Last week Michelle had an email from a listener, Fiona, about a relaxing break in Ireland. And it just so happens that Michelle has the perfect answer because she was on some Slow Adventure during the Easter holidays in Leitrim.
My husband and I (in our early 50s) want to take a 3/4 night break in Ireland sometime during the last 2 weeks of July. I am quite an active person and love walking. My husband not so much (he is a golfer)but likes to be out in nature and enjoys gentle walks. We would like a package that includes some guided walking trails. We do like a little luxury so are not looking for a hostel type experience. We live in Dublin so would consider most places outside of Dublin. I listen to you on Newstalk all the time and know that you are a wealth of knowledge. Any ideas for us? Fiona
Lovely Leitrim is less than two hours from Dublin and with warm friendly locals who will be delighted to offer you a relaxing and fun-filled break in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. The natural landscape lends itself to numerous activities such as walking, cycling, canoeing, rock-climbing fishing and lake-cruising. Slow Adventure is on offer here. For all you need to know about Leitrim go to leitrimtourism.com
What is slow adventure ?
Slow adventure is about creating connections with the outdoors and engaging and exploring nature. Leitrim in part of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and has joined the slow adventure initiative involving other northern European countries, Norway, Sweden , Scotland and Iceland. Slow adventure is about investing time in a place and its traditions and natural environment.
Experiential travel is becoming de riguer as a travel or holiday option in contrast to the way we are now living at a faster pace and under the pressures of a technological world. Countries like Ireland offer something desirable that those living in cities are yearning to achieve and enjoy. In turn pumping energy and new life into parts of the country that offer a calmer more laid back lifestyle in abundance.
For more info see http://slowadventure.ie/
The SAINT project, co-financed by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, drew together a range of partners – research centres, local government and SMEs – in Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Sweden.
The project focus was primarily to work with micro-businesses to improve their promotion of slow adventure activities and extend their marketing reach to new overseas and domestic consumers, leading to positive direct impacts, in terms of more bed nights, extending visitors’ stays and potentially stretching the seasons. Trans-national branding will help to improve business connections across these diverse regions that nonetheless all offer suitable playgrounds for immersive and memorable outdoor experiences.
To explore Slow Adventure in Northern Territories see https://saintproject.eu/
Where to stay in Leitrim?
I’ve picked three options to suit couples and family and those looking for a solo retreat.
Lough Rynn Castle
Fiona would like a little luxury so I recommend where I stayed at Lough Rynn Castle which was an absolute delight. This beautiful castle was built in the 19th century and is filled with stories and legends going back to the druids times The remains of the original castle of the Mac Ragnaill Clan from early 16th C. surround the walled garden to the present day. The Crofton family took over during the plantation
One of the most notorious owners was Lord Leitrim who took over the estate in 1854
In 1878, Lord Leitrim undertook a number of particularly brutal evictions from his estates in Donegal. Afterwards, while travelling from Donegal back to Lough Rynn, William Sydney Clements was assassinated in a hail of bullets aged 72. The list of potentials culprits was as large as the number of enemies he had made over the years. While his treatment of his tenants, his fellow politicians and his employees was terrible, he seemed to have particular resentment of women. In fact, shortly before his murder, an accusation was aimed at Lord Leitrim for having debauched one of his young servant girls – the daughter of one of his three assassins.
Lough Rynn boasts a library dedicated to John McGahern the novelist one of Letrims famous sons
2BB1D Plus Activity €175 per adult midweek it goes up by €40pp at weekends
No DepositTaxes Included FREE ACTIVITY INCLUDED
Enjoy a Spring/Summer Break in the luxurious surrounds of Lough Rynn Castle with Dinner in the 2AA Rosette Awarded Sandstone Restaurant
PLUS FREE TICKETS to Arigna Mining Experience or Lough Key Forest Park
2 tickets for a Guided tour of Arigna Mines
A Self guided tour through the Old Servant Tunnels, Moylurg Viewing Tower, and Ireland’s Only Tree Canopy Walk at Lough Key Forest Park
Lough Allen Hotel in Drumshanbo
This hotel is ideal for families. Many of the rooms have an extra single bed and the leisure complex has full pool facilities for kids and a play ground and kids club with entertainment in the bar at night. Next door is horseriding at morlands equestrian centre http://www.moorlands.ie/
To Stay at Lough Allen around €159 per room in June
Ardnahoo Eco cabins
At Ardnahoo you can join a yoga retreat or do other activities
Our Personal Retreat includes…
- Two nights’ accommodation in private eco cabin
- Uisce Hour in our outdoor hot tub and infrared sauna
- Organic welcome pack with breakfast foods
- Complimentary Supper on one evening, delivered directly to your cosy cabin (vegetarian dish of the day with dessert)
Dates: Available throughout the year. Please ring the office for availability: 071 913 4939 Tues-Fri 10am-2pm
Cost: Midweek €295pp
Please note that these are the prices for a single traveller. There is no single supplement.
What to do?
There are lots of activities especially fishing and hiking and walkways
Way to Go adventures
Michelle went with Stephen of Way To Go Adventures at Fenagh Visitors Centre at 11.00 am for a Slow Adventure experience on the Shannon-erne Blueway. We were given bikes and a gentle 5km cycle to the lough where our canoes waited. Slow Food picnic was included and we took in the breathtaking scenery and nature seeing kingfishers as we paddled through the reeds. Stephen told stories of islets that occurred when the waters retreated in summer where locals would hold summer dances in the middle of the lake away from the eyes of the church. It was relaxing and easy to canoe – you don’t need to be fit as everything is done at a slow pace.
- Down by the River
- Cycle from the Fenagh Heritage Centre to Ballyduff taking in the scenic surroundings of the area. From there pick up your Canadian Canoe and glide along the water towards Castlefore where you will hear stories of local nature, heritage and history.
- Stop off along the lakeshore for a picnic lunch which is provided by Edergole Kitchen. Walk to Castlefore Lake where you will pick up your bikes and cycle back to Fenagh Heritage Centre. Following this you will experience ‘meet the maker’ session where you will practice local crafts.
- As a keepsake you will be able to take away a memento from the session. Finish off your day with a fresh scone and some tea or coffee at the Fenagh Heritage Centre.
Price from €87 per person
- Day Trip price includes:
- Canadian canoe trek
- Picnic Lunch
- Afternoon tea
- Bike rental and recommended route
- Guests to bring:
- Loose clothing
- Walking shoes
- Subject to availability terms and conditions apply
Lee at Leitrim surf introduced me to my first paddle-boarding experience. His advice is to make it as enjoyable as possible and avoid falling in at all costs so I took my inflatable board and sat crossed legged while making my way along the Shannon waterway at my own pace. The trees and foliage seem greener than in other parts of the country and it is absolutely unspoilt.
Paddle the waterways and forage as you go
Take to the Water with a stand-up paddle along with your guide Lee from Leitrim Surf Company. Lee will show you how to forage while you paddle along the water.
Your destination will be Drumshanbo where you will stop off for a picnic lunch. Your picnic will be supplied by the Sweet Geranium where they will use some of the ingredients that you will have identified during the SUP journey.
Following lunch you will learn more about river life. Explore what lies under the water, its environmental and ecological relevance from local ecologist Eileen Gibbons. To finish you will have the opportunity to get involved in a ‘Meet the Maker Session’ where you will practice local crafts. As a keepsake you will be able to take away a memento from the session.
Price per person from €104
Day Trip price includes:
- Guided stand up paddle boarding
- Picnic Lunch
- River life experience
- Meet the maker session with a local craftsperson
Sliabh an Iarainn
Sliabh an Iarainn Mountain is the wild and rugged mountain in County Leitrim, which rises to 585 metres above sea level and is located on the eastern shore of Lough Allen.
Walkers will stand in awe at the breathtaking panoramic views over the west and midlands of Ireland, or wonder at the amount and variety of flora and fauna encountered and foxes, hares, rabbits, badgers, ravens and peregrine falcons.
There are 3 looped walks in this area
- The Aughacashel Loop 3 km/ 1-1hr 20 mins Easy (C)
- Tullylackan Loop 10 km/3 hrs -3 hrs 30 mins Moderate (B)
- Crummy Loop 12 km / 3 hrs – 3 hrs 30 mins Moderate (B)
Where to eat?
Food quality in Ireland has come a considerably long way and it’s especially apparent in these restaurants
The Cottage close to Carrick-on-Shannon
Located on the main road into Jamestown Village, Co. Leitrim. The Cottage Restaurant nestles into a scenic quiet spot by the river and Weir, with parking on the road. The traditional half door entrance to the restaurant, leads into a bright, contemporary dining space. Though nestled in a quite location, The Cottage Restaurant is anything but that. With a reputation for excellence, great taste and the friendliest customer service, it’s no wonder that this little gem which is just 5 miles from Carrick on Shannon, is known not just locally or nationally but globally!
Menu at The Cottage Restaurant changes regularly depending on what fabulous fresh and local produce is available but no matter what is being served we guarantee a fusion Asian, Irish feast that won’t disappoint.
Sham Hanifa came from Malaysia 15 years ago and has now three restaurants in the area and is married to an irish woman. He has won a host of prestigious awards for best restaurant in Connaught and Leitrim. He grows his own vegetables and uses mostly local food producers for his ingredients
St George’s Terrace in Carrick-on-shannon St George’s Terrace in Carrick-on-Shannon is the Restaurant of Chef Dave Fitzgibbon and his business partner Siobhan Smyth. This used to be an old bank.
The restaurant is in a beautiful Victorian red brick building overlooking the Shannon. Opened in 2015 it is now more than three years in operation and has gathered a loyal clientele with regulars travelling from Sligo, Dublin, Longford and Roscommon as well as its local support.
Starters of Home smoked salmon arrives to your table in a cloche of retro smoke, Beautiful Thornhill Duck, or a classic little caramel tart will often feature on the menu.Last year they opened a dedicated cookery school which ironically is situated in the original kitchen of this grand old house. With eight individual stations and all classes taught by Dave it’s an exciting addition to Carrick on Shannon. The Range of classes are perfect for a group of friends, a team building event or a serious foodie.
Sweet Geranium Coffee shop in Drumshanbo
The Famous Gunpowder Gin is made in Drumshanbo and they are in the process of turning the distillery into a food emporium with local foods on offer making it another nice relaxing stop off in the area.
Other things to do in Letrim
Forage the Northern Glens of Leitrim
Start the day with a walk and forage with Leitrim Landscapes Guided Walk trails around Fowleys Falls.
Enjoy a coffee and a mid-morning snack en route, provided by the award winning Organic Centre in Rossinver. You will end your walking adventure at the Organic Centre where you will be treated to a lunch or an outdoor picnic with some delicious delights supplied by chef Gaby.
In the afternoon you will take part in an activity in the gardens of The Organic Centre with vegetable tasting tour and cookery demonstration.
Price is per person is from €47
Day Trip price includes:
- Guided walk and foraging
- Mid-morning coffee and treat
- Lunch at the Organic Centre
- The Organic Centre tour and demonstration
Guests to bring:
- Loose clothing
- Walking shoes
Subject to availability terms and conditions apply