Lough Key Forest Park
We waited a week but it happened the sun was shining!!! We quickly packed up some essentials and jumped into our car decided to head to the ever popular and known as one of Roscommon’s number one tourist attractions Lough Key Forest Park.
A great attraction for a family day out or a morning stroll.
As well as access to the park which is free to roam the ‘Lough Key Experience’ is available with an audio journey through the history of the Park even using the 19th century underground tunnels, a newly refurbished Moylurg viewing tower and the Zipit Tree Canopy Walk. At 300m long this impressive timber and steel construction rises 9m above the ground offering a ‘birds eye’ view of nature through the treetops offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Note 1:During our visit the Lough Key experience was closed due to the pandemic
Note 2 : Please be aware that level 5 restrictions still apply please see Lough Key website below for updates
Located 5 minutes drive from Boyle town centre and 15 minutes from the lively Carrick On Shannon on Ireland’s mid west. Just off the N4 Sligo road.
A quick run down on this parks history ,an 800 hectare park which was formerly part of the Rockingham estate.
Being in operation since 1972 the park is used by locals and tourists alike. Featuring many walking tracks, restaurant and visitor centre.
Sections of the park still have features from the Rockingham estate and some developed from the opening from the seventies. Those being the Ice House, Gazebo, Ruined Church, Stables, old Service Tunnels, the Bog Gardens, Wishing Chair, the Fairy Bridge and Drummans Bridge.
Redevelopment of the park commenced in 2006 with the redevelopment of the tunnels, restaurant, visitor center and the Moylurg observation Tower.
In recent years and in line with a moving world the park added Zipit, a canopy walk through the trees. As well as segways and electric bike trails.
We started at the Lough, the little Island on the Lough is McDermott’s Castle it’s like something out of a fairy tale. A little castle lying there since the 18th century a great focal point for this area. Reports have it that a castle has lied there since the 12th century but the original was struck by lightning and burnt down.
Now the castle remains are mostly in ruins but can be viewed close up but renting a boat with Lough Key Boats which operate at the front of the Lough
After a bit of research I found this little story.
“Local legend tells the story of a girl called Una, the daughter of the McDermott chief, who fell in love with a boy from a lower class.
Una’s father refused to let her leave the island, in the hopes that this would deter the budding relationship.
Unbeknownst to her father, Una’s boyfriend began swimming across Lough Key to reach the castle. It was during one of these crossings that tragedy struck, and the boy drowned.
It’s said that Una died from grief and that both she and her partner have remained buried beneath two intertwined trees on the island ever since”
Two attractions at the park and as we started the walk around you will notice through the trees is the skywalk (below left) a 300 metre canopy walk through the forest.
Close by is the start of Zipit (below right). A adventure park within the park, with climbing, ziplines and many obstacles through the trees and through the park and the most recent addition to the park. At 1.6 km long with 5 different circuits and a 3 hour time limit a great morning of family fun.
As we walked through the park we got another stunning view out over the Lough. And a jetty area for boats to dock up to, unfortunately we had left ours at home and by left at home i mean left in the shop.
But many locals our known to dock up here and spend an afternoon at the park. Or just simply sat parked up on there boat enjoying this beautiful view.
As you walk around the main forest there are plenty of little rivers and walkways like these below. Everything always looks so peaceful and tranquil and the upkeep of the park is first class.
The park has 4 walking trails for you to enjoy. All the tracks are well maintained and suitable for all ages.
- Drumman’s Island Trail – Starting at the visitor center and 3.5km long
- Miners Way Historical Trail – Starting at the car park and 4.2kms long
- Sli Slainte – Starting at the main entrance and 3kms long
- The Bog Garden Trail – starting at the visitor center and 4kms long
A redeveloped lookout tower coming out from under where the old service tunnels once lied. The lookout tower is only accessed as part of the Lough Key Experience which as mentioned was closed during our visit. But with the surrounding woodland and Lough, we cant wait to get up it and take in those views.
It must said for such a beautiful park its certainly not the prettiest of lookout towers. But I suppose the end result and view is what counts
Back round at the front of the park. one of two buildings still feature from the past Rockingham estate. Firstly this old church building sits eloquently, surrounded by the perfectly cut lawn. One of many of the fine spots to throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic.
Secondly across the lawn was the second building an old stone house from the original Rockingham estate. Very well maintained and a large focal point straight across from the car park.
Due to the Pandemic the restaurant was closed however drinks and snacks were still available from local food and drinks trucks arranged and run by the park.
There is ample parking around however it is 4 euros to exit the car park and which I believe the money is to keep the uptake of the park which I suppose for the size is fair enough. Should you spend
We enjoyed our day and our walk cant wait to go back and hopefully the visitor center and all activities will be open then.
Local Restaurant Tip
A short 15 minute drive and you in the lovely town of Carrick and Shannon. A stop we often make for one reason the Oarsman. A upmarket bistro pub serving great food.
As seen below is the tandoori flatbread with beetroot hummus equally as good and highly recommended is the Oarsman burger.
Great selection of traditional and craft beers and a great whiskey collection.
Also equally as accommodating for coffees and treats, and believe me there are some grest treats.
Note: Please do check ahead due to level 5 restrictions in Ireland restaurants are operating take away only. You can find the Oarsman site below
Thanks for stopping by
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