a walk, run, hike, swim, bike, park and outdoor gym
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 Walk in the Nore valley
Distance 11 km linear trail
Approximate duration 2.5 hours
Starting point Google maps Bennettsbridge (grid reference S 552 492)
Approvals Bennettsbridge and Kilkenny
Rewarding outing following the peaceful River Nore upstream to pass many relics of Kilkenny industrial heritage. The arrival is located next to the large Norman castle in the heart of the Cité de Marbre.
Last name: Brandon Hill Loop – Graiguenamanagh Trailhead
Elevation: 520m / 600m
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Ground: Small roads, forest tracks and hillside paths
Shoe: Road or trail runners
Directions to the start of the trail: The Brandon Hill Loop begins in the town of Graiguenamanagh. The trailhead is at the Barrow Valley Activity Center, located on the Barrow River. Turn right just before the bridge.
Route information: From the trailhead, follow the purple arrows turning left at the bridge and immediately left. You also follow the yellow arrows of the South Leinster Way. Turn left again, run 500 m to a dead end at the edge of the city ring road. Cross the road to join a secondary road. Follow this road for 200 m to reach a junction with another secondary road on your left. Turn left here. Follow this road for almost 2 km where it merges with a forest road – always following the purple and yellow arrows. After 200m the forest track turns right and passes through a barrier into Gorlough Wood. 300m further you come to a three-way junction where the South Leinster Way continues straight on, but you turn left.
Continue to follow the purple arrows along a forest track for 3 km to reach another three-way junction where the loop turns right. Go up along the forest track which zigzags then around Ballinvarry Hill. After almost 2 km you reach a crossroads of tracks where the loop turns sharply to the right onto a “green” roadway and begins the ascent to Brandon Hill. After 500m of climb, you reach a concrete stile and join a track where you turn right along the top of the forest and on the hillside open on your left. Be careful now because less than 200m further you will turn left again and join a hillside path that will take you to the top of Brandon Hill.
From the top, look for markings that point you to a stony path that marks the start of your inner journey. The path zigzags and descends downhill to reach the edge of the forest where you turn right onto a forest path. After almost 1 km you reach a Y-junction where the loop joins the South Leinster Way. Turn right and start back down into Gorlough Wood – following the purple and yellow arrows. Go through the Reneys Well site to reach the three-lane junction where you started the loop. This time, go straight ahead and follow the purple (and yellow) arrows to the town of Graiguenamanagh. (Helped by: Coillte)
Name of the hike Brandon Hill Loop
Altitude gain 650m
Approximate duration 3-3.5 m
Type of route Loop
Starting point See all trails Brandon Hill
Approvals Parking (limited)
Suitable for dogs? No
Advice Bring a map and a good sense of direction, as there isn’t a lot of signage
Last name: The spillway
Location: Google map: Bleach Road, Dunmore
Brief description: Popular swimming spot on the Nore river
Approvals: Toilets, parking
Rescuer: Summer 2 p.m.-4.30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-7.30 p.m. June weekends only
Water quality: Good condition – 2013 – EPA report 2018
Advice: Decent dock platform for easy access. Deep enough water is only suitable for good swimmers
Last name: North Kilkenny Bike Loop
Place of departure : The Parade, Kilkenny
Road: A most enjoyable cycle from Kilkenny City to Jenkinstown Park and Dunmore Cave along mostly riverside roads and rural lanes.
Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Strong points: One of Kilkenny’s three designated cycle loops most suited to the recreational cyclist.
Look for: The busy section of the N78 before turning onto Dunmore Cave lane.
Advice: To see more visitkilkenny.ie
Park name: Castlecomer Discovery Park, Castlecomer
Approvals: Marked walking, mountain biking and orienteering trails scattered throughout this wooded area of 30 hectares.
Particularities: Walk in the trees, tree climbing course and zip line above the water.
Access: Paid parking on site. Entrance to the park free, but paying for the activities. Google Map “Castlecomer Discovery Park”.
Dogs: Dogs kept on a leash only
Advice: Book in advance and plan your trip by being prepared for all weather conditions.
Last name: Nore Linear Park, Kilkenny
Equipment: Steps / box jumps, suspension training, Swedish gymnastics gymnastics and weighted dumbbells.
Location: Google maps
Information: 4 km loop walk along the river through meadow and woods. Swimming when lifeguards are on duty.
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