of Dansko Paxton that have good ankle support, vibram soles and are comfortable. Breaking them in now for a trip later this year to Switzerland.

Posted by
274 posts

Regarding lodging I can recommend Mena House B&B in Kilkenny. Lovely old home with modern touches in the rooms and bathrooms. Nice breakfast buffet in addition to cooked breakfast options. Beautiful garden space to the rear of the house. It’s about a 10 minute walk to St Canice’s Cathedral. Parking is available.

Posted by
75 posts

I love my hiking boots! I have had many thru my life and my ASOLO hiking boots do me well. Lightweight and comfy- can you google and see if you can try some on close by? I know everyone's foot is different and I've had many types of hiking boots but I do love my Asolo's the best.

Posted by
115 posts

Managed quite well for 8 days in June with New Balance walking shoes - including one day of torrential rain and multiple drizzly days in Norway. I have worn these (or their predecessors) on many trips to Europe, wet feet have as yet not been a problem. Lightest and most comfortable thing I can put on my feet, and never pack more than one pair of shoes!

Posted by
3558 posts

I wear ankle or higher boots on all my trips in all kinds of weather. I find them more comfortable and supportive than anything else for long hours of walking and standing. I take a second pair of shoes to change into, but find that I wear those rarely.

My go-to high boots are Ahnu Montaras. They are waterproof, and I've worn them through puddles, wet grass and sideways rain in Italy, the UK and Scandinavia. I have both dark blue ones and gray ones. My daughter used the same brand and style of boots on a wet, muddy and cold archaeological
dig in Iceland one summer.

Last trip I wore some ankle high boots (Teva Arrowoods) that are also waterproof, but they never encountered any water so I can't report on that. I can say that they saved me from an ankle sprain when I turned my ankle on a tree root heaved sidewalk in Lisbon last summer.

I'll be wearing these ankle high Abeo Adinas on my trip to Ireland. They are also waterproof. I can verify that they are very comfortable, but I haven't worn them in the rain yet. I don't want to mess them up in the mud on our unpaved roads before I go, but I will give them a rain test on wet pavement and in puddles before May.

I wear these kinds of boots regardless of weather. They are very comfortable and supportive and my feet don't get cold and wet or hot and sweaty. I give part of the credit for that to the Sockwell compression socks I always wear with them. They come in many designs and colors and are sold by many online vendors.

Posted by
5 posts

Whatever kind of boots you get, you need to get them now and start breaking them in. Be sure to get fitted by someone who knows what they're doing. I hiked the South Downs Way in England with poor fitting boots (I thought they fit okay at first) and ended up with blisters. I now have Vasque hiking boots from REI and I love them, but everyone's feet are different. You must get fitted and break them in.

Posted by
5658 posts

Bring trainers/sneakers for hut shoes. Your B&B host will appreciate you not wearing your wet and muddy boots indoors.

To dry wet boots, pull out insole and stuff dry newspapers in the boots. Change wet newspapers out periodically.

"Best" boots are boots that fit. That said, boots with a Gore-Tex or similar waterproof membrane are best for UK walking.

Posted by
35 posts

I spent a week in Galway and Clare last April. I brought with me a pair of Women's KEEN Targhee II ankle boots. They were so comfortable right from the start. I didnt need to break them in at all. I did a very long walk one day on the Caher Valley Loop. And although at the end I thought my feet were going to fall off, it wasnt because the boots were uncomfortable. I had just done way more walking than I ever do at home and I was exhausted! But my feet stayed dry. I am bringing these boots with me this summer when I go back to visit Galway and Mayo.

Posted by
1014 posts

Check out Airbnb along your route. We used about 12 last summer during or 35 day drive about in Ireland. We had I bad one. The rest were wonderful. Just make sure where they are, using googlemaps.

Posted by
15 posts

I really like my Keen Terradora waterproof hiking shoes. They make a boot version as well if you want the extra ankle support.