As the weather starts to turn cooler and Autumn begins to take hold, we asked our readers to share their favourite Autumn Walks for Families in Ireland where you can race through leaves, find conkers to play with, climb trees and explore and enjoy nature during this wonderful season. See below our pick of the best autumn walks for families in Ireland. Best of all, they are all free to visit.
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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. And best of all they have toilets and a cafe on-site for a hot drink afterwards.
Hazelwood Demesne, Sligo
The Hazelwood Demesne offers picturesque walks, suitable for all the family, around the shores of Lough Gill in Sligo. There are several different walks, including the ‘Sculpture Tour’ where you will find wooden sculptures from Irish and international artists running alongside the track.
During Autumn, the children will love to kick their way through the fallen leaves and you can enjoy watching the ever changing reflection of trees and clouds in the waters of Lough Gill. While you are there, you can also see how many islands you can spot!
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Coole Park, Galway
Home to the Autograph Tree, a beautiful walled garden and the remains of Coole House the ancestral home of Lady Gregory, Coole Park and the Garryland Nature Reserve are a delight to visit at any time during the year. But come Autumn, when the leaves start to fall and the lake has refilled, it is particularly beautiful. There are 7 woods to explore and designated walkways with distances shown for each one.
The woods themselves are a traffic free zone, so the kids can roam freely and there are public toilets near to the visitor centre. When the visitor centre is open, you can enjoy a free tour giving you a brief history of Coole Park and learn about Lady Gregory and her family. The museum is full of beautiful artefacts and nature objects. And there is also a cafe. Look out for the deer in the enclosure near the visitor centre, and you may be lucky enough to spot some of the swans Yeats immortalised in his poetry on the Turlough.
The Flaggy Shore, Clare
For a coastal family walk, head to New Quay, just off the N67 Kinvara/Ballyvaughn road in the beautiful Burren. Step back in time, as you take this stunning walk, with the wild Atlantic ocean to one side and the limestone rocks of the Burren to the other.
This loop walk brings you from New Quay to Finavarra Point and is suitable for all members of the family. You can choose to walk along the beach or stroll along the quite road. Be sure to visit the well preserved Martello tower at Finavarra Point and check out the rocks to see if you can find any fossils.
Killarney National Park, Kerry
With Torc Waterfall, Muckross Gardens, lakes galore and the McGillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a family walk in the Killarney National Park.
Personally, I love the walk from Muckross House to Torc Waterfall, which consists of paved and clay walkways. The loop is approximately 4km and is signposted off the main Muckross Lake Loop walk. Be sure to look out for the deer and the squirrels, who roam freely in the park.
Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford
Mum Carmel recommended Johnstown Castle Estate as one of her family’s favourite walks. The estate gardens were designed by Daniel Robertson, who designed the gardens at Powerscourt Estate in neighbouring Wicklow, and offer a variety of different walks, from a stroll around the Victorian walled garden to longer walks around the lake and through the surrounding trees.
The castle itself is not currently open to the public and there is a small charge in high season to visit the grounds. During this time, you can also access the Irish Agricultural Museum. Carmel says her children love spotting the Peacocks that wander around the grounds and seeing the swans and ducks that live on the lake.
Bushy Park, Dublin
Bushy Park in Terenure, South Dublin was a popular choice when we asked parents to recommend the best walks for families in Ireland. It sits alongside the Dodder River and covers over 20 hectares. A variety of activities take place including tennis, boules, play areas and a purpose build skatepark open to skateboarders, BMX bikes and skaters.
What makes it great for an Autumn walk is the Native Tree Trail, with over 15 native tree signposts dotted throughout the park, you can download a booklet and do a walking trail to find them all.
Ardgillan Castle and Demesne, Dublin
I have to agree with mum Eimear when she says that Ardgillan Castle and Demesne in North County Dublin really does have it all. An amazing adventure playground, acres of woodland, a castle, several gardens, including a Rose garden, wildlife, a fairy trail and all overlooking the Irish Sea.
It is the perfect place for an Autumn walk with the family and kids of all ages will enjoy the day out. There are also regular family events and classes to attend.
Tollymore Forest Park, Northern Ireland
Mum Lisa wrote in to tell us about Tollymore Forest Park near Newcastle. It sits at the base of the Mourne Mountains and has no less than 16 bridges crossing the river Shimna, which flows through the park. There are four designated walking trails, the longest of which is 8km and the shortest is just 1km. All the trails are clearly marked and begin and end in the car park.
There is lots to explore throughout the park including follies, gothic gates, Clanbrassil barn, the King’s Grave, the White Fort, wild deer, squirrels, ducks and other birds and Lisa tells us to visit the Arboretum which is reputed to be one of the oldest in Ireland.
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Have you been on any of these walks for families in Ireland? Please share your experiences with us in the comments box below or share your favourite place for a family walk.