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From the Waterford Greenway to the Killarney National Park here are 25 of the best buggy-friendly walks around Ireland. Pack up a picnic and get outdoors this weekend.
Hiking can be fun for everyone in the family, even babies. There are now so many buggy friendly walks all around Ireland. Parks and gardens usually have multi-access paths and even some hills and mountains have tarmacked surfaces at lower levels. Several Greenways are currently under development around the country like the Royal Canal Greenway and others are completed like the Waterford Greenway. Greenways are perfect for buggy walks as they have a tarmacked surface for the entire stretch. Some of the walks below may require a sturdy buggy as the paths are forest trails or grit.
The Phoenix Park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. It was originally opened as a royal deer park for King Charles II in 1662. King Charles is long gone but the Phoenix Park is still home to several hundred deer. It has 50% of the mammal species and 40% of the bird species found in Ireland, making it one of the most biodiverse locations in the country.
Roads and paths lead all around the park making it the perfect place for a family walk with a buggy. There are mapped routes around the park starting from the Cabra Gate, the Park Gate Street Entrance, the Islandbridge Gate, the Knockmaroon Gate and Whites Gate.
Smack bang in the middle of Dublin Bay is the South Wall Walk. The walk is along a wide seawall reaching four kilometres out to sea. There is a lighthouse at the end and you will see spectacular views from here including the Poolbeg Chimneys, Dun Laoghaire, Killiney Head and the Wicklow Mountains behind it. The surface of this walk is paved so a sturdy buggy is necessary.
To reach the car park for the walk from the southside head towards a roundabout before the East Link Toll Bridge. Take the exit opposite the one for the East Link and take the first left on to Pidgeon House road, followed by a sharp right turn.
Ardgillan Castle Park is located between Balbriggan and Skerries in north Co Dublin right beside the sea. A footbridge over the Dublin-Belfast railway line links the park to Barnageera beach. The park has eight kilometres of footpath through gardens and forest areas. From the park, you will see spectacular views of Rockabill Lighthouse, Colt Church, Lambay Island and the Mourne Mountains. There are picnic areas a walled garden and a car park.
The River Dodder is one of the main rivers in Dublin. It starts in the Wicklow Mountains and ends when it enters the Liffey along with the Grand Canal at Grand Canal Dock. A walkway runs along by the River Dodder from Clonskeagh to Firhouse in South Dublin. Along the river walk, you will pass Temple Park, Bushy Park, Orwell Park and Dodder Riverbank Park.
In Clonskeagh, the walk starts on the Clonskeagh Road near the petrol station. It ends in Dodder Riverbank Park, Firhouse. The walk is 10 kilometres in length each way. There is no specific parking for this walk. You might be lucky enough to find some free on-street parking but a lot of it will be pay parking. The best option is to use public transport. The 49, 65b and the 75 all go from Firhouse. Several buses go close to Clonskeagh including the 11, the 61 and the 142. Along the walk, you will also be close to the Green Luas Line at some points.
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If you are looking for a workout this is the walk for you. Most of the walkways are wide and well tarmacked but there is quite an incline. Situated in South Dublin in the Dublin Mountains you will get fantastic views of the city, Dublin Bay and south towards Killiney Hill, Bray Head, The Sugarloaf and the Wicklow Mountains. It would be difficult to reach the very top with a buggy as the tarmacked path eventually becomes a gravel trail but there are plenty of routes to take which remain on good, buggy friendly paths. There are picnic areas around the hill and a car park which is open from 6 am to 10 pm.
This four-kilometre coastal walk is sandwiched between parkland on the west and sea on the east. You can expect to see a wonderful mix of wildlife living on the maritime side and the parkland side. As you walk you will see magnificent views of Howth and Lambay Island. There are some points along the walk to get down to the beach if you want. The paths are wide and even and perfect for buggies. There is a carpark near the Portmarnock Country Club Hotel. There are Dart stations in both Portmarnock and Malahide so if you don’t want to walk back you can always get the Dart.
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Castletown, Co Kildare, is Ireland’s largest and finest Palladian-style country house situated on a 550-acre estate. It is situated along the banks of the River Liffey. There is a nice looped walk along by the Liffey, up to Castletown House and back around through the grounds. The loop starts and finishes near Christchurch, Celbridge where there is limited parking. It is a relatively short loop at just over two kilometres and is doable with a buggy.
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Located eight kilometres north-west of Durrow Granston Lough Nature Reserve is just off the M8 motorway at exit three. The marked walking trails are a relatively new addition to the nature reserve. The blue waymarkers follow the lakeside walk and the green markers guide you along a longer walk but with fewer lake views. On the lakeside walk, you will see several fishing jetties where you can look out at the views across the lake. The blue trail is about two kilometres in length around the lakes shore. There is a car park here.
When completed the Royal Canal Greenway will go from the River Liffey in Dublin through Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford. It will be Ireland’s longest Greenway at 145 km. However, for now, it is still in progress. The section of path from the Meath/Westmeath border close to Kinnegad to Abbeyshrule, Co Longford is completed. The route is flat and suitable for buggies. There are some unprotected areas of the canal so be careful of any small children not in buggies. The route is 32.3 kilometres long. Some of the recommended access points along the way are D’Arcy’s Bridge, Hyde Park, Killucan, Baltrasna Bridge, Marlinstown, Mullingar, Belmount Bridge, Belmount, Mullingar and Coolnahay Harbour, Coolnahay.
This 35-acre wood was formerly a part of the Bryan Bellew Estate. The Chinese necklace poplar tree that grows here has survived from the original park planting of the 1870s. Another thing to note is the stand of beech trees with a magnificent carpet of bluebells in late Spring. There are over 1000 more species of tree here as well as these and a fabulous 20-acre lake. There is a four kilometres loop walk around the perimeter of the woodlands along woodland trails and sandy roadway meaning it is buggy friendly in dry weather. Along the way, there are some viewing points and you might also see the deer herd who live here. There are a picnic area and toilets. The car park here is open from 9.30- 17.00.
The JFK Arboretum is situated 12km south of New Ross, Co Wexford on the southern slopes and summit of Slievecoiltia. It was opened in 1968 and dedicated to assassinated US president John F. Kennedy. The 252-hectare park has over 4,500 types of tree. It has 200 forest plots grouped by continent. There is road access to the 271m summit of Slievecoiltia where you can see panoramic views of the park, the surrounding countryside and across into Co Kilkenny. In the park, there are several signposted walks on paths. There is also an orienteering course opened by OPW. There are four orienteering courses to follow, one of which is accessible for wheels making it a perfect course to do with the whole family, buggy and all. The courses are open to everyone. You just simply download the map to your desired course and the answer sheet (to check your answers after) and follow the route collecting the numbers from each marker post.
The JFK Arboretum has parking, toilets, a playground, picnic areas, a maze and a miniature railway in the summer. It is open during the summer from 10.00 – 20.00. There is an admission fee of €4 for adults, €2 for children or €10 for a family.
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The Waterford Greenway runs along the old Waterford-Dungarvan railway line and is 45km in length. The whole way is tarmaced making it perfect for buggies and bicycles. Along the way you can see the Durrow seven arch and Kilmacthomas eight arch stone viaducts, Mount Congreve Gardens and Ballyvoyle Cove. If you are struggling to choose which section to do start from Dungarvan and head towards Ballyvoyle Cove. If you complete this it is about seven kilometres each way. This section of the Greenway will give you the best views.
This little wood on a hill overlooking Cork harbour has some interesting historical sights. It is situated about 20kms south of Cork City. There is a Bronze Age Grave Cairn form circa 1,500 BC. A stone gazebo or summer house stands at the top of the hill. This offers a reminder of the times when the woods were used as an area of ‘pleasure’ for the gentry. There are two waymarked looped walks around the 35-acre wood. The Gazebo Loop is one and a half kilometres long and takes you up to the top of the hill to the tea house and the cairn from where you can admire the stunning harbour views. The Terrace Loop is just over two kilometres and takes you around the perimeter of the wood. Below the wood is the Currabinny Pier in the Owenabue River. The area is popular with birdwatchers given its proximity to Cork Harbour. There is a car park and a picnic area at Currabinny Wood.
This greenway is another walk/cycle path along an old disused railway line. It stretches five kilometres from Carrigaline to Crosshaven along by the Owenabue River. This path will be part of a network of walking and cycling paths planned for Cork. The path is smooth and accessible for bikes and buggies. There is a car park close to the start in Carrigaline at Kilnagleary car park. About halfway along the route, there is parking at Rabbit Island car park.
Doneraile Court in Co Cork sits on over 160 hectares of walled garden. On the grounds, you will find formal gardens, sweeping parkland vistas, groves of ancient trees, the Awbeg River and a profusion of wildlife and plants. Some of the larger residents on the grounds are three species of deer and a herd of Kerry cattle. There are a number of walks around the grounds on even surfaces perfect for buggies. The 18th-century house is currently being restored but the old kitchen is accessible to the public as there is a tearoom there. There is free parking at Doneraile Court.
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At the very tip of the Ivearagh Peninsula, you will find the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell. The house and grounds were left to the State by his family. The grounds are now the Derrynane National Historic Park and the house is a museum commemorating Daniel O’Connell.
This walk starts and finishes in the ground of Derrynane National Historic Park. The coastal route is along paved and grit paths so a sturdy buggy is necessary. The walk is an eight kilometre loop and has beautiful views of beaches, mountain shoulders and numerous offshore islands and islets. In the grounds of the house, there is a fairy garden with little fairy doors hidden among the trees. There are also toilets and a café there as well as a South American plant collection. There is free parking.
Escape to Ireland’s largest area of ancient oak woods for a family day of hiking and exploring. Start this walk at Ross Castle, where the lakeside paths are less crowded than other areas of the park. The paths are easy to walk and are suitable for good buggies in dry weather. Start in the Ross Castle car park and follow signs for Ross Castle. After the Castle cross a small footbridge and go right at the information board, separating from the large path. Follow the path along by the water’s edge and re-join up with the large path after a while. Follow this large path until you reach Governor’s Point. This is a loop walk and returning you will pass by the old copper mines. This walk is just over three kilometres in distance and there are toilets and a café on sight.
This short walk on a wide forest path and a boardwalk is perfect for an easy stroll with a buggy. It is one and a half kilometres and should take about half an hour. There is a viewing platform to look out over Lough Derg and a duck pond along the way as well. If you find this walk too short there are three more walking trails throughout the 450-hectare park but these are not officially buggy friendly so care should be taken. Look out for the red squirrels, fallow deer, foxes and badgers living in the park.
The planned Connemara Greenway will run for 76km from Galway to Clifden when it is finished. Development has been held up for several years due to land access issues. However, the six-kilometre Cloonbeg to Athry route was officially opened on 28 May 2018. It runs adjacent to Ballynahinch Castle and Ballinafad graveyard, north of Roundstone. The Greenway is a cycling and walking track with no vehicle access through the Connemara National Park. It is along the old railway line. The path is perfect for buggies as the path is tarmac. It can be started from either side and is linear.
Right by the sea, twenty minutes outside Galway city in Oranmore is Rinville Park. Oranmore is dubbed “the gateway to the West”. Another one for those interested in history Rinville Castle and Rinville Hall are here in the park. Wind has shaped the western and northern boundaries of the woods but the interior of the park is largely sheltered by the extensive woodland. There is a Slí na Sláinte route through the park as well as a picnic and barbecue area and a playground. There is free parking here.
Diamond Hill (442m) is located in Connemara National Park near Letterfrack between Ballinakill Harbour and the Twelve Bens. You will see beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, islands Inis Boffin and Innishark and the Twelve Bens. The hill has two walks: the three kilometres Lower Diamond Hill Walk and the four kilometres Upper Diamond Hill Walk. To reach the summit you need to do both walks. With a buggy, however, you would need to stay on the lower walk and follow the blue waymarks as the terrain on the upper walk is too uneven and the paths are too narrow. The lower trail is a mix of gravel path and boardwalk. There are few single steps along the route so this walk would be best with at least two adults. The walk starts in the Connemara National Park Visitor Centre Carpark in Letterfrack. At the visitor centre, there is a playground, a picnic area and tea rooms. The surrounding countryside is in the form of bogs, heaths, grassland and woodland making for some spectacular and diverse scenery throughout your walk. There is also a shorter loop following the yellow waymarkers.
Lough Key Forest Park Cycle Route is just over five kilometres and starts and finishes in Lough Key Activity Centre in the park. It brings you through the woods and then along the lake shore. The whole walk is along paths and suitable for sturdy buggies and bikes. Another option for families in the park is the Lough Key Experience. This is Irelands only tree canopy walk. This is a much shorter 300 metres long at a height of nine metres above the forest floor. It is a boardwalk with an audio guide taking you through the history of the park and area as well as informing you of the various flora and fauna. There is a charge for this walk of €7.50 for adults, €5 for children and €20 for a family of two adults and two children. There are toilets, a café and a picnic area in the park. Parking is charged at €4 or is free if you spend over €20 in the café.
Situated about five kilometres outside Sligo at Halfmoon Bay this lakeside walk in Hazelwood Forest is perfect for buggies and little legs. It is a three kilometres loop partially along the western shore of Lough Gill. Just follow the green waymarkers. You can expect magnificent views of Church Island, Cottage Island and Goat Island. Look out for the sculptures hidden along the way. To get here from Sligo head towards Dromohair past Sligo IT. Turn right at a signpost for Hazelwood. There is a picnic area and parking here too.
For a historical, cultural and nature experience Belleek Woods has it all. The trail is in the wooded area of the former Belleek Estate. Along the way, you will see several historical landmarks such as a hermitage, an ice house and a wall built during the famine in Ireland. The woodlands contain a mixture of conifer trees such as Norway spruce, Scots pine silver fir together with beech, oak and ash. Look out for red squirrels, herons, kingfishers, cormorants and otters. You can also take a wander to the fairy trail, where you can spot the doors to little fairies’ houses. There is a four-kilometre loop walk along forest path that is fine for buggies in good weather. Part of the walk is along by the River Moy. The walk starts approx. two kilometres from Ballina town on the road to Killala. There are picnic areas by the river.
On the north-west coast of Donegal is Ards Forest Park, with a variety of habitats: sand dunes, beaches, salt marshes, saltwater lakes, rock face and coniferous and deciduous woodlands. The Sand Dune Trail is along forest tracks, path and boardwalk and follows the coastline. It passes through a small wood of conifer and broadleaf trees onto a sand dune complex with views over Clonmass Bay and the Back Strand. The trail is one kilometre in length each way. It is buggy and wheelchair friendly.
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By Heather Snelgar
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