Travel

Friday 24 January 2020

Walking in the air: Eight great activities to do over the holidays

Kathy Donaghy has several suggestions for blowing off the Christmas cobwebs this week...

The Waterford Greenway was an old railway line
The Waterford Greenway was an old railway line

Kathy Donaghy

Need to work off those extra Christmas calories or get the kids off the PlayStation? Here's a few ideas to get you out and about and active over the holidays.

1. Skate away

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For seasonal family fun, the ice rink at Tallaght Stadium is a firm favourite. The attraction is welcoming visitors until Sunday, January 26 and sessions on the ice last 45 minutes. Prices are €15 per adult, €13 per child and family tickets are available. See southdublinonice.ie for more information.

2. Investigate our animal life

There's an incredible diversity of animal life along our shoreline and the Sea Synergy and Activity Centre at Waterville, Co Kerry, is the perfect destination for nature lovers. You can try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking on Lough Currane or explore the seashore at Waterville. All activities are weather dependent at this time of year. For more information see seasynergy.org or call Eleanor to book an activity at 087 4554034.

3. Explore a great National Park

Connemara is one of six National Parks and the rugged and wild landscape of the Derrigimlagh bog near Clifden is especially captivating, not least when you walk around what's left of Marconi's cable operation. Killarney National Park in Kerry and Glenveagh National Park in Donegal are also open to walkers over the Christmas and New Year period.

4. Brilliant beaches

Wrap up well and explore the abundance of glorious Atlantic beaches at this time of year. You can visit Ballymastocker in Donegal and secluded Mullaghroe at Belmullet, Co Mayo, or check out Brittas Bay, one of the finest beaches on the east coast.

5. Park Life

Lough Boora Discovery Park, which is run by Bord na Mona, is open 365 days a year and is the perfect place to work off the Christmas pudding. Located in West Offaly close to the towns of Tullamore, Birr, Athlone and Ballinasloe, it has a wide range of walking and cycling looped pathways that are easy grade and completely off-road. Entry to the park is free, bikes can be hired on-site and the car park costs €4 for the day. See loughboora.com for more information.

6. Into the Blue

The Blueways - a network of multi-activity recreational trails beside idyllic lakes, canals and rivers - provide the perfect antidote to the busyness of Christmas. In Leitrim, explore the Shannon Blueway or take in the Barrow Way, which brings you through Laois, Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny. See bluewaysireland.org.

7. Get lost in the woods

With over 3,000km of trails to travel, Coillte's 260 recreation sites around the country provide something for everyone. Whether you're looking for a gentle forest ramble or a challenging mountain hike, getting lost in the woods is a good idea for an adventure. Not far from Dublin City, Tibradden Wood, nestled in the Dublin Mountains, offers great views of the capital below.

At Cavan Burren Park, you can witness 5,000 years of archaeology with dolmens and giants' graves 40 minutes from Cavan town. The park's winter opening hours are from 8am to 6pm. For those looking for something vigorous, try taking on the biggest mountain bike trail network in the country at Ballyhoura, Co Limerick. Car parking costs €5.

In Roscommon, Lough Key Forest Park features unique natural and historical features, from its 19th century parkland to the numerous walks and trails through the native woodlands, bog garden and forests. Parking is €4. It's open from tomorrow to December 30 from 11am to 5pm, closed on December 31 and January 1, and open again on January 2 from 11am to 5pm.

Ards Forest Park in Donegal has 1,200 acres to explore, and runs right along the beach. See loughkey.ie and coillte.ie for more information on forest walks.

8. Go Green

The Waterford Greenway is a spectacular 46km off-road cycling and walking trail along the old railway line that used to connect Waterford City with the port of Dungarvan. You're free to bring your own bike and bike hire companies may have limited opening hours over Christmas. See waterfordgreenwaybikehire.com and thegreenwayman.com.

For more ideas on how to get out and about over the holidays, see discoverireland.ie.

Irish Independent

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