From exploring the wild expanses of bogland, to enchanting woodland trails, Offaly has a variety of short and easy walks for the entire family to enjoy. Here, we choose just some of the top family-friendly walks:
While the word ‘hill’ might sound a little intimidating, Croghan Hill near Croghan Village is not an intense walk. While it does involve an uphill climb, it’s a short stretch to reach the top of the 232m high hill – only approximately 20 minutes. It’s suitable for all levels of fitness and many families regularly visit Croghan Hill to complete the climb and take in the sweeping views of the countryside, across the Bog of Allen. Climbing Croghan Hill is also an educational experience for the little ones, as the hill is, in fact, the remains of an extinct volcano. Who knew there was a volcano in Offaly!
Clara Bog Walk
Clara Bog, just a 14-minute drive from Tullamore, is one of the best remaining examples of a raised bog in Europe. Visitors can take in the natural heritage site on a short 1km looped walk. The route follows a timber boardwalk right across the bog, with beautiful flora and fauna. And those with a keen eye might spot some wildlife species, from lizards to birds such as the stonechat. Remember, Clara Bog is a naturally wet environment, with many concealed dangers such as deep pools, so make sure to stay on the boardwalk, particularly if you’re bringing young kids. At Clara Bog Nature Reserve, there’s also a visitor centre, but this is currently closed. However, the looped boardwalk is accessible at all times.
Located near the picturesque village of Kinnitty, within the Slieve Blooms, Knockbarron Wood has a looped 5km eco walk, with many species of trees and diverse flora and fauna. Knockbarron also contains one of the finest and most intact esker systems. An esker is a long narrow winding ridge of sand or gravel, deposited by a stream flowing under a glacier. Autumn is a great time for the family to explore this trail, as the leaves start to change colour and fall. In the spring the bluebells cover the ground in a fabulous blanket of purple. The walk is suitable for those with a moderate fitness level and takes approximately one and a half hours to complete, so perhaps bring small snacks for those with a hungry tummy!
At Lough Boora Discovery Park, there’s a variety of walking trails that can be enjoyed by all age groups. For a short walk, try the 3.3km Sculpture Park Route, where you will find 24 innovative sculptures along the way. These works by various artists were inspired by the rich natural and industrial legacy of the boglands in which Lough Boora Discovery Park is set. Keep an eye out for the old peat train, as well as a Thomas the Tank Engine train, which the kids will love. There’s also a fairy trail to explore, as well as an on-site café, so you can all stop off for refreshments after your adventure.
Located in Ballybeg, near the village of Coolderry, Glasderry is a lovely place to visit for a peaceful woodland stroll. While the short trail is not waymarked, it loops around Lough Roe, an artificial lake, so is easy to follow, taking approximately 20 minutes to complete. Glasderry was formerly part of the Lloyd estate in the 17th century, and the artificial lake was created to ensure a plentiful supply of water for the domestic needs and the gardens of the influential Lloyd family who lived in nearby Gloster House.
Kilmurray Bog Walk and Nature Trail
While off the beaten track, Kilmurray Bog Walk and Nature Trail is a hidden gem. Based about a 10-minute drive from Tullamore and 30 minutes from Edenderry, the beautiful woodland trail is home to some friendly fairies. And there are many little surprises along the way for children to watch out for! This is a much-loved walkway and nature trail which children, and adults, alike adore.