TikTok Talks: Kevin Penrose the Wild Irish Wanderer on helpful hiking tips, stunning sunrises and platform pressures

Travelling TikToker, Kevin Penrose, aka the Wild Irish Wanderer has amassed 8.4 million likes since he started his account in 2019.

By documenting his hikes across the north and south of Ireland, capturing spectacular shots of stunning scenery and offering helpful hiking tips Kevin has built up a following of over 188,800 people on the app.

@wildirishwanderer this is exactly what comes to mind when i hear this song ♬ original sound - Noah Kahan

“I started the account during Covid, and it really came about out of boredom,” he laughed.

“TikTok was still quite new and still considered a ‘dance app’ and no-one was really utilising it for the likes of travel or outdoors.

“Then I started seeing people posting things like, a day in their lives and what they were doing over Covid, and I thought OK maybe I’ll post things that I’ve been up to.

“I had so much footage and videos from my travels anyway and didn’t really have anywhere to post it so TikTok seemed like the perfect place” Kevin explained.

@wildirishwanderer my simple pleasures in life ♬ original sound - Austin Rutland

One of four boys, Kevin always had an interest in travelling and exploring new places.

“I’ve been an outdoors person my whole life, when I was younger, I would always be running around in the back fields, riding my bike, and having the craic outside.

“I used to spend my summers in America before Covid doing summer camps and that’s when I got really into travelling because I wanted to see a lot more of America but then I realised when I came home, I hadn’t actually seen much of Ireland.

“Once you leave Ireland you don’t appreciate it until you come back and that’s when I decided I was going to make an effort to explore my home which is when I started hiking.”  

Initially Kevin took his go pro out when he went on scenic strolls to make videos for YouTube before making the move to TikTok.

“I was using my GoPro at the start and I was doing a bit YouTube because at the time it was the traveller space for creatives, and I was making vlogs and it making it look quite cinematic and then over covid TikTok took off and it made more sense to switch to it” he explained.

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It is evident that Kevin adores hiking, often enjoying what he describes as “a climber's high” and finding new and different places to explore, “if you take the social media aspect away from it all I would still be doing all these things anyway because I’d still have the love for it.”

Although planning a hike can prove difficult Kevin makes a conscious effort to go on as many as he can, particularly if there’s sunrise to be seen.

“Planning isn’t too bad if the route is in Donegal, if that’s the case I could plan it the night before,” he says.

“Although, one thing I need to stop doing because it always wrecks me is lying in bed at nine or 10 o’clock at night checking the weather app and if it says there’s an amazing sunrise expected for the next morning, I will get up early and go and do the hike to see it and it’s a very last-minute decision.”

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He tells me that his favourite place to hike is Mount Errigal, Donegal’s tallest mountain.

“Mount Errigal is probably one of my top ones because it’s one of the OGs, I started out with and I’ve climbed it so many times in so many different conditions and every single sunrise I’ve seen whilst on it has been different and you are guaranteed an amazing view.

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“There’s obviously some mountains I still have to climb in Ireland, but I keep coming back to Errigal because I just enjoy climbing it.”

Kevin is delighted that he gets to share the majestic beauty of Ireland with an international audience, but admits that with an ever-expanding platform there are additional pressures.

“The pressure always creeps in now and again, especially with TikTok. It’s quite unpredictable and if you’ve had a viral video in the past, you might not get another one for weeks or months. It’s completely dependent on the algorithm.

“So, there is pressure in terms of figuring out what your audience likes and why certain videos are doing well compared to others. I could put a lot of work and effort into a video for my audience that would do OK, but then if I post one that’s silly and wasn’t planned, it’s normally the one that takes off, so it is about trying to find a balance and not letting the algorithm control how I make my content.”

@wildirishwanderer Who’s coming on the next sunrise hike then? #ireland ♬ original sound - Juswa - user82383479098

In addition to exploring all the natural wonders Ireland has to offer, Kevin confesses that he would love to tackle some of the mountains included in The Eight Summits.

“I was meant to do Mount Kilimanjaro this year with Caroline McKenna who runs the acountydownunder account on TikTok and schedule wise it just didn’t work out for me unfortunately but hopefully in the next year or two I will get out to it.

@wildirishwanderer That’s one way to do it ⛰ #ireland ♬ Makeba (Ian Asher Remix) - Jain & Ian Asher

“At the start of this year we went out to Tenerife and did Mount Teide, which is the highest mountain in Spain, so it was a good one to do and again, there was a brilliant sunrise.

“It was very enjoyable but also very challenging and very different to hiking at home,” he recalls.

@wildirishwanderer Im going to miss these sunrises and cloud inversions ♬ original sound - fantasyfilm

His advice for beginners wanting to explore some the places he posts about is to start with something easy, even if it is just going to places in your local area.

“Just do it, don’t over think it, once you start hiking you don’t have to go and climb the highest mountain in Ireland or anything like that there’s smaller trials and there’s so many groups out there as well with guides that you go to and meet people.

@wildirishwanderer A year ago I came home to Ireland after spending months abroad traveling by myself. Safe to say I was a completely different guy when I left compared to when I returned home to Ireland ☘️ through all of the incredible adventures, opportunities, encounters, trips, memories and friendships made, this past year has been nothing short of amazing. Before I came out I was living a double life and was never 100% in the moment however one thing I’ve learned is that there is no better feeling than living being your true authentic self ️‍ #ireland #irishtravel #travelireland #discoverireland #adventureireland #gay #comingout ♬ capsize - ily_cookie♡

“Winter hikes are my favourite as long as you’re prepared for them, but you can do it all year round, in my opinion there’s always time for a hike” he says.