With the arrival of Spring the days are brighter for longer and outdoors comes alive with nature. As the weather begins to improve, we asked our readers to share some of their favourite Spring walks for families in Ireland to get everyone outdoors and active.
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From farmyard animals to bluebells and daffodils that create the perfect seasonal backdrop, these Spring walks for families in Ireland are a wonderful way to spend some time together.
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Spring Walks for Families to Enjoy
Fota House Arboretum & Gardens, Cork
A Spring visit to Fota House is a real adventure for the whole family. You can explore the working Victorian garden, go on a honey bee adventure, go on a plant hunters trail or a little explorers trail, dig for history and be entertained by stories from the volunteers who keep it all running.
After your walk you could visit the house and take a tour with lots of activities to keep the kids and adults amused.
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Phoenix Park, Dublin
Right on our doorstep we have one of Europe’s largest enclosed urban parks, the Phoenix Park, which is a fantastic place for family walks. With about 30% of the Phoenix Park covered by trees such as oak, ash, lime, beech, sycamore and horse chestnut there is plenty to see and show the children on a family Spring walk.
Among the 351 different plant species to be found in the Park there are three, which are rare and protected. The Park has retained almost all of its old grasslands and woodlands and also has rare examples of wetlands. It is also home to over 500 wild deer which can be seen throughout the park.
There are extensive walking trails throughout the Park and the south western corner of the park is known as the Furry Glen and has a series of short walks centred around a small lake with birds, plants and wildlife. Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo.
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Newbridge Park, Donabate
Mum Kellie recommends Newbridge Park in Donabate as perfect for a Spring walk with the family as there is lots to see and do with farm animals, woodland walks and a fun playground.
There is the added bonus of toilets on-site and you can have a day packed full of adventure!
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Doneraile Wildlife Park, Cork
A few of our parents recommended Doneraile as a fun place to go for a Spring walk with the kids. It has a small garden maze and entry is free.
There are acres of parklands with many accessible pathways, along with water features, woodlands and gardens landscaped in the style of Capability Brown.
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Slieve Gullion, Newry
This one got a few recommendations for a fantastic free day out with a massive adventure playground, an amazing fairy trail walk, a Giant’s Lair, Woodland walks and a Walled Garden to explore as nature comes to life in Spring.
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Red Island, Skerries, Dublin
Mum Therese told us that if you like a nice family walk, then Red Island in Skerries is one of the best. A good place to start is at the monument at the northern end of Skerries main street where a side road leads to the shore. Walk southwards along the beach.
The island to the south is Shenick’s island and it is possible to walk out to it at low tide. On the northern side of the island the rocks will often show bands of colour which is very beautiful. The road back to town takes you past the busy harbour.
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Land of the Giants, Claremorris, Mayo
Within walking distance from the town of Claremorris you will find the Land of the Giants, says dad Declan. It is an amazing park set around a lake with ducks (so be sure to pack something to feed them).
For the perfect Spring walk, follow the 4k route past a giant chair, giant wellies, giant keys hanging from a tree, a giant chair, knight a train and a maze. A real wonder for children of all ages and totally free to visit.
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Strokestown Park, Roscommon
Strokestown Park is a super place for a spring walk with parklands to run about or fly a kite in.
If you pay entry to the House you can also enjoy 6 acres of Walled Gardens and woodlands, the Irish National Famine Museum, and the beautiful House itself where you can get a glimpse of what life “upstairs and downstairs” was like. There’s also a cafe for post-walk refreshments.
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Glenveagh National Park, Donegal
Aisling told us we had to visit Glenveagh National Park for a Spring family walk. There are plenty of routes to walk and you can visit the castle for a reasonable price. She advised us to pack a picnic and spend the day exploring.
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Glenteenassig Wood, Kerry
With an upper and lower lake to discover Hilary told us it was one of her favourite places to go for a walk with the family any time of the year. The drive there is slow going as the road is very narrow but it is well worth it! There is a boardwalk around the upper lake and some picnic benches where you sit and enjoy the scenery on warmer days.
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Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon
We love Lough Key Forest Park with its lake and acres of grounds to explore. It is the ideal place for walks with the family as it has established walking and cycle routes and trails, each with a difficulty level and the expected time it will take to complete.
As there is no traffic, it is also totally safe to let the kids run ahead and explore the many different trees and plants that surround you during the Spring. And best of all they have toilets and a cafe on-site for refreshments afterwards.
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Lough Boora Discovery Park, Offaly
For something unique, visit Lough Boora Discovery Park, one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Ireland – go to the site of the ancient settlement by following the Mesolithic Route.
There are walkways and walking trails, a fairy trail, sculptures, picnic benches, cycle tracks, angling, bird watching and a bike hire facility. Guided tours also available.
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Brigit’s Garden, Galway
Sophia had a few suggestions for Galway, including a trip to Brigit’s Garden where you can learn more about Celtic heritage.
Kids love it as there are 11 acres of gardens for them to run around in safely and lots to explore, including a children’s discovery trail, willow play area and sandpit, nature trail, ring-fort and crannog, gift shop and the award-winning, family-friendly Garden Café.
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Emo Court & Gardens, Laois
Emo Court, near Emo village, Laois, was designed by the architect James Gandon in 1790 for the Earls of Portarlington and is a magnificent example of this neo-classical style. The house, which is accessible by guided tour only, is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland which were first laid out in the 18th century and contain formal lawns, a lake and woodland walks with many very fine trees and shrubs.
For a great Spring walk take the 2.2km walking loop of the 20-acre man made lake, which includes foot bridges and pathways perfect for exploring. The gardens are open all year and entry to the gardens is free. The tearooms in the walled garden are worth a visit.
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Killykeen Forest Park, Cavan
Mum Sophia told us about Killykeen Forest Park in Cavan where they have some impressive forest walks perfect for a Spring walk with the family.
Entry is free and there is an option to do some watersports on Lough Oughter including boating, kayaking and fishing. If you want to go further Sophia told us to pack the bikes and take the family cycle trail.
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Avondale Forest Park, Wicklow
With 500 acres, Avondale Forest Park in Wicklow has an endless variety of walks with fabulous scenery perfect for a Spring family walk. The park has four way-marked walking trails as well as a family cycling trail. There’s a lovely wooden playground area with swings, slides and climbing frames. Sure to be lots of opportunities for wildlife and bird spotting!
You can also visit Avondale House, the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell – admission cost applies.
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Irish National Stud, Kildare
Enjoy a great day out for all the family at the Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare. Just off the M7 motorway and only 30 minutes by car from Dublin and the M50, the Irish National Stud offers an unforgettable experience in 800 acres of beautiful Kildare countryside that can be enjoyed by all the family.
It is a unique attraction of outstanding natural beauty with some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous gardens to be found anywhere in the world, including the beautiful Japanese Gardens and St Fiachra’s Garden. Be sure to tour the Horse Museum and explore the magical ‘fairy trail’ in the woodland area, and afterwards let the kids run off some steam at the playground.
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Altamont Gardens, Carlow
Known as the most romantic garden in Ireland, Altamont, near Tullow, is an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100 acre estate. Whilst still little known, it ranks in the top ten of Irish gardens and is often referred to as ‘the jewel in Ireland’s gardening crown’.
The formal lawns slope down to a romantic lake, and there’s a fascinating walk, which kids love, through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen. There are picnic areas, and a garden centre with tea-rooms and it is a beautiful place for a Spring family walk.
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Tralee Bay Wetlands, Kerry
Mum Eileen told us that around the lake in Tralee Bay Wetlands is great for a Spring walk with little ones, especially if you have a buggy in tow. You can also play king of the castle in the viewing tower, sit in a bird hide, visit the state of the art interactive wildlife exhibits, take a guided nature boat tour and go on the nature board walk, where you can get up close with plants, insects and small mammals!
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The Botanic Gardens, Dublin
Free entry and Trish told us there is a cheap car park nearby. “Our 2 (3 & 6) love it. Love running around, climbing trees, seeing all the different flowers. They love the massive tropical greenhouse and you can feed the ducks” – making it the perfect place for a Spring visit.
Wicklow Trails, Wicklow
The Wicklow Partnership has created a Wicklow Trails Passport to download and discover 5 family friendly fun nature walking trails.
The trails are all near the villages of Laragh and Rathdrum and are suitable for all levels of fitness and ages.
By following the trials you will get information and facts about your route along with duration and estimated time to complete. Best of all for children, they can get each route stamped on completion and send off their map to gain a certificate that qualifies them as a Wicklow Explorer! You can download the maps here.
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Knockma Hill and Castle Hackett, Galway
Knockma Hill just outside Belclare in Co. Galway is a magical place to spend a Spring day. It is reputed to be one of three possible burial sites for Queen Maeve and was home to Finvarra, King of the Connacht fairies.
The hill is partially covered in woodland and has fairy doors situated throughout. There is an easy walking route to the top which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. And you can explore the ruins of Castle Hackett too.
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Have your say! Where is your favourite place for Spring walks for families in Ireland? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!