Caves of Keash, Sligo, Ireland

Finally we got there

So it finally happened, we got to visit the Caves of Keash. We had talked about visiting many times but due to a number of reasons, one being the weather we just never made it. Actually one clear day we headed off and got to the foot of the hill only to find that it was lambing season and entry to the walk and caves had been restricted. So that’s my first tip check ahead to see if it’s lambing  season. We found up to date information on Sligowalk.ie site.

A little information on the Caves

The caves have 17 chambers along the hill, some of these connect to one another. For safety reasons the walk upto the Caves ends after the first 3 and with safety concerns the recommendation is only visiting these. Signs on the Caves tell you where the trail ends. (We listened to the advice and just saw the 3)

Note – The caves of keash are on private land so please when you walk through respect the land and listen to the advice and stick to designated tracks.

History

Early days there were archaeological investigations they say around the 1900s, that man lived in the Caves of Keash.

Those investigations also discovered bones from animals, with evidence of hares, brown bear, red deer, Arctic lemming and wolves all dating back to more than c.12,000 years ago.

It is said that Ireland’s famous High King, Cormac Mac Airt was born by a well near the caves. He in later life ruled as King.

The parking bay

In recent years a car park has been erected and is situated right at the entrance gate of the walking track (see picture below). Please be aware and here is tip 2 for the day. The Caves of Keash parking sign brings you a 10 minute walk away from the entrance to the walking track by the local church. New signs for the new are not clear.

At the car park

Enter the hike

Entrance to the hike is gated and as I mentioned earlier about lambing season this is locked during that time. Signs explaining safety precautions and local notices are present.

As you can see from the two photos above you can see in the hills the 17 different openings that make up the Caves of Keash . It looks cool from below and very enticing to go explore what’s in there, well it did for us anyway.

According to the information post guided tours are starting soon although no other details were present on here. It does say that tours operate from the Fox’s Den pub a 5 minute from the Caves. Heading back out on to the main road and start to head south you couldn’t miss it.

Coming soon guided walks

Start the walk

The walk starts with a slight incline through the field you can’t go off track there’s a perfectly mown strip for you to follow. As you walk up the Cave entrances start to look all the more impressive.

Start of the walk

At the end of this field a gate and sty await for you it asks for your assistance in closing. These reasons are normally as the lands are private and farmers cattle roam freely

The walking tracks

The walking tracks are in good condition, but please note we did for on a very dry week. The Start of the walk is through the grass. And this is why I emphasised we went when it was dry because during wet tines (that’s often in Ireland) this section will be muddy

About halfway up the walk a sign (Middle left above photos) the steep gradient starts and the track turns stoney giving a bit more grip. Believe us  you will need that grip as it gets a bit steep.

And approach the cave

And all your hard work finally pays off as you finally start to see the entrances to the caves. In all depending on fitness it takes about 15 – 20 minutes to reach the cave.

The below video gives a glimpse into what to expect at the Caves.

Leading into the Caves

Inside the cave

Once inside the cave the beautiful limestone formation is just amazing to see. The caves you can enter interconnect to each other showing openings and also as seen in a couple of the photos below a few holes which lead into the unknown. I would certainly be tempted to get back with headlamps and test it out.

The lookouts

Once inside the Caves of Keash you look out and there you photo opportunity. As you can see in the photos below the view looking out through the cave openings over the beautiful Sligo countryside is as Instagramable as it gets. I’d have to say these  are two of my favourite photos I have taken.

The views

The views looking out onto the Sligo countryside are just jaw dropping. We had some of the best weather of the year this day so we could see for miles and even though its taken us a while to get to the days the wait for a sunny day was well worth it.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely, we killed a few hours got some stunning views. Had fun exploring the caves and enjoyed some much needed fresh air.

Would it be as good on a rainy day? Probably not maybe plan last minute if the weather is reasonable.

Other close stuff to do

The caves although are in County Sligo, it is only minutes from the Roscommon border and in fact the closet main town is Boyle which is one of Roscommon’s largest towns.

Boyle is a great hub for things to do. Below is a list of a few of the popular places to see

More adventures

We love to get out into the open and see new things and is often the way these adventures are free which are all the better. Below is a list of 5 things we have done for free around Ireland.

  1. Roscommon Castle
  2. Hiked Diamond Hill
  3. Glencar Waterfall
  4. Mote Park
  5. Slieve Bawn Wind Farm

Guerins Path, Cliffs of Moher

Heading to the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher on Irelands wild Atlantic way is one of the most popular sites in Ireland. Explored by thousands each year, but with the west of Ireland’s wild nature can be a tough walk for young families or the less abled. Well look no further use this useful tip Guerins Path parking at the Cliffs of Moher.

Finding Guerins Path

After pulling up at the Cliffs of Moher and being told it was 10 euro per person to park, we were reluctant  on paying as the weather was not great and with a 2 year old and 8 month old we couldn’t see we would get value for more.

Being the ever optimists we decided to drive on a small bit and take some back roads and see what we could find. It was about 1km past the car park we saw a right turn with the a sign which at the bottom read car park. We turned in and headed up the small road for about another 1km.

The sign to turn up of the main road

It was here we saw the sign for Guerins Path, why not we said and turned in and headed into the fields and after a small drive saw a scattering of cars and a attendant.

We got chatting to the attendant and with the young kids in the back he told us we could bypass the car park and head along Guerins Path to the closet parking spot available to the Cliffs of Moher. “sold’ we said and even better half the price of normal parking.

The map below shows the exact location.

What They Say

Ill interupt the story here to give you  a bit of information on Guerins Path.

A family-owned business, Guerin’s Path to Cliff Walk provides a hassle-free alternative for an epic experience. Park your car at Guerin’s farm and enjoy a lovely stroll along Guerin’s Path to the stunning Cliff Walk along the Cliffs of Moher.  Excellent for hikers and walkers who want to experience a bit of adventure tackling the Cliff Walk,  for visitors who long to view the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way and for photographers and wedding parties looking to snap the perfect shot.  It is also an excellent choice for families with young children, pensioners for whom strenuous walking is difficult and those in need of wheelchair accessibility to reach the cliffs in a quick and easy way.  Local farmer Martin Guerin and his family welcome you to their farm to enjoy one of the most breathtaking wonders of the world.

Courtesy of www.guerinspath.com/

Five meter walk to see the Cliffs of Moher

We got out of the car and straight through a gate and we literally were 5 metres from the perfect view of the Cliffs of Moher. As you can see in this video below.

Guerins Path parking

Guerins Path did the job

For us this find was perfect with the kids who were both under 3 and not have to navigate it with them, but to still see the view was amazing. If this wasn’t a trip with the kids then to do the whole walk would be our preference. This post is more to give people who either like us have children, are less able or short on time.

For a bit more information check out there website for more.

Which ever way you choose the Cliffs of Moher are a must see here is are a few snaps from our trip below. You could also check out our Cliffs of Moher road trip post right Here.

And Finally

Enjoyed this? Then find some more of our favourite Ireland trips below

We even have our own Irish only content site Travel Through Ireland check it out.

For more info on the area maybe a look at these sites below may help.

Roscommon Castle, Roscommon, Ireland

Roscommon Castle

After recently moving to Roscommon, we thought we should get out and explore. Me and my son set of for wander round the new neighborhood. And what we came across was the ruins of the Roscommon Castle and Loughnaneane Park.

As soon as I heard of the castle I wanted to visit. I have often loved visiting ruins it’s really a place to let the imagination flow and wander what these sorts of structures where once like when operational.

Location

Set about 2 minute drive from the town center, best access and parking is just off Castle Street and down Castle Lane. Exact location can be found on Google maps below.

Roscommon has a town center train station located 3 minute drive to Roscommon Castle. Busus are available also via Bus Eireann

A Brief History Of The Castle

The castle now in ruins, this large and striking 13th-century Norman castle was once of Hugh O’Connor, the King of Connaught. It features a quadrangular plan with rounded bastions at the corners and a double-towered entrance gate.

The castles 7 Norman structure, built back in 1269 by then Robert de Ufford, on lands which were taken from an Augustinian priory.

The castle was laid to siege by the Connacht King Aodh O’Connor in 1272. Eight years on, and then again in the possession of the English garrison and fully restored. 1340 came around and the O’Connors had regained possession and held it until 1569, to which it then fell to Sir Henry Sidney, who at the time was the Lord Deputy.

Our Visit To The Castle

The Roscommon Castle ruins is free to visit and is its surrounding walking tracks and play areas. Open all year round with no opening or closing times.

The castle from across Loughnaneane park looks beautiful and as you can see the structure is largely still well visible. Currently a few restoration projects are also ongoing helping to keep this site as well maintained as possible.

The Castle

The entrance to the castle through the stone arch is grand and very well maintained. A bridge at the front of the castle is not the original but is there for access to all visitors, With easy ramps and railings for elderly or wheelchair access.

Once inside the ruins become more visible and you can see where the castle fell into decay and you can see where it all once stood. The extremely high walls and stunning windows show the formation of the former 3 floored castle.

I do love to sit back and absorb places like this and try to imagine what it once was like when it was operational. I think imagination is great could you imagine the people who once resided here and how they went about there lives.

The stairwell access still remains but due to the ruins lead to nowhere. They are gated shut due to safety, and the obvious ruins of the site. But these would of been access to the other levels of the castle.

One of my favourite shots from the back of the castle. Luckily I managed to capture the glaring sunlight through the windows and gate. This back gate leads out onto a grassed area which would of once been part of the castles gardens and courtyard.

Another shot, and this time of one of the bastions. This would of been built so to allow defense fire in several directions. Again the obvious signs of ruins and what once was a castle. It’s easy to see here the former castle was over 3 floors with the still present window frames.

The Park

A very well maintained walking track adjacent to the castle and a lake situated perfectly in the center of Loughnaneane park. Full of ducks, which we now regularly enjoy going to with the kids to feed them. Very friendly and always welcome for some bread if those magpies don’t sweep in to quickly.

Walking tracks around the pond to enjoy and to stretch the legs. There is also a outer walking track for longer walks. Al very well maintained as is the whole area.

Also situated in this park is a good quality well equipped playground. With lots of climbing and adventures for the kids again extremely well maintained and like new. Plenty of space for kids with an array of features for all ages.

This place is great way to kill an hour or so in the morning and would be a perfect picnic spot in the summer and somewhere to bring the family to enjoyed a great bit of fresh air.

Fitness Machines

Loughnaneane park is well equipped with street fitness machines, this is great way for people to keep fit whilst out for a walk. Again very well maintained and never to crowded. Machines for different parts of the body.

Local Refreshments

A favourite spot of ours and somewhere we like to pick up a coffee to bring for our walks is Rogue and Co in Roscommon Town Centre.

Only a 5 – 6 minute walk from the castle and situated on the high street in Roscommon is Rogue & Co is a trendy cafe offering great food and beverages.

High recommendations the double smash burger and the haloumi burger, or for early risers the smashed avo on sourdough topped with siracha is always a winner.

Equally as mention, a pre walk stop take away coffees and homemade scones are always a hit.

Rogue and Co Cafe Roscommon

County Roscommon Things To Do

Roscommon is a county steeped in history, we have had the priveledge to be here for 3 years now and in that time have seen what this county has to offer. And we are now delighted to offer our ultimate guide to County Roscommon.

Our guide includes our top 5 musts, walk, hotels, restaurants and a few little extras. Make sure to check it out.

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Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon, Ireland

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 & activity Park.

A great attraction for a family day out or a morning stroll Lough Key Roscommon is a hit with everyone.

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. Lets just say some great play areas for both the children and adults.

Location

Lough Key is 5 minutes drive from Boyle town centre and 15 minutes from the lively Carrick On Shannon on Ireland’s mid west in County Roscommon.

Getting There

By Road
Lough Key is conveniently located on the N4 Dublin to Sligo Road and is 17 kilometres from the N5 Dublin to Westport Road. The town of Boyle is only 5 km from Lough Key, which links to the N61 Roscommon/Athlone Road.
Link to AA Route Planner

By Train
Boyle Train Station is on the Sligo – Dublin Route. For timetables and further information please log onto Irish Rail

By Bus
The town of Boyle is serviced by a number of bus routes: For timetables, routes and further information please log onto at Bus Eireann

Lough Key Forest Park History

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.

McDermott’s Castle

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. This little Lough Key castle attraction is certainly one to try out with the family and the boat tours are a must.

Lough Key Boats

Castle 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”

View to Mcdermott Castle

Zippit and Skywalk

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 center and 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.

Adventure Play Kingdom

A Childs delight is the Adventure Play Kingdom at Lough Key. An area of fun as the name describes, with slides, ropes, swings, climbing frames and many activities to keep the kids well entertained.

The castle design only adds to the fun and adventure of this area of the park and only enhancing the areas great entertainment for the kids.

The Lough

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.

Walking Trails

The park has 4 walking trails for you to enjoy. All the tracks and nature walk 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

Lookout Tower

A redeveloped lookout tower namedthe Morlurg tower comes 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

Old Buildings

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.

Refreshments

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.

Beautiful homemade sausage rolls, burgers and scones were a few options. and it’s here we must give credit to the extensive range of vegan options which is great to see.

Note: The restaurant in the visitor centre is due to reopen Easter 2022

Opening Times And Contacts

Opening Times 10am – 7pm

Address: Lough Key Forest and Activity Park
Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Tel: +353 71 967 3122

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And Finally

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 20 euro in cafe or on park activities exit fee is waived.

We enjoyed our day and our walk cant wait to go back and enjoy all that is at Lough Key Forest Park.

Local Tips

Courtyard market

Every Saturday at the Kings House in Boyle Town Center is the Courtyard Markets. Pick up some local veg, treats, products and lots of other produce all organic or homemade.

Boyle Abbey

Boyle Abbey is a Cistercian Monastery from the 12th century founded by monks. The abbey was one of the most powerful of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland.

The 16th century gatehouse has been restored and has been turned into a informative center to learn about the history. funded by heritage Ireland Boyle abbey is free to view.

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.

Take a look at the Oarsman site yourself for menus

Oarsman Flatbread

Thanks for stopping by, its easy to see why Lough Key Forest & Activity Park is our number one pick in our Roscommon Guide and is certainly a popular choice in County Roscommon.

The west of Ireland has many a great places for families to visit, fancy checking out a few more family orientated trips then look no further than our road trip right out west to Doolin. We came up with perfect things to do for all the family.

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The Best Things To Do In Clifden

Clifden

Clifden is the main town in the Connemara region of County Galway a base for many coming out west to visit this beautiful and wild area.

Popular summer destination with tourist and locals to see the unique landscape. Home to a lot great hikes, views and a huge amount of history.

Known for some great traditional Irish pubs,  traditional music and a region in Ireland where you would still hear the Irish language.

Location

Clifden located in Ireland’s way out west in the Connemara region

Getting There

From Galway City to Clifden: Take the N59 road signposted to Clifden. Distance 80km.

From Dublin to Clifden: When coming from Dublin, take the M4 & M6 routes to Galway City. When you reach Galway City, take the N59 road signposted to Clifden.

From Shannon Airport to Clifden: When travelling from Limerick and Shannon use the M18 & N18 routes to Galway City. When you reach Galway City, take the N59 road signposted to Clifden.

From Knock Airport to Clifden: When leaving Knock Airport, take the N5 to Westport. When in Westport, take the N59 road signposted to Clifden.

Diamond Hill

Don’t be fooled by its nice name its a tough slog to the summit of Diamond Hill. But it well worth the final assault to see the views of the Connemara National Park and Valley.

Looking up at Diamond hill

Never fear though there are 3 other tracks for the less experienced hikers and even a track which is friendly for young children.

Diamond Hill Maps

Be prepared wear comfortable appropriate shoes and check ahead for wind conditions. It gets very windy up Diamond Hill and especially with its location on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Kylemore Abbey

One of the jewels in the Connemara region is Kylemore Abbey. One of the most picturesque and striking Manor Houses in Ireland.

The beautiful Kylemore Abbey

See the house, take the walks and  enjoy there extensive walled gardens.

Such a grand building and is known to be one of Irelands most photographic buildings.

Take note as we found out Kylemore Abbey closes January and February, so maybe check ahead if travelling off season.

Sky Road

A beautiful scenic drive along the Wild Atlantic Way. Catch some glorious views, and view some stunning coastal properties.

Looking over the Sky Road and the views

The route is a  circular route, with a distance of 16km from Clifden, onto the Kingstown peninsula, and back into Clifden.

Sky Road Map

It’s on this scenic drive where you will find the Clifden Castle ruins and Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. (See below)

Clifden Castle Ruins

The Clifden Castle ruins is a old Manor House/Castle built in 1818 nestled in the hills of the Wild Atlantic Way.

What lies of the Clifden Castle

Enjoy the 1km windy walk through the countryside with great ocean views rugged landscape before hitting the castle itself.

The walk down to Clifden Castle

As far as ruins go the Clifden Castle structure is very much in tact. See the towers and what use to and the huge courtyard at the back.

Live Music Lowry’s Bar

Lowry’s bar on the main street of Clifden is known for its great live music scene and has become an award winning pub in that category. Add to this the bars impressive selection of Gin’s and Whiskey’s it makes for a interesting night.

A look at the front of Lowry’s music bar

We settled in on a friday for a night of music and drinks and had ample fun. A little clip below shows the music on offer.

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/bsZ1jPj7/video-1646211340.mp4
Live music at Lowry’s

Bog Walk

A bog Walk you may ask ? Well the story behind it is a interesting one.

This particular bog land is where pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown crashed-landed in the bog in 1919 after completing the world’s first transatlantic flight.

They landed close to a wireless telegraphy station which had been set up 14 years earlier by Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. Today this bog location  is home to a memorial dedicated to the pair.

With it 5km walk its an area of beauty and a great look at the rugged Connemara landscape.

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel

Situated 2 minutes drive from the centre of Clifden is a 4 star rated converted castle and manor house. Abbeyglen Castle Hotel was built in 1832 by John d’Arcy the builder of Clifden Castle and founder of Clifden in 1812.

Walking up to the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel

Following the death d’Arcy, his son Mitchen sold the property 1854, during the famine the castle laid derelict until 1969 when the castle was bought and the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel was formed.

Helicopter at Abbeyglen Castle

Today the hotel is known to be  top getaway in the region with romantic breaks, weekend getaways with great food and full of history.

Visit The Boutique Shops

The two main streets of Clifden are lined with a variety of boutique shops. From gifts, art galleries, wine,books and local hand made products its a boutique shoppers dream. With no big chain shops in Clifden you really get amongst the Clifden locals in these places.

Where To Stay In Clifden

The Station House Hotel, situated just off the main streets in town. A hotel steeped on history as it used to be the old steam railway station.

Facilities include bar, restaurant, pool, spa, wellness center, cinema and a museum of the old Clifden steam railway which was once the sight of this hotel. (Note this museum is closed January and February)

Signal Restaurant

As well as well catered modern, stylish rooms. Well maintained, clean and comfortable.

Station House Hotel rooms

Add to all above its reasonable pricing and great location its the perfect location for any getaway.

Grab A Coffee In Clifden

12 Pins Coffee at the church end of the main street is a little boutique coffee shop with a great selection of small chocolate treats from the cabinet which you can see below.

Although 12 pins is not a dine in venue it’s great for a good quality grab and go.

A Great Lunch

Guys restaurant on the main street is a great spot to enjoy a wholesome lunch.

We enjoyed locally caught fish and handcut chips with fresh tartare sauce.

Fish and Chips at Guys restaurant

A further selection of great lunches large or small are available you can View there menu to see for yourself

A Laidbacked Dinner

The Signal Bar located in the Station House Hotel is a relaxed dining experience and one we had the pleasure of enjoying.

You can find out our review of the Signal Bar Here

And Finally

Check out more of our Wild Atlantic Way trips with our road trip to Doolin or our day out to Killala. With more to come soon so stay tuned.

You could also head on over to the Wild Atlantic Way website for some more options on these areas

Hiking Diamond Hill Connemara

Whilst on a road trip through the Wild Atlantic Way we decided to stop off at Clifden for a few days and take the plunge and go hiking the 6.8km trail of Diamond Hill through Connemara National Park and embrace County Galway’s vast mountain scenes, The Diamond Hills stunning summit offering 360 degree views, is an isolated peak overlooking the village of Letterfrack, and the Twelve Bens. 

Location

Located only 15 minutes from the town of Clifden and set in the vilage of Letterrack.

Getting There

From Clifden

Take the N59 (Westport Road) towards Letterfrack. Before entering the village of Letterfrack you will see a sign for the National Park on the right hand side of the road. Turn right here and follow the road to the car park

From Westport

Follow the N59 (Leenane Road) towards Leenane, remain on the N59 to Letterfrack. 200 metres after the village you will find the main entrance for the National Park on your left hand side. Follow the road to the car park.

From Galway

Travel along the N59 to Clifden and then follow the directions above for travel from Clifden to Letterfrack (Distance Approx 93 kms).

The Tracks

The Diamond Hill Hike has 4 tracks green, red, blue and yellow with only the red reaching the summit.

The map of the trails

Green

The green track is a simple easy 0.5km nature trail, great for families and has a attached kids play area.

Yellow

Is a 1.5 km walking track looping at the foot at the hill. Easy conditions well pathed and enjoyable for all.

Blue

The blue track is 3km track with a few climbs, but these climbs are well patbed easily accessed and generally suitable for most people.

Red

The Red track is the most difficult and is the one taking you to the summit. In parts some small climbs are necessary and the tracks can be hard to see but this is only for a short period. All in all a level of fitness is need for this track but it certainly wouldn’t be too difficult.

Note: the tracks link up together meaning that the full length if completing the red track comes to 6.8 km.

Diamond Hill Facts

Elevation: 442 metres

Mountain Range: Twelve Bens

Entry

Entry to the Diamond Hill and Connemara National Park is free of charge and ample parking is provided.

Please respect the national park and always bring away what you take in.

Hike Diamond Hill The Start

Starting at the car park and information centre heading up the hill on the exposed gravel track away from the buildings.

As you can see below these tracks at the start are great and very well maintained.

Diamond Hill start

The First Climb

The first part of hike of Diamond Hill is fairly easy bringing you through bog land, with very minimal imcline. (Leading you into a false sense of security for later)

It’s at this point you really start to feel the rugged and wild and vast nature of this land .

Looking up from the bottom of Diamond Hill

After about half a kilometer you start the first little climb up the south side. This part of the climb is fairly easy the use of stones are in place to climb to easily assist.

The first climb

The First Vantage Point

At the top of the climb is where the views and the sights of this stunning landscape start to show. It really is a moment to stand back and take it all in.

Top Tip: we took to the hill around 9 am and were the only ones there compares to coming down around 11 and it being far busier.

First view

From the first vantage point you head up a few more bends and steps a couple of more breathtaking views, again at the point things are well payhed maintained and accessible for anyone with any general fitness.

More steps leading up

Hitting The Red Route

After getting up through the first few climbs you come to the break off point where you can continue round on the easier yellow and blue routes or march on to the summit and the red route.

Map of the routes

We chose the red route for the summit. As you can see you can see above the route is a loop over the top of the hill.

Top tip: on our climb wind speeds were nearly up at 35 kms the front of the hill climb is exposed to the sea breeze from the Atlantic. Check winds before you leave.

Narrowing Tracks

It’s at this point tracks start to narrow and inclines get a bit harder. Still very manageable though and certainly easy enough

Pathways narrowing to next vantage point

The next point brings you to a ledge for some great views of the Connemara National Park.

The video below shows walking up to the edge you can hear the wind battering us. What you can’t tell from the video is how difficult getting to the ledge. The wind at this point we found at its hardest .

The ledge vantage point

Getting Steep

We had been fairly impressed by how manageable the hike so far had been. But now things were getting steeper, narrower and with the wind causing off balance certainly more challenging.

Narrowing paths

We then started to encounter a few climbs and extremely steep parts, climbing a few rock faces and again trying to succeed these with the wind on our back was a bit challenging.

Climbing the rock faces

A look around for another view of this beautiful landscape and it was time to hit the summit.

Hike The Diamond Hill Summit

The final hike to the summit wasn’t to bad, again other than the wind. It was well maintained and warily accessed

Descending Diamond Hill

And then comes the descent. Firstly this is far easier as the wind is now blocked by the Hill and a chance to catch your breath.

After a few steep steps the view out the back of the mountain is truly amazing. Luckily the weather did play its part along the way.

View at the back of Diamond Mountain

Once you turn a little corner your view shines out towards Polladirk Valley, such a vast and striking landscape. With the stream of water running through the mountains and only the sounds of water running this is a great place to stop and reflect.

Polladirk Valley

The walk does starts to get much easier from here on in. The include is still fairly steep, however the well pathed tracks make it a whole lot easier.

The Finish

Refuel

At the bottom there is cafe and toilets, with benches and a area to rest and refuel. Also located here is a tourist information centre.

Hungry Hiker cafe
Picnic and cafe seating

Other Local Attractions

Kylemore Abbey

Located just 5 minutes away is the stunning mahor House Kylemore Abbey.

The Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens were Originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift.

Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history.

Open to the public Kylemore Abbey offer a Gothic Church, the spectacular Victorian Walled Gardens, a working Craft Shop, Restaurant and Tea Rooms not forgetting the Lake and Woodland walks.

Sky Road

Take the Sky Road from Clifden to Letterfrack see stunning views across the Wild Atlantic Way and western coastline.

The Clifden castme ruins is also located on this road take the walk down to this 19th building and see this once Castle and Manor House.

Where To Stay

The Station House Hotel in Clifden is the perfect choice.

The once Galway Clifden railway which was built on 1895 and closed in 1935 the buildings where used by Millars Connemara tweed Mills until the early 90’s and then laid derelict until 1998 when businessman Johen Sweeney bought the site and redeveloped it using all the original buildings. Like the old stationmasters house which is now the hotel restaurant “Signal Restaurant”.

Such facilities sr the hotel include

  • Signal restaurant
  • Theatre
  • Gym
  • Renew Health and Beauty
  • Pool and jacuzzi
  • Lounge Bar
  • Shopping
  • Conference rooms

See Station House Hotel website HERE

More Wild Atlantic Way

This isn’t the only part of the Wild Atlantic Way we have done we have also, had a road trip to the picturesque village of Doolin and the legendary Cliffs of Moher. See our Road Trip. Further to the North West corner we experienced the historical town of Killala also steeped in history.

Glendeer Pet Farm, Athlone

Glendeer Pet Farm

Glendeer Pet farm is a top entertainment and day adventure for kids in County Roscommon. Open to the public to come and enjoy this working farm and kids play areas.

Location

Located 15 minutes outside the town of Athlone. Although considered County Roscommon the pet farm is closer to Athlone town and is on the borders of County Westmeath and County Galway.

Getting There

From Dublin

Follow the signs for Galway until you are on the M6 Take Exit 13(Tuam/Monksland exit). After taking Exit 13, at roundabout, take the 2nd exit (signposted Drum) and continue on to another roundabout where you take the 1st exit (Drum), you take the next turn right for Drum and the farm is 3 kms up the road on the left hand side.

From Roscommon

Continue straight at the roundabout at Ganly’s Hardware Store (signposted Athlone), keep going straight until you come to the next right take the right , continue until you come to a roundabout, take the 1st exit (signposted Drum) and continue on to another roundabout, take the 1st exit again (Drum), then take the next right for Drum & Glendeer Farm is 3 kms up that road on the left.

From Galway

Head for Athlone (following Dublin signs) & take the 1st slipway off motorway signposted Exit 13 (Athlone west). Continue to the 1st roundabout take the 2nd exit (Athlone/Galway), at the 2nd roundabout take the 3rd exit (Drum) & at the 3rd roundabout take the 1st exit (Drum), after that roundabout you take the next turn right for Drum and the farm is 3kms up the road on the left hand side.

Entry

Entry to the farm is $9 for children and under 18 months are free. On entry the child gets a free bag of feed to feed pet the animals and more is available at any time for purchase

The animals at Glendeer

The trek round the farm runs in a continuous flow veering through local and some non native animals. Starting off with a host of pens with lots of hunger and eager, but friendly animals. The first section has goats, hens, deer, emus, ducks, monkeys and even a bearded dragon (Beware the Emus they love to peck at the hands)

The second section leads into a barn area where all the local and native pigs and lazing around and playing in the mud this area also provides a entrance into a indoor play area, which we will touch on in the another section.

Continuing round the farm leads out into the open fields. Its at this point you find the two best mate donkeys. (see below) They love the attention and are so friendly and love getting a pet. This area also has Alpacas, horses, cows and the Belted Galloway. Those not familiar with a Belted Galloway, it is a breed of Scottish cow that adapted itself to living on the poor and windy moorlands. The final one came on the biggest journey of all the Wallaby a native Australian animal.

The final area of the farm shows you meerkats and pheasants with a selection of wild birds. The meerkats love to run and play and cause a nuisance.

A visit to Glendeer Pet Farm is a fun, family day out…it’s animals interaction at its’ best!

Glendeer Website

Kids entertainment at the farm

Glendeer is packed full of kids entertainment with large outdoor play area full, of mazes, glider swings, slides and a whole host of things to keep them entertained.

The Inside areas include ball pits and slides. You will certainly have no trouble keeping the little ones entertained

The Cottage

At the back of the farm one of the unique features is this  beautifully restored 1850s cottage. With original features including fully equipped kitchen all in place.

A great feature for the farm and so well maintained and kept, all so unique.

The fairy trail

Located right at the back of the farm is the fairy trail. A peaceful nature walk that marks part of an old mass path. Kids will love finding the many fairy doors and toad stools along the trail and with the new hobbit village at the start of the trail. Find woven willow huts, some hobbit houses, swing, tight rope and a few more surprises.

Refreshments

Glendeer Pet Farm has its own on site coffee shop and cafe, serving up snacks, sandwiches, treats and refreshments. Equally there are plenty of picnic areas about to bring your own and enjoy the outside farm life as you refuel.

Details

Glendeer Pet Farm, Curryroe, Drum, Athlone, Co. Roscommon N37HY39

Phone : +353 (0)90 6437147
E-mail : info@glendeerpetfarm.ie 

Other Local Attractions

Go see the 12th century Athlone Castle located in the heart of Athlone town centre, with it’s prominent position on the rivers edge. If castles are your thing 20 minutes north your find Roscommon Castle also located just outside the town centre.

Within 20 minutes you are at the Mote Park conservation area and walking tracks. With over 1km of tracks through through the forest with bluebell walks and fairueergy.

Located on the Hudson Bay hotel site on the river only 5 minutes from Athlone lies Baysports Ireland’s largest floating waterpark. Yes that’s right floating water park, with room for toddlers and teenagers alike a whole host of obstacles and fun to be had.

2021 Travel Roundup

A year of limited travel

Our 2021 travel roundup, a year after the pandemic started we were hopeful of some travel after a disruptive 2020 and a lot of cancellations. But just as the year started the waves of the virus kept coming and with a young family and new born we were staying put.

Staying Local

Not to be disheartened and a desire for adventure 2021 become the second year of local travel. To be honest, and being relatively new to Ireland thèse opportunities to travel our own locality have actually been most enjoyable.

Staying in our own county

The first 6 months was a full lockdown here in Ireland so movement was limited but we took to Google and found some local sites within this beautiful country.

Slibth Bawn wind farm

After moving house late 2020 our location brought us to just outside Roscommon. Surrounded by hillside the only negative of the move was the dozen or so wind turbines in the background.

Although a bit of a eyesore we proceeded with the move.

Embracing the wind farm

Call it an eye sore or what you like the wind turbines were part of life now, so with that in mind embracing was our best move. So one morning we headed up as we had heard there was a walking track and stunning views up there.

Slibth Bawn wind farm

The turbines as big as they look on the hills are even bigger close up. And to be quite honest I was fascinated by the engineering involved in these.

Slibth Bawn walks

Walking tracks through the hills and wind farm are very well maintained and actually very pleasant, with great views, enchanting forest and even some religious sites to be seen.

Slibth Bawn walking tracks

Portrunny Bay

Anither visit of ours was Poŕtrunny Bay located on the South West corer of Lough Ree. Another local site less than 20 minutes from us.

Great walks and views and seems a ever popular spot for fishing and people taking sails on boats.

Portrunny Bay

Australia Catch Up

With the lockdown in place it did allow to get in front in our writing and catching up and finishing with our Australia content.

We looked T the ultimate Gold Coast guide with the Top 40 Things To Do. Continuing the Gold Coast we looked at the best restaurants, cafes and the great area of Mountain Tamborine

Restaurant Guides

Another lockdown idea was to launch a restaurant and cafe guide section reviewing some of recommendations and choices from around the world. A topic we hope to really get going in 2022 and look to open up to other people to add reviews to build a large database.

Here are a few examples below of our restaurant reviews

And some of our cafes.

Navan Back on The Road

Early summer saw us head east for a family getaway.  Navan was the base we a few local points we wanted to visit and close to Dublin.

Causey Farm

Starting off at the farm for the kids to enjoy was a necessity after the drive. Lots of the usual irish farm animals, hoats  cows,pigs and donkeys, petting and feeding for the kids.

Causey Farm

Walks around the grounds with mazes a and kids activities around every corner. A huge plot of land which has been so well executed into a fun and interactive day for the kids.

Causey Farm adventure walk

Bective Stud

We chose a stay in a active stud farm, if not by chance we got lucky as Bective Stud was amazing. The stud farm itself is new in the last few yes and even for someone who knows nothing about horses the money and facilities gone into it were impressive.

Bective Stud

The apartments were unreal the decor, cleanliness and comfort were all first class. The grounds around which are available to roam around in are so well kept and perfect to get out in the fresh air.

Bective Stud accommodation

Make a booking at Bective Stud

Hill of Tara

A late afternoon drive took us to the Hill of Tara, renowned for its ancient ceremonial and burial site and not to mention the stunning views out over the Navan countryside and beyond.

Hill of Tara view

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo was next on the agenda. With the ongoing pandemic, restrictions were in place and all indoor shows and animals were a no go.

Dublin Zoo adventure

A one way system was in place which was fine, we did find a lot of empty areas not sure if this is because of the pandemic or just areas which haven’t been field. Nonetheless we had fun and the kids loved it.

Maybe check ahead before booking and see what’s available.

Make a booking via Dublin Zoo.

Westport weekend

A weekend kid free, this was more of a reconasnce mission to find out about this town we had heard so much about, restrictions were still in place but nonetheless walking, exploring, eating and drinking were on the agenda.

Knockranny House

We chose Knockranny House, close to town and a 4 star rating we thought we would treat ourselves. If truth be told although certainly not a bad hotel the Knockranny certainly needs bringing up to the 21st century. Very outdated rooms and food that is in real need of modernising.

Knockranny House Hotel

It didn’t ruin the weekend but at $300 a night there is certainly better value.

We walked the streets and impressive back streets of Westport and visited the grounds of Westport House and this was all rather picturesque place to visit.

Westport streets

This whole trip quick trip gave us some great insight for a longer trip planned for 2022, so stay tuned.

Road trip

Late October we set of on a little road trip from home in Roscommon via Galway and the off down part of Wild Atlantic way to Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher.

Doolin

We stayed in the little town of Doolin, a colourful little town, full of great traditional pubs and eateries. With access to the Cliffs of Moher walk, the Doolin pier with ferries to the Aran Islands and the Great Doolin Caves.

Doolin village

We hit the jackpot in a excellent Airbnb with beautiful views of the rugged wild west coastline. Brilliantlyexecuted and equipped stay and well worth recommending to anyone.

Airbnb Doolin

Make sure you book your Stay.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

We got to see one of Irelands most famous features the legendary Cliffs of Moher. Albeit a challenge with two small children we found this great hack in Guerins Path a little unknown car park metres from the top of the Cliffs and half the price of the main car park.

Guerins Path

It meant we avoided the walk, although the walk itself is far better and one we wanted to do with a young family it was a perfect option.

Castles

If there is one thing Ireland has an abundance of is castles. They say around 30,000 in total. There are do many striking with many restored, but many in ruins we want to tick some off. Here is the ones we did.

Only 29,994 to go !!!

Moving into 2022

We had said an early trip to Lisbon was on the cards but due to the surge of Omicron wave and and PCR testing and quarantine we opted to delay and save for a later date.

A long awaited trip back to the UK is certainly on the cards and we keep the fingers crossed for some potential European this summer.

And then there is Ireland with the success of the family road trip, possibly trips to Donegal and down to the Ring of Kerry are high up on the list.

And that’s it for now

So that’s it for our 2021 travel roundup, hopefully this time next year we will bring you more adventures from our year. Come by and keep up to date with our Instagram and Twitter so you don’t miss a thing

Stay safe and happy travels

Richard and Michelle

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