MAP: OS of Ireland 1:50,000 Discovery 60; downloadable map/instructions at discover ireland.ie/walking; mobile app downloadable at everytrail. com. GPS: satmap.com.
TRAVEL: Bus Service 8 (Cork-Cashel-Dublin; buseireann.ie). Road: M7, N77 to Durrow.
WALK DIRECTIONS: Through Castle Durrow gates and up drive; in 100m, right past gate; follow 'Dunmore Loop', green arrows/GA. Path beside Erkina River; in 1km, right across footbridge (GA); on through woods to reach country road.
Ahead to R434, left (GA) for 200m; right (GA) along L1652. In 300m demesne wall appears on left; in another 50m, left through wall (GA); on through Dunmore Wood.
At forest road, left (GA); follow this for 4.5km (GAs) across River Gully, through Dunmore Wood and beside River Nore to New Bridge.
Cross N77 here; on beside Nore. Below Knockatrina House ruin, bear right away from river; cross stile, left into woods (GA) to N77. Cross it; turn right for 150m to Durrow Brick monument.
Left through barrier just beyond; right up forest track. Continue to road, right into Durrow; left at T-junction into village centre.
LENGTH: 15km/9 miles. Allow 4 hours.
TERRAIN: Forest tracks, field paths; some muddy sections in woodland.
WATCH OUT FOR :
Celandines and bluebells in the woods.
The eerie ruin of Knockatrina House, built for Robert Flower (1836-1919), heir of the Castle Durrow estates.
Beautiful meeting of Erkina and Nore rivers.
PITSTOP: Bob's Bar, Durrow (087 616 5484 or 057 873 6630), for stout and chat; Castle Arms for soup and sandwiches; Castle Durrow Hotel tearoom to open later this year.
ROOM FOR THE NIGHT: Castle Arms Hotel (057 873 6117; castlearmshotel.ie). Doubles from €80.
Ashbrook Arms Townhouse (057 874 0989; ashbrook arms.com). Doubles from €100. Two family-run hotels in village centre.
Castle Durrow Hotel (057 873 6555; castledurrow.com) -- magnificent refurbishment of a classic country house: grand surroundings, warm atmosphere. Everyone welcome to explore the grounds. Overnight plus breakfast and dinner from €105.
PICNIC SPOT: Meadows beside the River Nore.
TOURIST OFFICE: Tel: 057 862 1178; laoistourism.ie.
INFORMATION: Launch of Leafy Loop Walks, Durrow (March 18); Dawn Chorus in Dunmore Wood (5am, May 6); Laois Walks Festival (July 1-27) -- for these events and more contact Ann Lanigan on 057 866 1900; annlanigan@ laoispartnership.ie.