When the weather is nice, there is so much to do outdoors in Ireland – solo, with family or friends. Here are seven activities – with locations, descriptions, tips, and maps for a general guide.
Below you can read John O’Dwyer’s pick for an excellent walking path, Conor O’Keeffe on a race course, Rozanna Purcell recommends a hiking trail, Mary McCarthy on a outdoor swimming place, Ian O’Riordan chooses a bike trip, Sylvia Thompson on a family park and Fiona Alston selects a popular outdoor gym.
And remember, whatever you do and wherever you go, be careful. And enjoy.
Last name Abbeyleix Bog Loop
Approximate duration 2 hours
Starting point Google maps Hotel Manoir Abbeyleix (grid reference S 437 841)
Approvals Parking and catering
Mark the purple arrows on an undemanding walk along a well-marked path. It crosses forests and peat bogs that have been restored thanks to the efforts of volunteers. Can get wet in places, so waterproof footwear is required.
Last name: Durrow Leafy Walk Loop
Length: 21.4 km
Elevation gain: 530m
Type of route: Loop
Shoe: Road or trail runners
Route information: The leafy loop around Durrow climbs up to Ballagh. It’s a glorious race through forests, rivers, hills to watch the valley and downhill into the charming village of Durrow itself. The Leafy Loop is a longer version of the Dunmore Loop, which follows the same route until a divergence just before Clonageera House on the other side of the village. If you fancy a shorter daytime run, take the 14.5 km Dunmore Loop. You will be able to see many beautiful sites along the way, then climb up to see the beautiful valley. It’s over 4 miles (6.4 km), but if you’re in shape it’s well worth it.
This walk is well marked with a variety of poles along the way. The purple arrows point to the leafy loop signs and have been placed with care and thoughtfulness by people who care about keeping you on the right path at all times. The trail immediately lived up to its “Leafy Loop” nickname and continued to do so. Durrow means “Oak Plain” and this area was famous for having such dense woods in the 18th century that outlaw Jeremiah Grant and his band of ne’er do wells were able to hide easily. It was not until the early post-independence era that massive logging took place, making the current tree cover a valuable thing. (Helped by: Laois Tourisme)
Name of the hike Glenbarrow Red Trail
Altitude gain 520m
Approximate duration 2-2.5 hours
Type of route Loop
Starting point See all trails Rosenallis Glenbarrow Red Trail
Approvals Car park
Suitable for dogs? No
Advice There is a mix of trails here suited to your physical abilities; if you are a beginner try the blue trail
Last name: Ballinakill Pool
Location: Google map: Ballinakill Outdoor Pool
Brief description: Heated and recently renovated swimming pool (2019) of 35 m including a space for toddlers of 10 m
Approvals: Changing rooms, toilets, parking
Water quality: Chlorine swimming pool
Advice: Can be busy with lessons but time slots for adult and children’s time sessions are always available. Close to free access to Heywood Gardens for a walk after swimming
Last name: Emo Court Loop
Place of departure : Emo/ Emo Cour.
Road: Departing from the village or Emo Court Demesne, designed in 1790 by James Gandon for the first Earl of Portarlington, make your way to Fishertown, Vicarstown, returning via the Rock of Dunamase and The Heath
Time: 2-2.5 hours
Strong points: A nice mix of scenery along mostly good terrain.
Look for: The moor, a kind of miniature Curragh with free range sheep.
Advice: Plenty of room for variety here, including another twist in Athy.
Park name: Emo Court Park
Approvals: Beautiful walks in the formal gardens, around the artificial lake and the surrounding forests.
Particularities: Nice range of specimen trees including giant sequoias, atlas cedars, tulips and handkerchiefs.
Access: Parking on site. Google map “Emo Court”.
Dogs: Dogs on a lead accepted.
Advice: Consider booking in advance for a tour of Emo Court, the 18th-century neoclassical villa built by James Gandon.
Last name: Père Breen Park, Abbeyleix
Equipment: Elliptical trainer, shoulder flexor, leg press, lat pull, chest press, stepper, ab curl, dip bars, bike, walker, fitness runner.
Location: Google maps
Information: The outdoor gym is located in the parking lot of the GAA building.
Get an active streak
– 32 great hiking routes in Ireland – one in each county
– 32 great hikes in Ireland
– 32 great running routes
– 32 superb outdoor swimming spots
– 32 major cycle routes
– 32 large parks
– 32 stunning outdoor gyms