4 Family Friendly Walking and Cycle Routes
Four walks put together with family excursions in mind. Each route is suitable for little legs or bikes, and each trail can be squeezed into a few short hours as part of a daytrip.
The Bohernabrenna Reservoirs Walk, Co. Dublin
Distance: 8.6 km
Duration: 1 hr 50 mins
Start Location: Bohernabrenna Car Park
End Location: Bohernabrenna Car Park
Parking: Bohernabrenna Car Park
Co-ordinates: 708798.644 724404.887
A leisurely walk for all the family that’s located just at the edge of Co. Dublin. The route laps the two reservoir pools before finishing back at the car park. There’s almost no incline on the walking route but care should be taken at the water’s edge.
The walk begins at the designated carpark located off the R114, just over 1 km north of the reservoir pools.
The first 1.3 km of the walk goes from north to south along the River Dodder. The river then flows into the northern pool and the path skirts the east side of the water for another 1 km until you reach the forest area in between the two pools.
400 metres further south, the path reaches the second pool and then continues on a complete lap. After one full circuit of the lower reservoir you’ll be back at the middle forest area.
Then all that’s left to do is follow the path back to the carpark for another 2.5 km.
The Greenway: Mulranny to Newport, Co. Mayo
Type: Point to point
Distance: 18 km
Duration: 1 hr 20 mins (cycling)
Start Location: Mulranny Park Hotel
End Location: Newport Co. Mayo
Parking: Mulranny Park Hotel / Newport town centre.
Co-ordinates: 483359.964 796728.886
Regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of the Greenway cycle route, the stage between Mulranny and Newport is a rewarding journey that is best enjoyed as a cycle.
One of the wonderful things about this stretch of cycle route is that there is a bike hire station just behind the Mulranny Park Hotel (where John Lennon once stayed), run by Clew Bay Bike Hire. This is handy for any visitors from out of town that mightn’t have the family bike rack with them.
Although a long route, most of the 1 8km cycle moves across wide open spaces, making it easy for parents to keep an eye on junior cyclists who like to dart ahead. The route has many spots for picnics with picturesque views of the bay on a cloudless day. As with most of the Greenway, the surface is mainly course gravel.
The intuitive nature of this route makes it easy to back track to the hotel if little legs get tired or the weather turns.
Starting on the path at the back of Mulranny Park hotel, travel 500 metres east until you reach the Greenway Café. For the Greenway to Newport route, turn left up the hill here and take the right turn after 50 metres.
From here the route is well signposted with only one or two spots where a wrong turn might occur. One point in particular is at the junction located 4 km into the journey. Ignore the part of the path that climbs up the hill and instead take the right turn going down the hill.
It’s not until 8km later that the path gives you another uphill vs downhill option. Go downhill and then take the second left turn after 200 metres.
From here, keeping going straight for 2 km until you reach the end of the cycle and walking track and reach the road that crosses the river. This is a good place for walkers to stop and turn around, or arrange for a lift home, as for the next 2 km the cycling is done on the N59.
The road enters Newport at the north of the town, a nice spot for a well-earned lunch.
Blessington Greenway, Co.Wicklow
Type: Point to point
Distance: 7.5 km
Duration: 1 hr 50 mins
Start Location: Blessington Lakes near Total Experience Kayaking (500 metres south of Blessington Lakes Garden Centre)
End Location: Blessington Village
Parking: Russborough House
Co-ordinates: 698010.237 714246.190
Take in the idyllic surroundings of Blessington with a lakeside stroll that can be started at any point on the route once you’ve found a suitable parking space.
Starting with the expansive grounds of Russborough House, which is home to the National Bird of Prey Centre there are plenty of sights to take in on this tranquil trek. See how the River Liffey flows from the lakes towards the capital during your light amble along the waterside.
Occasionally moving from hard surface to grass or a damp river edge, this walk is not always suitable for buggies from start to finish.
Start the trail on the banks of the Poulaphuca Reservoir and then walk back up the path for 100 metres, taking a right turn and heading north into the woods.
Follow the path through the woods for another 1.5 km, heading north until the path intersects with a road. Cross carefully then follow the path as it winds towards the N81. Follow this road north, across the water, before joining the trail on the lakeshore on the other side.
From here you can follow the intuitive trail along the water until you reach the Avon Ri holiday camp. Follow the road west until it re-joins the Burgage More road.
Blessington town lies 1 km north from this point.
It’s possible to continue along the lakeshore for a bit longer on this route instead of turning at Avon Ri, but as the trail runs out you may have to make your way back to the town across some housing estates.
Glenfarne Loop, Co. Leitrim
Distance: 7 km
Duration: 1 hr 50 mins
Start Location: GPS Co-ordinates 54.301258, -7.966409
End Location: GPS Co-ordinates 54.301258, -7.966409
Parking: Roadside /Glenfarne
Co-ordinates: 601569.419 841939.654
A hidden circuit on the banks of Lough Macnean that offers a secluded ramble on the boundaries of Leitrim and Cavan.
This trail lets walkers immerse themselves in the forest along the lake, which offers a completely different natural colour pallet depending on the time of year that you visit. In the summer, you will see boating enthusiasts parked up at points were the forest opens up to reveal Lough Macnean.
The surface is that of a country road or botharin and is suitable for buggies and bikes, but it can get mucky and wet in places.
Cars and bikes may be using the route for access so keep an eye and an ear out for traffic and wear bright clothing if you expect to still be walking as the light starts to fade.
To reach the start point of this walk, join the R281 from the N16 at Glenfarne, opposite The Rainbow Ballroom. Follow this road straight for another 1 km and then turn right. Continue straight (heading east) for 1.5km to reach the start of the loop.
From the start of the trail, walk 400 metres, keeping right until you reach the water. From here you can follow the path along the water heading north for 900 metres.
Take the right turn at the fork in the road, once again skirting the water and heading north, for 2 km.
When you reach the fork in the road at the top of the route, turn left and head back south for 1.35 km.
At the next junction take a left and then 400 metres later, take a second junction take a right.
Stay the course for the next 1.5 km to return to the start of the loop.
Know Your Limits
The walks we’ve picked out for this feature are mainly flat and on easy surfaces, meaning they can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
However, it’s important to make sure you know the walking limits of older and younger age family members.
Before you set off, look at the total distance of each walk and work out if you need to take a shorter route and identify points in the walk where you can return to your car with ease, without having to complete the full circuit.