Get Your Walking Boots On and Take to the Great Outdoors This Christmas

Coillte Ireland's national forestry company, is encouraging people to take to the great outdoors during the holiday season and make use of the extensive Coillte forest parks and trail networks across the countryside. With over 2,000kms of walking trails, 150 recreation sites, 12 forest parks and five Coillte mountain bike trails, there is something for everyone to enjoy and stay active.

Bill Murphy, Coillte Head of Recreation, Environment and Public Goods said, "At this time of year the forests can be quite magical. We hope the public will take advantage of the great outdoors over the Christmas period, explore native wildlife and enjoy some of Coillte's many recreation sites around the country."

Coillte is Ireland's largest provider of outdoor recreation and provides great opportunities for walking, hiking, mountain horse riding and nature watching.

"Whether you're planning a family day out, or looking for somewhere pleasant to walk off the Christmas excess Coillte Forests are great places to explore by foot or by bike." said Bill Murphy, "For something more physically demanding there are many mountain bike trails through the forest to enjoy including the Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails, one of the most exciting and extensive bike trails in Europe.Don't forget to wrap up warm and be prepared for the cold! Bring a warm drink and a snack and let someone know where you are going."

For full information on tracks, trails, forest parks and recreational sites located nearby, as well as information on wheelchair and buggy accessibility, see www.coillteoutdoors.ie

Coillte Forest Parks

Coillte Forest Parks offer a wonderful array of facilities including children's playgrounds, marked walking and cycling trails alongside scenic woodlands. They are ideal places to take the family on a ramble, spot some nature, and get some fresh air into the lungs over the Christmas holiday season.

1) Ards Forest Park, Donegal

Ards forest Forest Park is situated 5km north of Creeslough on the N56. There several walking trails, including the Binngorm trail, the Salt Marsh Trail and the Sand Dune Trail, which offer great views out across to the sea.

2) Dun a Ri Forest Park, Cavan

Dun a Ri Forest Park is situated north of Kingscourt on the R179 to Carrickmacross. There are four signposted walks in Dun a Ri Forest Park as well as a duck pond and lake.

3) Killykeen Forest Park, Cavan

Killykeen Forest Park is located on the shore of Lough Oughter in the lake district of Co Cavan. The scenic Forest Park lies on the shores of Lough Oughter. As well as walking trails that lead through dark forests, over bridges and along river banks, there is a children's playground.

4) Rossmore Forest Park, Monaghan

Rossmore Forest Park is located 3.5km south west of Monaghan town. The park has forest and lakeside walks where a wide variety of nature is on show.

5) Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon

Lough Key Forest Park is located on the N4 13km west of Carrick on Shannon and 4 km east of Boyle. In addition to the numerous trails through 350 hectare parkland, Lough Key has many other activities for all the family including Tree Canopy Walk, Boda Borg (weather dependent), Lakeside Café, and the Adventure Play Kingdom. See www.loughkey.ie

6) Portumna Forest

The Park is adjacent to Portumna town, Co. Galway on the northern side of Lough Derg. There are 4 looped trails in Portumna Forest Park ranging from a multi-access trail suitable for all visitors of approx 1km length, to a long multi-use trail of over 10kms for walkers and cyclists.

7) Donadea Forest Park, Kildare

The Park is located 8 KM south of Kilcock on R407 to Naas and is approximately 640 acres in size. Donadea has abundant wildlife, many walks including the 5km Aylmer loop, the lake walk (wheelchair accessible) and a nature trail with stops. There are also many historical features, including the There are many historical features including the remains of the castle, walled gardens, church, tower, ice house, boat house and Lime Tree Avenue to be seen.

8) Avondale Forest Walk, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Avondale Forest Park, famed for its variety of trees as well as Charles Stuart Parnell's home stead. It provides a variety of tree trails and walks ranging in duration from one to five hours, passing through a wide variety of species of trees including Maple, Beech, Oak, Douglas and Silver fir, Pines, Cedars and Larches. Avondale is home to most of our common woodland animals including red squirrel, badger, hedgehog, stoat, fox, rabbit and hare along with a rich bird life with over ninety species having been recorded here.

9) Curragh Chase Forest Park, Limerick

Curragh Chase Forest Park is located 22km west of Limerick on the N69 coast road close to Kilcornan and Askeaton. There are a number of looped way marked trails in the park to suit all visitors. They vary from the multi-access trails suitable for wheelchair users and family walkers to the longer Curragh and Glenisca trails suitable for those looking for more demanding walking and cycling.

10) Farran Forest Park, Cork

Farran Forest Park is located 20km west of Cork city and just north of the N22 towards Macroom.There are 2 waymarked looped forest trails in the park; with a children's playground just a short distance from the car park, which has an adventure trail to captivate the imagination of the adventurous and energetic children.

11) Gougane Barra Forest Park

Gougane is located 7 km south west of Ballingeary, off the R584 in County Cork. The name Guagán Barra means 'Rock cleft of St. Finbar'. St Finbarr built his monastery on the lake island in the 6th century. There is an Oratory on the island close to the entrance of the Forest Park which is to this day a major site of worship.Gougane Barra was developed as a forest park in the early 60's and was officially opened in 1966. It is unique in having a looped motor trail of almost 5 km with spectacular views of the deep valley and its walled sides. Walking in Guagán is an energetic undertaking but one can be assured that it is a rewarding experience. There are 6 different trails to whet the appetite of the walking enthusiast. These are of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. Each one has its own story to tell and show off the spectacular panoramas of mountain, valley, stream and lake.

12) Cavan Burren Park

Cavan Burren Park is a new park opened earlier this year in partnership with Cavan County Council. There are a number of trails throughout the park, which is dotted with unique geological features and important national monuments.

Coillte Mountain Bike Trails

Cycling and mountain bike trails from easy to challenging trails are available for public use at the following locations:

  1. Ballinasloe Co. Wicklow.
  2. Derroura Co. Galway.
  3. Ballyhoura Co. Limerick.
  4. Portumna Forest Park, Galway.
  5. Ticknock Mountain Bike Trails, Dublin.

Our aim is to provide authentic and fun trails in different environments and landscapes, appealing to as wide a range of visitors as possible.

Source: Coillte - Get Your Walking Boots On and Take to the Great Outdoors This Christmas

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