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Travel + Fun

19th Apr 2024

Best woodland walks in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands to enjoy with family

Sarah McKenna Barry

Brought to you by Discover Ireland

Spring is all about soaking up fresh air and making the most of these long days.

If there’s one activity that takes priority as we transition from spring to summer, it’s spending quality time with the whole family outdoors. One way to soak up as much fresh air as possible on your next break is to plan a trip to Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Roscommon, Cavan, Limerick, Tipperary, Offaly and Westmeath are just some of the counties that you can explore in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, and they all make for brilliant additions to your next break. Make the most of these brighter days, enjoy a picnic, embark on a hearty walk and ramble through these picturesque forests, watching your little ones become enchanted by their beauty. And, to help make your family break even more memorable, we’ve selected a few of our favourite nearby cafés where parents can fuel up on coffee while children can enjoy a sweet treat.

Ready for your next family adventure? Here are some of the best woodland walks in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands to enjoy with the family on your next spring or summer break.

Lough Key Forest and Activity Park

This 19th century parkland in Roscommon is home to many walking routes for all abilities, but for families, we’d recommend the Drumman’s Island Trail. This multi-access trail is flat, 3.5 km long and takes walkers along the tranquil lakeshore as well as the forest road, where you can check out the spring blooms. On this walk, which takes about an hour to complete, you’ll also get the chance to admire the intricate fairy bridge – a sight your little ones will love!

After you’ve taken in the beauty of the park, swing by the Lakeside Café where an array of refreshments and sweet treats await.

Cavan Burren Park, Co. Cavan

Cavan Burren Park boasts over 10km of walking trails, and the 2.7km Giant’s Leap Trail is ideal for families looking to take advantage of the brighter days. This unique landscape is particularly striking in the warmer months, so set out with your little ones and enjoy beautiful scenery, spectacular views and summer wildflowers. This trail also allows walkers to check out one of Ireland’s most intact megalithic wedge tombs – a sight to behold for people of all ages!

Afterwards, stroll in to the picturesque town of Blacklion, ramble its pretty streets and pop into a local café or restaurant for a bite to eat.

Nature Loop Murroe, Co. Limerick

With dense woods, flowing streams and crystal clear waterfalls along the way, the nature loop at Murroe makes for a brilliant family walk. This family-friendly trail is under 2km so make sure you stop along the way to really take in your surroundings and enjoy the dappled sunlight illuminating the forest. Take a break by the river and keep your eyes peeled for some of the fauna – birds, squirrels, deer – that call this area home.

Once you’ve taken in the beauty of this area, head across the county border to Tipperary and visit Ponaire Café. This café is renowned for its coffee, but with a wide selection of baked goods, your little ones will enjoy it too.

Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, Co. Westmeath

Visiting Westmeath this spring or summer? Make sure you add Belvedere House, Gardens and Park to your itinerary. Breathe in that pleasant air as you explore the six kilometres of ancient woodland in this parkland. In addition to the picturesque walking trails, there are four children’s play areas including a 30 metre zip-line. So, whatever the weather throws at you, your little ones are bound to have a ball!

All this playing and adventuring will have no doubt worked up a bit of an appetite, so pop by the Lakeside Café on the grounds, where you’ll find an array of lunch options as well as snacks and hot and cold drinks.

Lough Boora Discovery Park, Co. Offaly

Explore the beauty of Co. Offaly on your next family trip with a visit to Lake Boora Discovery Park. This park is home to many beautiful trails, but the Fairy Route is particularly popular with younger visitors. This 1.3km route invites families to stroll through Fairy Avenue and leads little ones to a bug hotel, a wishing seat and an enchanting maze.

For a bite to eat after rambling through Lake Boora Discovery park, visit the newly opened Ballycommon Bakehouse, which is open Friday to Sunday. The menu here is packed with plenty of tasty treats and great coffee for parents – the ideal way to refuel after spending the day embracing the fresh air.

So, what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to book your next getaway in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Brought to you by Discover Ireland.

The Leave No Trace principles help us make as little an impact as possible on the incredible Irish landscape as we explore the outdoors this summer and beyond. Keep outdoor areas safe, clean and free from waste/hazards, and help us protect the natural environment. Love this place, leave no trace. 

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