5 of Ireland’s Most Beautiful Forest Parks
When I think back to my childhood, I recall sunny summer evenings spent playing outside with my sisters, building forts and dens from random bits of wood, sticks and old sheets. I remember exploring the garden, looking for new and interesting types of flowers, leaves and funny shaped twigs, to add to my nature scrapbook, or to collect in a bucket to give to my mother as a ‘present’. I remember the excitement as we drove to the forest park on a weekend.
I remember driving through the entrance of the forest and being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of trees, the height of them, the colours and of course, the possibility of spotting a deer or perhaps some other magical creature, living secretly in the deepest part of the forest. It was always an adventure, and you never knew what might happen next. A place where your imagination could truly run free amongst the beauty of nature.
So with a recent survey revealing that 1 in 10 Irish children have never visited a forest or wooded area, I felt compelled to pull together this list of beautiful forest parks, in celebration of ESB Tree Week. These forests are a must see for any family.
Up first, the forest which fuelled my imagination in childhood, and still does to this day:
1. Portumna Forest Park, Galway
This beautiful forest park in Portumna covers almost 450 hectares. Dominantly a coniferous woodland, the main tree species are Scots pine and Norway spruce. Keep an eye out for red squirrels which can frequently be spotted in this park. If you’re quiet enough, you might also spot some fallow deer, as the forest is largely populated with them. There are 4 looped trails in the park ranging from a multi-access trail suitable for all visitors of approx 1km length, to a long multi-use trail of over 10kms for walkers and cyclists. The variety of trails and lengths make it a perfect park for families to visit with little kids.
Find out more about Portumna Forest Park here.
2. Gougane Barra Forest Park, Cork
This gorgeous park is located in the townland of Coomroe. Gougane Barra was developed as a forest park in the early 60’s and was officially opened in 1966. It is unique in having a looped motor trail of almost 5 km with spectacular views of the deep valley and its walled sides. Walking in Gougane Barra is an energetic undertaking but one can be assured that it is a rewarding experience. There are 6 different trails to whet the appetite of the walking enthusiast. These are of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. Each one has its own story to tell and show off the spectacular panoramas of mountain, valley, stream and lake.
Find out more about Gougane Barra here.
Find your local forest park or woodland here and start exploring!