Slow Leitrim: Into the wild in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands
A new ‘slow adventure’ campaign aims to attract visitors to Leitrim. Gareth Murray puts it through its (gentle) paces...
Nestling near tranquil Dromahair, Ard Nahoo Eco Retreat is our destination for a pre-wedding getaway.
We want to unwind before the big day, and Noeleen Tyrrell, a certified Anusara yoga teacher, greets us with a warm welcome. First stop is an Uisce Hour package (see intel), followed by a 30-minute relax in the hot tub with nothing to distract us but the sound of the birds, bubbles and fine views over the rolling hills of Leitrim.
Adrienne Diamond of Adventure Gently (adventuregentlyireland.com) is our guide for a canoe trip on the River Bonet. Clambering into the 'divorce boat' - so-called as front and back paddlers can get out of sync - myself and fiancée Viv clamber in and are given a quick lesson in Canadian canoeing before wending our way towards Lough Gill.
We pass heron and mating dragonfly before the mountain formation of the 'Sleeping Warrior' emerges on the skyline. Then we paddled hard into the reeds to enjoy a coffee and ginger tea, lapping up the beauty of surroundings which inspired WB Yeats' 'Isle of Innisfree'. Retracing our ripples, we thankfully get out of the 'divorce boat' with wedding plans intact.
Look out for vegan supper clubs run by former London restaurateurs Mike Harris and Jo Lewis of The Edergole Kitchen. Ten or so themed supper clubs are held each year at communal tables. edergolekitchen.ie
Ard Nahoo's Uisce Hour package (from €30pp) starts with an infared detox sauna, building temperatures up to 52˚C over half an hour. Infared rays target damaged tissue and soothe muscles, clarifing the skin - but the real bonus is burning 900 to 2,400 calories per session... so perhaps those size 32 wedding trousers will fit after all. The retreat also doubles as a yoga school with a year-round programme of retreats, classes, personalised sessions, teacher training and workshops.
We get change from €8 for two pints at The Stanford Village Inn, a charming traditional pub run by the same family for six generations. An evening meal at the Riverside Restaurant in Dromahair costs €61 for a starter, two mains, desserts and a pair of drinks (try the fish cakes, chicken stir-fry and Baileys’ crème brûlée). Excellent value for money...
We couldn't get a taxi for love nor money on a Saturday evening. So book ahead!
Ard Nahoo (ardnahoo.com) is about 2.5 hours from Dublin by car. Eco cabins start at €300 for a chillout weekend. A half-day canoe tour starts at €125 for two (or less per head for groups). See slowadventure.ie for more immersive experiences in Leitrim.
Read more:10 great reasons to visit Leitrim