Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Walking in Carlow

Walking visitors to County Carlow, Ireland will be spoiled by the diverse array of options on offer from forest parks to mountain ranges. Carlow is the perfect destination to explore on foot.

For some of the finest views of the area, follow any one of the county's three national walking routes - The South Leinster, The Barrow or Wicklow Ways. The Barrow Way follows the tow path, originally a path alongside the River Barrow to allow the pulling of barges or boats for transport. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy excellent flat walking passing good land where tillage and cattle farming is predominant. The path offers much of architectural interest to the visitor - bridges, many arched, and pretty lock houses, some still in use. The full length of the Barrow Way from Lowton to St. Mullins is 113 kilometers (70 miles). Alternatively, the route can be easily explored by taking short sections of the walk in a series of daily trips. Accommodation is available at regular intervals along the towpath and varies from hotels to self-catering and bed and breakfasts.

Serious hikers will enjoy the challenge of the South Leinster and Wicklow Ways. Starting in the village of Kildavin in east Carlow, the South Leinster Way crosses the northern sloped of Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountains before joining the Barrow Towpath in Borris for a more leisurely 12km walk to the abbey town of Graignamagh. From there the route crosses the slopes of Mount Brandon by a series of walks before reaching the pretty village of Inistioge. The walk then continues along the banks of the Rivers Nore and Blackwater via forest roads and seveal hills to reach the town of Carrick-on-Suir in South Tipperary. The walk covers 102 kilometers (64 miles) in length with the predominant features in the landscape being Mount Leinster, Brandon Hill and the river valleys of the Barrow, Nore and Suir.

The Wicklow Way covers a distance of 82 miles in length commencing in Marley Park, Dublin and finishing in the beautiful village of Clonegal located in the River Slaney valley in the east of the county. A combination of suburban parkland, forest trails, wild and scenic mountain landscape and finally rolling countrside offers wonderfully varied 8-10 day experience for a hill-walked of average fitness. Variety in buildings and wildlife is a great characteristic of this route with regular sightings of red deer, silka deer, hares, foxes, sqirrels and badgers.

Carlow now enjoys a growing selection of walks under the National Looped Walks initiative. Three recent additions include Oak Park Forest Park, Kilbrannish Forest Recreation Are and Clogrebbabe Wood.

Situated on the outskirts of Carlow Town, Oak Park Forest Park is an oasis of tranquility and a popular destination for walkers and joggers. The park is a mature mixed species woodland of over 120 acres with a predominance of beech, oak, scots pine, silver fir, larch and sycamore. The proximity of the walkways to the extensive collection of ferns, mosses and woodland flora provides the walker with an ideal opportunity to interact with nature.

Kilbrannish Forest Loop on the Blackstairs Mountains features two signposted trails - the Windfarm Loop is 3km in length with a good surface and uphill sections. Four large wind turbines fill the skyline on the summit of nearby Greenoge Hill. The Kilbrannish Forest Loop is 5 kilometers in length, again with a good surface underneath and uphill sections taking about 2 hours to complete. The route offers wonderful views of the surrounding countryside -walkers following the Kilbrannish Forest Loop will be rearded with particularly fine views from the summit of Croaghaun northwards over the plains of Carlow with the villages and towns of Myshall and Tullow spread out below. The route can be accessed from Borris, Myshall or Bunclody while a large car park and picnic facilities are available to visitors.

Clogrennane Wood near Carlow town offers the user a gentle sloping 4 km walk on forest roads with magnificent views of Carlow town and the River Barrow on a fine day. The area is an old wood and has had forestry cover present since the 1800s. The predominant tree species in Clogrennane are beech, spruce, larch and oak with vegetation consistent with that of an old woodland-bluebells, ferns, wild garlic and herb rocket.

Whether wanting a 8 day walking vacation, an afternoon hike through a forest or fabulous views, check out County Carlow! Start planning your your vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

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