Sunday 20 January 2019

Four New Family Driving Adventures for 2018

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

It’s January and time to pack up the car, get the whole family in tow and hit the open road for some outdoor adventures.

Grab the rain-gear, bring your bikes, whistle for the family dog, invite some friends, put on your playlist and get going. Here are four new family driving adventures across Ireland for 2018:

WEB 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace by Paddy McGrath-9.jpg
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Best New Road – Head West to Coole

After 10 years planning, 3 years construction and costing half a billion euro to complete, the brand new 57km M17/M18 between Tuam and Gort is now open. It has reduced travel times to and from the northwest bypassing the towns of Tuam, Claregalway and Clarinbridge and it’s a pleasure to drive on.

If you like driving on a great new road surface on a route you haven’t tried before, pay a visit to the Coole-Garryland Nature Reserve, a great family getaway just 4km north-west of Gort which is a special area of conservation with links to Lady Gregory, WB Yeats and GB Shaw. 

There’s amazing woodland ecology and a magical landscape where families can try to spot everything from pine martens to red squirrels. There’s also a small herd of native Red deer. There’s a 1.75km easy family walk which passes a walled garden and ‘Autograph tree’ marked by famous writers that visited Coole. The walk goes through woodlands and overlooks the river and turlough. There’s a separate ‘Seven Woods Trail’ connecting the different woods made famous in poetry by WB Yeats with a viewing point for Coole Lake. It’s a haven of relaxation at any time of year.

WEB 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace by Paddy McGrath-25.jpg
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Best for Bikes – Get to the Greenway

The newly opened final 19k of the Waterford Greenway is brilliant for bicycles and walkers. It’s the perfect family destination to drive to and the world-class 45km route along an old railway track has been described as “the most amazing amenity for Co. Waterford ever”.

Just like the renowned Western Greenway of Co. Mayo, the Deise Greenway is a total and ultimate outdoor escape. If you plan to start from Kilmacthomas and head towards Dungarvan, the driving exit is located just off the N25 Waterford / Dungarvan road. When you get going on foot or by bike, the greenway route will take you past a viaduct, the Famine workhouse and beautiful views of the Comeragh mountains. There’s the chance for coffee in a railway car at Kilmeadan at the Waterford and Suir Valley Heritage Railway and a walk by the River Suir to Mont Congreve Gardens. If you’re not bringing your own bikes, there’s bike hire available in Dungarvan, Durrow and Kilmacthomas and an app for the best parking spots with all the news and highlights.

The Phoenix Park

Best for all the Family – Park at the Phoenix Park

There’s now a whole new dimension to driving through Dublin’s Phoenix Park following the launch of a new Children’s website by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins that offers virtual tours, facts and history that brings the park to life like never before.

Led by ‘guides’ Bláithín Bird, Fiachra Fox, Sorcha Squirrel and Daithí Deer, young children can hear all about Áras an Uachtaráin and the Phoenix Park and see if they can spot the deer in the trees. For older children and adults, a drive around the park will offer glimpses of the Wellington Monument, Farmleigh House, the Magazine Fort, the Papal Cross and the Phoenix Monument. Those interested in science and history will be fascinated with proof of a big Viking cemetery and the fact that people lived in the park during the Stone Age, as far back as 5,000 years ago. Depending on the time of year there’s a chance to watch the polo or cricket and it’s, of course, also home to Dublin Zoo.

Wherever you choose to park there is a chance for a walk, cycle or run through the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe. It’s open every day of the year and the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre has information on tours of the Magazine Fort and Áras an Uachtaráin and all the sports and other events that run through the year.

The Giant's Causeway

Best for Teenagers - Cruise the Causeway Coastal Route

‘Are we there yet’, won’t be a problem on the spectacular newly-branded Causeway Coastal Route. There’s a new feel to this area as Tourism Ireland launched a new film recently to guide drivers along Northern Ireland’s beautiful coastline.

There are continuous chances to stop off with cliff-top castles and brilliant coastal views. This drive is a great choice for families with older children as there are daring challenges like the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Gobbins, a cliff path that lets you feel like you’re ‘walking on water’. There’s Mussenden Temple, the geological wonder that is the Giant’s Causeway, the stunning ruins of Dunluce Castle and interesting stop-off points all along this 157km route whether you decide to do the full thing or just part of it.

Cushendun Caves are the location for HBO’s Game of Thrones and the route can be split across four days if you want to do it as part of a holiday at a leisurely pace. There’s a chance to take in Rathlin Island and the contrast of the sights of Belfast with the Titanic Museum and the W5 Interactive Discovery Centre / Science Museum.

Get driving on a family adventure in 2018!

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