Why not pull on your wellies and get out there? Here are five gorgeous forest walks that are perfect for the whole family.
1. Carrickgollogan Wood, Kilternan, Co. Dublin
Located about two and a half kilometres south of Kilternan village in south county Dublin, Carrickgollogan Woods comprises around two hundred acres of beautiful woodland and a wide variety of walks. Highlights include: a Dolmen, a Rath site, the viewing rock at Carrickgollogan hill (with some of the most amazing views of Dublin and Wicklow), and the old lead mine chimney at the northern edge of the woods. You can find more information & directions here.
2. Tibradden Wood, Killakee, Co. Dublin
A pine forest about sixteen kilometres outside of Dublin City, Tibradden Wood in Killakee is both a wildlife habitat for birds, deer, foxes and badgers and a place of archaeological interest. There is an ancient cairn and a Bronze Age kist burial site on the south side of the wood. In fact, an urn removed from the area is now housed in the National Museum. Be warned that parking at this popular spot can be limited at the weekends! Find directions here.
3. Donadea Forest Park, Prosperous, Co. Kildare
One of my own personal favourites and an ever-popular choice with my kids, Donadea Forest Park in northwest Kildare is a part of the old Aylmer estate. A really atmospheric National Heritage Area, highlights include the old castle, church, and its walled gardens. There are also ice and boat houses to explore, along with a tower. The walk around the large central lake is wheelchair accessible, as is the nature trail with signposted nature stops. The moving 9/11 memorial commemorates those who lost their lives in the tragedy and was erected in memory of a local man, Sean Tallon, who emigrated from the area. The wood cabin style café is open all year and has an outside fire and seating area. Opening times and more information is available here.
4. Russborough House, Blessington, Co. Wicklow
Another favourite, even the drive to Russborough through the beautiful Wicklow countryside is picturesque. This historic house has everything you could want in a walk. Choose from the two-kilometre wildlife trail and habitat, the woodland and rhododendron trail, or do both if you have older children or are feeling energetic. Information boards are dotted along the way with nature facts and figures to keep the little ones interested. The Greenway is a much longer trail running along the shores of the Blessington Lakes and through areas of forest and natural woodland. Why not finish your walk with a look around The National Bird of Prey Centre or a hot cuppa in the cosy tearooms? You can check out their website to help you plan your trip.
5. Emo Court, Emo, Co. Laois
Emo Court is a neo-classical mansion in County Laois designed by noted architect James Gandon, located just outside Emo village near Portarlington. Emo’s beautiful woodlands and parklands date back to the 18th century and the Cupcake Café is open on Saturdays and Sundays from the 1st of November to the 31st of January. Only an hour or so from Dublin, the gardens are open daily all year around during daylight hours and entry to the gardens is free. Find out more here.