The Tain Way is Louth's contribution to the Ways, and while short (40km) it is mighty. The trail is a loop, starting/ending in Carlingford. We did the trail anti-clockwise, heading towards Omeath on our first day.
As the bus left Dundalk and moved upwards along the coast I slowly got more and more excited for this trail - it had been so long since we had hiked with sea views, and they're my favourite.
We've been trying to keep our plans as loose as possible, so that we can move with the best weather, and work in other people's plans. Which means that, at least for me, I don't really get to brush up all that much on the trails or areas we're going to until I'm already half way through the walk. This can be great (none of the amazing views are spoilt) or not so great - we didn't know that there is no bus to/from Carlingford on Sundays or Holidays. And we forgot that the weekend that was beginning was a bank holiday. We of course realised/found all this out about 5 minutes after getting off the bus in Carlingford.
That's ok. The area looked amazing, and taking it easy for a couple of extra days also sounded nice. So we grabbed a coffee (in the pinkest and fluffiest café I've ever seen in person) and bought some extra supplies before walking out the trail a short way to find a campsite.
We walked out to where the trail wandered through some forestry and found a perfect campsite within the trees. Someone before us had made some benches out of logs and cleared away any big branches. And it was set back enough that no one on the trail would notice unless they were actively looking for a tent. I doubt it's possible to find a better site really.
Because the weather was so cold for our first few trails, we didn't really like stopping before it was late enough to go to bed, as sitting around waiting for bed time just sucked all of the heat out of you. While walking each day I would tell myself that that evening I would definitely get some writing done, or some other similar thing I wanted to do. But if we did stop with time to do things, as so as I'd sit down the cold would worm its way through all my layers (at least 4) and then I think my body would just shut down and work on keeping itself warm. My mind would go sluggish. I wasn't able to do anything.
So that evening we sat numbly staring out at the amazing views around us.
Our plan for our first proper day of walking was to get to Lumpers pub on the far side of Ravensdale. We grabbed coffees in Omeath (there's a sign saying there's a coffee shop close to the trail. If there is, we didn't find it. But there is a little guest house a decent walk down the prom that does coffees and more), and then started the winding uphill climbs.
A lot of this walk is on Tarmac, but I don't say this in a negative way. The area is clearly used to walkers, and the majority of the roads the trail goes along see very little traffic. The surroundings are so windswept and beautiful that I didn't even notice we were walking on roads after a while. The climbs that day show you amazing views of Carlingford and the whole bay area (I think Newry is across the water).
Weatherise - well it depends if you look at you weather mug half empty or half full.
Half empty: we were almost blown off of the mountains it was so windy.
Half full: it was only wind, and maybe one extremely light drizzle. Many times we looked up at the clouds rolling in and thought "ah, now the full storm hits us". But it never did. I think it could have been a lot worse.
Once on the other side, you walk down through forestry to the town of Ravensdale. We were lucky to catch the bluebells starting to flower around the tree roots. Ravensdale itself is not a village, but a collection of some very nice houses and a school. If you want to get any food here you have to turn off the trail. There is a small garage fairly close by, and if you're willing to walk 20-30mins from the trail there's a hotel with bar and restaurant. (We went to the bar and met my Dad for food. According to him it's also a nice place to ride you motorbike around).
That evening we made it to Lumpers pub. While having a drink by the fire we met John, the owner, who offered to let us camp in the pub's garden area out the back. We happily took him up on his offer.
On day 2 there was only a third of the walk left, but plenty of uphill. The crest coming back into Carlingford was amazing to walk up to.
All in all we both loved this walk - even while we were being blown away, which I think says something about just how amazing it was. While there's plenty of uphill you don't need to have any real walking experience to go and do it. It shows you the most amazing and accessible views of the surrounding area. The only problem I would see other people having is if they wanted to book accommodation over camping I expect it would be expensive.
To see more photos head over to the Photographs tab.
Finally, here's our video of the trail ...