Family Breaks Clare
Clare is a county that has been ingrained in my brain as a place of fun, sea, sand and holidays as we were brought to this beautiful county time and time again as a child. I still love to make a trip here when I can as I always feel the minute you go over the border cars slow down and the relaxed way of life embraces you.
When we think “Family Breaks Clare“, the first thing that usually comes to mind is surfing in Lahinch, Aillwee Caves and The Cliffs of Mohar but if that was not enough there is so much more in this county such as:
- Irish Seaweed Safari – The Irish Seaweed Safari is an experience not to be missed! Join the 4th generation Seaweed Foragers and enjoy the spectacular shore walk from the rugged coastline of Caherush meandering along the shoreline enjoying nostalgic views looking out on Spanish Point Bay along with the spectacular Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.
- Trip to Aran Islands -Sail to the Aran Islands or Cruise under the Cliffs of Moher ! Daily sailings to the Aran Islands from Doolin. Visit the spectacular Dún Aengus fort on Inis Mor, get away from it all on Inis Meain or take a quick trip to the smallest one – the beautiful island of Inis Oirr. Or take a Cruise under the Cliffs of Moher. Admire the scale and majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher on a 1 hour voyage of discovery.
- Bunratty Castle – Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is a must on your itinerary to Ireland. This is your chance to experience a window on Ireland’s past and explore the acclaimed 15th century Bunratty Castle and the 19th century Bunratty Folk Park.
- Explore the Burren – The Burren National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Burren and is approximately 1500 hectares in size. The Park land was bought by the Government for nature conservation and public access. It contains examples of all the major habitats within the Burren: Limestone Pavement, Calcareous grassland, Hazel scrub, Ash/hazel woodland, Turloughs, Lakes, Petrifying springs, cliffs and Fen
- Cliff Coastal Walk – Beyond the grounds of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience you can now explore a new 20km coastal walking trail in Clare which will bring you along one of the most outstanding landscapes of Ireland. From LIscannor and Hags Head in the south, along by the majestic Cliffs of Moher and to Doolin in the North, with views over Aill Na Searrach, the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. The trail follows the line of the cliffs and passes through the grounds of the visitor centre. The trail starts on road from Liscannor where you will witness theamazing views of the Cliffs, the famous Aran Islands, Kerry mountains, Galway Bay, O’Briens Tower and the thousands of seabirds make the Cliffs a magical place. Talking telescopes are dotted along the paths as you go.
- Caving – Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite. At 7.3 metres (23feet) it is the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. The Great Stalactite, suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier, is truly astounding. Visitors can hardly believe that it was formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years. Extend the adventure from underground to over ground following a charming Farmland Nature Trail that takes a looped walk around the cave setting.
- Dolphin Watching – On the western seaboard of Ireland there are places where the distinction between land and sea is blurred. The west Clare peninsula in County Clare, guarding the northern shore of the Shannon estuary is one such place. The Shannon estuary is home to Ireland’s only resident group of bottlenose dolphins. Over 100 dolphins have been identified using the estuary at different times; calves are born each year and are usually encountered.
- Rock Climbing – The Burren climbing area is beautiful, with amazing cliffs and spectacular views and climbing instruction for all levels. With a large number of indoor climbing walls developing around the country, there is an increasing interest in trying it out on the real thing.
I think we all know Clare can boost of her nature credentials and stunning beauty but it is also a place rich in culture as around every corner there is a trad festival or trad music nights to enjoy. It is a place where you can bring children to enjoy these fabulous sounds and events often with live music during the day. While my children don’t normally see the inside of a pub from one end of the year to the next I love to bring them in to see a session and Clare is the perfect spot to do so. Some of the great pubs renowned for their sessions would be:
- Gus O’Connors Pub, Doolin
- The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna
- Brogan’s Bar, Ennis
- Vaaughan’s Pub, Kilfernora
The most famous Trad festival in Clare has to be Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy taking place every year on the first year of July. It is a week-long summer school of Irish traditional music, song and dance, incorporating tuition, lectures, recitals, concerts and céilithe. Thousands decend on the small town of Milltown Malbay every year and it is a mecca of traditional players from across the globe.
The long, mild afternoons at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy are devoted to lectures on the various aspects of Irish traditional music heritage and its connections with mainland Europe and North America. There are recitals each evening showcasing the instruments taught at the school, performances in traditional song and dance, and céilithe nightly. The serious work of tuition is complemented by the festival atmosphere in hotels, pubs and on the streets, as students, locals and visitors celebrate Irish traditional music. It’s simply perfect for lovers of music, history, and the craic agus ceol. If you enjoy trad music and are looking for something different look not further than this as one of the top family breaks Clare.
When looking for places to stay you will have plenty of choice for the family in the following hotels never mind all the camp sites available:
So when you are thinking about your next break away there is something for everyone in Clare and that’s I would consider family breaks Clare to one of the best.
Exhilarating Adventures at Castlecomer
Our latest adventures took us at last to the renowned Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny which is set in the former grounds of the Wandesforde Estate, comprising of 80 acres of stunning natural woodland and lakes and among the top 5 attractions in Kilkenny listed on Trip Advisor.
While many visit the park to stroll along the many walking trails throughout, play in the playground or enjoy the beauty we tried our hand at some of their key attractions such as a Tree Top adventure walk, a climbing wall, pedal boats and canadian canoes on the upper lake, woodland play area (Junior Woodland Adventure Course, hand-crafted Bluebell Playhouse and Elf & Fairy Village), the longest over-water zipline in Ireland (300m long and 35m at its highest point), Advanced High Ropes Course and finally archery.
When we arrived we were delighted that we booked our activities in advance as the crowds were building as early as 9.30am. However, we soon discovered that many were just going for a stroll. The tree top adventure walk was our first activity of the day and suited for children aged 7 years plus. Saoirse was our only brave solider to complete the course with confidence and I for one was delighted that I was the one left holding the camera.
Sean was able to take Shanea through most of the obstacles which was great for any small ones with a fear of heights and she was more than thrilled that she had completed such a challenge when she was done.
The team were very friendly and encouraged them to figure out each part from the ground and up in the towers which was a great support. By the time we had finished it the queue was quit long so I would recommend you book this in advance and get there early. This activity alone is enough to travel to Castlecomer for as the children were so excited by it and it was a great boost to their confidence.
The climbing wall is also in this area and once the children had finished their tree-top walk they tried the three different levels of the climbing wall and we were delighted to see how far they each got. Again, the team members here helped them figure out the best moves and encouraged them all the way.
We barely had time to catch our breaths before we were racing after Saoirse and Shanea in search of The Elf and Fairy Village. It was not hard to find and only a short distance into the woodland.
It was the first time we came across a fairy village of this size and it was gorgeous to walk around and see the children play their games among the fairies and around their village. The Canopy Cafe is now open here so this is the perfect spot for a cuppa, chat and some general R&R time in picturesque surroundings.
With our tummies rumbling after all the fresh air and fun we strolled back down to the entrance to find a spot of lunch and in the charmingly restored farm buildings is a splendid restaurant serving most sumptuous food. We did not expect a restaurant with such creative and tasty gourmet. The Jarrow Cafe offers plenty of choice for both parents and children and at very reasonable prices.
Give yourself a little time to digest the food before heading out for more adventures with a wander in the craftyard or even take in The Coal Museum at next to The Jarrow Cafe.We had a busy day ahead though so we headed straight back out into the woodlands and discovered some delightful little animals along the way. Sean and Adam bravely had a go on the Zipwire which is the longest over-water zipline in Ireland! It is 300 metres long and 35 metres over the ground at its highest point. This took some time as it was no easy task and they had to find the courage to take the jump but once done they said it was amazing. I was only glad that someone had to hold the camera again but my pictures do not do justice to the scale of the wire.
The advanced high ropes are also located up with the zipwire but my two boys were still shaking after the zipwire so asking them to try out these could have been pushing it and made a plan to try these on our next visit.
Our last activity for the day was the pedal boats which were great craic after all the early exhilarating challenges. This is such a relaxed activity and all the family had great fun. The boys were on one boat and the girls another so there was nothing for it but a half an hour of boys against the girls as we raced up and down the lake.
You can also canoe on this lake but we had already tried to fit in too much into our day.
The children had to be coaxed back to the car on our backs and with alot of pleading. All in all we had an amazing day and we could return time and time again with so much to keep us occupied as we get braver and braver!! We did not even try out all the activities available or strolled through the woods on the many walkways as we had so much to do. The only fault I had was that there is no Caravan and campsite at the edge of the park as you could have days and days of fun here which is why it deserves to be among the top 5 attractions in Kilkenny. There is nothing for it but Castlecomer we will be back to sample the rest of what you have in store. To find out more about prices and opening times for Castlecomer Discovery Park click here or for more info on our top 5 attractions in Kilkenny click here!
Seaside Foraging with Sea Synergy
Seaside foraging is an age old fun activity and something that I love as the children are outdoors and learning but best of all my children love it more so much so we went out on a drizzling August day and by the end of the session the rain down poured but I had to still drag them off the beach kicking and screaming as they did not want it to end!
Sea Synergy based in Waterville in Kerry offer sea activities including foraging all along the South Kerry coast and a morning foraging is a great way to spend some time with the kids. We met Lucy, a marine biologist Sea Synergy on Glanleam Beach in Valentia Island and she brought us on a little adventure!
Lucy first introduced us to a number of items she has collected over the years including shells and marine wildlife bones before we all took to the shoreline looking for items washed up from the sea. Marine life can be found in so many places including along the walls, on the rocks, under rocks and in rock pools as well before you even go to the sea. Lucy also provided fishing nets for a spot of fishing and Saoirse picked a crab out of the water causing for great excitement.
The children were in their element learning about all the items we discovered and even did not notice the drizzle of rain that began a little while into our adventure. We got great ideas and tips from Lucy for our own expeditions but found this session very good as we got so much information from Lucy on our travels and she knew just where to look for things we would never find.
Sea synergy run workshops from Waterville and are also hoping to do the same from Valentia in the summer. I for one would travel just to attend these workshops as it encourages a great interest in exploring and the great outdoors in already curious minds! Sea Synergy will also come out to locations of your choosing for small groups or families t so you can enjoy a spot of foraging. They offer a huge range of services so make sure you check out their page.
Foraging for blackberries is such a fun and uplifting experience for kids to enjoy while encouraging children to set a life-long interest in nature and natural un-processed foods. Look out for blackberries growing on bramble bushes in woodland and hedgerows. (Avoid picking any next to roadsides though – they’ll be polluted by traffic fumes).
With blackberry picking, it’s all about timing keep an eye out from the end of August but do not wait too late and miss out to Jack Frost. My advice is to get picking as soon as possible to ensure a quality yield. There are superstitions around picking berries after the end of September. It is said that they are then to be left for the fairies, (or the Púca). This coincides with the fact that the berries tend to be mouldy and quite unappetising by that stage.
Blackberries are bursting full off berry goodness, being mineral rich and high in magnesium and potassium. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre and it is said that some varieties have more dietary fibre, weight for weight, than wholemeal bread. They are a good source of Vitamin C, so feasting on blackberries is a pleasurable way to build up resistance to winter colds and flus.
Once you have collected your bounty its time to go home and have fun making jams, smoothies, blackberry crumble or just freeze a few so you can continue to enjoy their flavour throughout the winter. All in all you can get more than just a few hours of fun from your day out and best of all, you don’t need your wallet to cash in on the yields.
Quick and Easy Recipe for Blackberry Jam
- Place 1kg of sugar, 1kg of blackberries and juice and zest of one lemon in a large pot.
- Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until all the sugar dissolves.
- Cook the jam for approximately 15 minutes or until it reaches 105˚C on a sugar thermometer.
A Beach Trek in Caherdaniel
Eagle Rock Equestrian is one of Ireland’s best known, oldest established equestrian centres and is located in the stunning surroundings of Derrynane National Historic Park. There are a number of routes available including a beach trek, woodland trek and mountain Trek. We choose to try out the beach trek as the beaches in this area are just gorgeous.
The equestrian centre is very easy to find and was only a 40 minute trip along the most breathtaking coastline from our base in Valentia. The base itself is a beautiful listed building and a ten minute trek to the beach itself. As we prepared for our trek a more experienced group of riders on a two hour trek were returning and most of these riders seemed to be regular tourists who were very impressed with Caroline Donnelly’s service so much so that they were eager to book further treks which was difficult as they were so busy.
As novices to the horse riding world our tutors were very helpful and took alot of time to ensure the children were at ease on their saddles before heading off onto the road to make the short trek to the beach. The beach was the perfect safe enviornment for the children to enjoy this age old activity and offered plenty of areas to explore such as the sand dunes and streams to cross making for a very exciting ride.
Some treks can be a walk from A to B with pleasant scenary but what we experienced was a trek with a difference with the most breathtaking views in a comfortable and safe enviornment.
The trek itself was approx 1 hour which was just enough to tire everyone out and costs €30.00 per person in a group or you can also get a 30 minute ride out for children from €15.00.
There is something very special about the relationship between horse and man, its a magical activity and such a fun things to do with the kids in Kerry!
Cara Motorhomes, Campervans Ireland
We associate campervans with holidays in France and not so much Ireland but this misconception is fast changing and campervans are becoming a popular choice for families wishing to explore this great country. Now when I mentioned campervans to a few friends they raised concerns such as space and having to drive it everywhere but I can assure you that the campervans of today are very spacious and so convenient. Cara Motorhomes offer modern and spacious campervans that are no more than a couple of years old. Each of their campervans houses all the mod cons one would expect for an enjoyable family holiday and plenty of storage for the endless paraphernalia required for any family break. You can take the bikes, toys, hiking gear, plenty of clothes for all eventualities and even the kitchen sink (if one is not enough) and I bet you will have room to spare.
The staffs at Cara Motorhomes are very friendly and offered great advice and tips for us novices. All we had to do was turn up with our suitcases and a grocery shop and they had everything else we needed for the next few days. To say I was impressed with our new home was an understatement as my own house has never been so spotless and pristine and I would challenge any hotel to beat it in that department. It was well laid out and fitted so much into such a small space without feeling cramped even offering plenty of segregated spaces to enjoy.
The children were mesmerised by what seemed like a little playhouse on wheels and were full of excitement for their journey ahead. Once on the road I soon forgot all concerns I had about been over crowded as the campervans offer oodles of space and comfort for not only mum and dad on the journey but also the children who were belted into seats at the kitchen table where they had their snacks and played with their toys. This was a most relaxing spin and rarely were the words “are we there yet” uttered.
Our journey took us from Limerick to Westport in luxurious style. What I liked the most is that we could pull in at any stage for a snack or a spot of lunch and the children could stretch their legs or have a toilet break before we headed off again. Some may say that you have the bring the campervan everywhere with you when you are travelling around but I thought that was a great advantage with small kids in tow as everything was on hand and did not have to be packed or unpacked and there was no searching for restaurants at the last minute as meals and snacks could be prepared at the side of the road when required, not to mention a luxurious toilet always on hand.
We had all the facilities we needed included a toilet that you could eat your dinner off, shower, cooking and washing facilities and we had gas and water if we were parked up off a campsite and needed to cook. On one occasion during our trip we took off once we were up and before breakfast to get to our destination early and enjoyed our breakfast once we had arrived, cleaned ourselves up and headed off from here!
Our destination was Westport House and the trip did not take us too much longer than a car. Once we arrived at our campsite we were hooked up in no time as we had been given an in depth briefing on our campervan before we set off that day. The campervan was cleverly laid out with our double bed coming down from the roof and we even had a television to enjoy once the kids had nodded off or even a cheeky glass of wine on our outdoor table and chairs provided. Many parents sat out of an evening and enjoyed a chat while the children were in blissful slumber which you cannot do in a hotel or a lot of holiday homes.
Each morning it took just a few minutes to organise ourselves again before we were set up for the day but no more than you would do when tidying up a hotel room or holiday home and in fact the campervan was so neat and organised that there was little if no cleaning most of the time. We just got the kids in the habit of putting things back in their place once they were finished with them.
Westport House is very conveniently located close to Westport town so we often walked into town and had a shop on site which meant we did not have to pack up if we ran out of milk but just throw the bike in the back where you could fit an army tank and if you need to run out for something use that! We never found it inconvenient and we would not always be the most organised. We explored the beautiful countryside around Westport and Mayo for a few days but I was sorry that we had not planned a longer trip, may be along The Wild Atlantic way as I found it to the easiest way to travel and holiday with children while covering a large area of ground.
We met some families on our journey that were travelling from Mayo through Galway and onto Clare over two and three weeks in the campervans and without one I don’t think you could do such a trip lugging all the gear and going from place to place. Every few days the children of these families had the opportunities to explore new surroundings and make new friends in the many caravan and camping sites doted along the way which I must say are fast coming up to European standards. Once you get bored of a place you can move on or if you are pleasantly surprised why not stay longer. Most sites can be booked that day or a day in advance. Some mums suggested that they used the facilities on site when they were good and if they were not 100% they always had the fall back of the shower and toilet on the campervan.
I would certainly recommend a campervan as one of the best ways to discover the dramatic beauty and adventure that Ireland can offer you and your family to create memories that will cherish for many years to come. Take it to the beach for a day, explore the rugged parklands and woodlands or just park it up and head off for a cycle on our every growing greenway routes. Campervans Ireland is fast becoming two words associated with one another. A campervan is no more expensive than other family options but there is a large deposit which I can appreciate as it ensures that the standards of these fabulous vehicles are keep to a very high standard. Cara Motorhomes will offer a drop off and collection service in most of the main cities of Ireland and are very flexible in their dealings so why not give their team a call and find out more …
Fota House Easter Egg Hunt
This year the annual Fota Easter Egg Hunt had a a Peter Rabbit and Friends theme and even the sometimes damp weather did not spoil our fun.
The grounds at Fota House are gorgeous and lend themselves perfectly to the adventures of Peter Rabbit including Mr. McGregors garden and much more…
The children had great fun enjoying the activities set up for them, following the trail and most of all running along the gorgeous landscaped gardens. They did not even notice the drizzle of rain that fell from time to time.
The trail was set it very well with plenty of sign posts to follow and fun stops on the way. There was plenty of time and space to run and explore for little excited ones! Fota House and Gardens is an excellent place to explore to pass away an afternoon, check out more by clicking here!
The team members at each stage were very friendly and interacted great with the children but that was not the end of the Fota Easter Egg Hunt as there were old time games set up for the children to enjoy while the parents sampled the delights of the market stalls in front of the house! Once the children had completed the trail and handed up their cards, they received a well deserved chocolate egg!
The egg hunt was well organised and collecting your cards was seemless so well done to Fota House and Gardens for organising such a fun activity in the great outdoors. Each ticket cost €8.50 and adults were free and you could spend a good half a day here so great value for money! Don’t forget to keep an eye out for more activities on http://fotahouse.com/
The Great Western Greenway
The Great Western Greenway with Clew Bay Cycles
No trip to Westport would be complete without a cycle along the World Class Great Western Greenway (Westport – Achill) which is a 42km traffic free cycling facility and primarily follows the line of the famous Great Western Midlands Railway, which closed in 1937. The route offers gentle gradients and some of the most idyllic scenery in the West of Ireland. We always try to tie in some cycling on our holidays as our children love to cycle and more so with us.
We contacted Clew Bay Bike Hire and found them very helpful as obviously we would not cycle 42km during our short trip so they advised us of the best route for our family. They recommended that we drive to the town of Newport and collect our bikes here. Then we cycled the 18km to Mulranny. The journey took us approx. 3 to 4 hours as we stop for plenty of rests, snacks and chats on the way. It was a very safe route as you were only close to the road at the start for approx 1km. After this we were travelling through open farm lands often sharing the path with the sheep doted across this landscape. The scenery was breath-taking and even though it was not the warmest day of the year it was so refreshing cycling through the open countryside. The children were relaxed and enjoyed the freedom as they could come to no harm. There are a couple of cafes that you can stop at for refreshments or lunch and at one of these stops we spoke to a family that were doing our route in reverse and both ways. They felt that the reverse journey was easier and more downhill.
We rented two adult and two children’s bikes from Clew Bay Bike hire and I must say that they took safety very seriously and checked the children more than once to see if they had the right bikes for their size. They offered us plenty of family solutions including carriers, toddler trailers, family bike units and children’s bikes that attach to adult bikes. Our children are keen cyclists and regularly cycle long journeys so we were confident that the four single bikes would do but there is a gradient hill as you get closer to Mulranny and they did tire at this point so I felt that we could have done with a child’s bike attach to our bikes as let’s face it, it is 18 km and can be hilly at times.
Once we arrived at Mulranny we were met by the team of Clew Bay Bike Hire who took our bikes from here so we could avail of their pickup service to be brought back to Newport. This pick-up service is all part of the service and was a welcome reprieve for two tired soldiers (and mum) who have a short nap on the journey home. There are shorter or longer routes along the greenway which Clew Bay Bike Hire have stations doted all along. You could bring your own bikes and then the greenway would be free but often it is easier to rent the bikes once you arrive at our destination as there only so much you can get into the boot. Clew Bay Bike Hire have many packages to choose from and offer excellent family discounts so you can have a great day out for all the family that will not cost you your shirt and best of all you will all get plenty of exercise!!! To see their packages check out the link below: http://easypeazyfamilybreaks.com/activities/bike-hire-westportclew-bay-cycles/
Westport House is one of Ireland’s best known and loved family attractions and Westport itself is one of the top destinations for families in search of adrenaline and action packed holiday in Ireland so where better to enjoy our latest break but you guessed it, Westport House. Westport House offers top of the range camping, caravan and campervan facilities right in the heart of their vast and adventurous pirate park. With our campervan from Cara Motorhomes in tow we found our pitch in a very spacious and clean camp site.
The campervans and caravans are in one site while the tents are in another. I must say from the outset we could see that the site was extremely clean and well kept. The toilet and washing facilities were some of the best I have seen so far and the site is well laid out so you never have to travel too far to the facilities but the best of all is that there is a large sand pit in the centre of the site offering the little ones plenty of entertainment while you relax. They also have bell tent options for those of you who have not invested in a tent yet or wish to enjoy the great outdoors without any of the hard work. We were booked in for three days which included a two day pass to the Pirate Adventure Park. There are plenty of packages to choose from which include most of the rides and you may extra for some of the bigger rides such as zorbing and archery.
On our first evening after a long spin we were glad to just hook up the campervan and stroll down to the pirate park to Gracy’s Gastro Bar just a few minutes away from the campsite. It is located in again some of the gorgeous historical work buildings of the original estate and not only offers an extensive Italian menu but also the most delicious stone baked pizzas cooked in the centre of the restaurant. It was the most perfect restaurant for families.
Picture this, seating outdoors under a canopy (as well as indoors) opening on to a large playground and grasslands for the little ones to explore while they wait for their kiddies meal from an extensive children’s menu with options to suit all needs including delicious healthy ones. Once our meal was over and as the evening became darker and colder we moved upstairs to an indoor play centre to run off the last of their summer energy to ensure a good night sleep for us all. What more could you ask of any family dining experience.
After enjoying a nice glass of wine and beautiful meal we walked back to our campervan and settled in for a good nice sleep. I was very impressed by the lack of noise once darkness was drawing in and was only woken in the morning to the sounds of the sheep in the adjacent field. It is clear that this camp site is very family friendly and offers the perfect solitude to sleeping children. There is nothing worse than a camp site where our sleep is broken by other late night or early morning guests.
Westport House is also open to day visitors but if you are coming for a day make sure you have a full day or even plan two days so you can enjoy the full experience. So the park is made up of a couple of sections. You can explore the main house with its many rooms displaying life as it was in a prominent manor house and even the children loved it as there was plenty for them to see and enjoy also. There is a quaint little café in the original kitchens where you can take a break and soak up the surroundings.
Outside, the park offers rides for young and old including Cannonball Run slide, Pirates Swinging Ship and Pirates Plunge log flume ride, Swan Pedal Boats on the lake and much more. The best part of all is that the rides will excite all ages and offers loads of opportunities for families to enjoy together. Most of these rides we took part as a family something that excites our kids the most. Even the large slides are open to families and we had a family tournament on one of these many slides. There is so much more including karting, bouncy castles, the train express and indoor soft play centres. We had great fun paddling the swan pedal boats on the lake to the rear of the house and this called for plenty of teamwork, the ultimate family challenge……
There is plenty to keep you entertained before you move onto the extra activities on site and these can be easily avoided if you don’t want to be saying no which I taught was quite clever. We started with zorbing which can be done wet or drive. The wet option is a lot easier and again we jumped into the zorbs as a family. This was the ultimate adrenaline ride and even though we were drowned at the end we would have done it again and again. Zorbing starts at €18 or €39 for three. You can team the zorbing up with the zip wire for a combo ticket starting at €20.00. The zip wire is well worth a go, even though it is from a scaringly large height. After a shaky start we could not get back up fast enough for our second go.
Some of the other extra activities on site included archery, tag archery and a sky challenge. We tried out the sky challenge on our second day. Starting at 3 meters in the air we worked our away around 26 different elements over 3 different levels taking you closer to the sky each time. When I say “we”, I mean Craig and the children as I chickened out after the first level. Thomas managed the first two while Saoirse and Craig completed all three.
Elements include; Steps in the Sky, Heebie Jeebie, Postman’s Walk & Swinging Bridge to name a few. The course finished with the Skyline, an adrenaline filled ride through the trees. And if that’s not enough we had to come down via a free fall jump to the ground.
Thankfully, there is a stairs for the less adventurous. The staffs were amazing here and encouraged the children all the way offering plenty of support. This activity takes an hour and you will need a rest once you are back on the ground.
The Sky Challenge starts at €18. We found archery great fun for the adults but I would recommend that this is an activity for older children with mum and dad but be warned, it can get quite competitive.
I would certainly suggest adding in one or two of the activities with your park tickets as they offer amazing adrenaline fuelled experiences which you are unlikely to experience that often. They were exceptionally organised and very good value.
All the activities encouraged children big and small to take a chance and come out of their comfort zone developing their confidence and improving their self-esteem.
The location of Westport House could not be more convenient as it is just a five minute drive and a 15 minute stroll from Westport town while situated in the park’s rich historical surroundings, enchanting forests and the action-packed adventure activities and attractions.
The gates open out in the centre of the large town of Westport. We choose to walk out to the town on our second evening for a bite to eat in one of the many family friendly restaurants in this beautiful town, The Milltimes Restaurant. There are plenty of little shops to catch your eye and we stopped off in some of the lovely bakeries to pick up fresh bread and treats to bring back to our campervan. We found Westport House to be an ideal base to explore Westport and many other locations beyond.
After a long day off exploring Westport House offered the perfect oasis for a family to unwind. You could just stay on site and enjoy all the park has to offer if you would never feel the need to go any further also. Westport House is well worth a visit either for a day or a fun relaxing break even so much so we are planning another trip to Westport this year as we did not get a chance to explore all that was on offer around this wonderful area and I don’t think we could tire of such an actioned packed park. To find out more click here!
The Waterford & Suir Valley Railway
I’ve travelled the Waterford Bypass many times, but I never knew that metres from that very road lies a hidden gem, The Waterford & Suir Valley Railway.
The railway is a heritage project that runs hourly services along the 8.5km of the old Dungarven – Waterford route, much to the enjoyment of novelty seeking children and with plenty of impressive panoramic views for the grownups
We arrived at the station (which is easily found just a couple of hundred metres off the Main Waterford Bypass) 40 minutes before the next train was due to leave, and so I thought we might have a job keeping 3 young children amused for that time. However, the friendly team at the railway had gladly thought so too. First the children lined up for face painting, and then after a quick bite to eat on the picnic benches, we combed the station to find each item printed on our colourful activity sheet.
Along with the arrival of the train on the hour, the children were also surprised with the appearance of two familiar faces in Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam. After a quick hello and cuddle with the aforementioned characters, we boarded our partially open carriages and waved goodbye.
The activity sheets in the children’s hands had four unmarked pictures, including the ruins of Kilmeaden Castle and a Lime Kiln, which were to be checked off on the journey. Along the route, one is afforded an opportunity to take in the colourful and expansive scenery that the banks of the River Suir has to offer. The children on the other hand were waiting for one part of the map in particular, The Magic Woods.
At the Magic Woods, fairies can be seen climbing about their little wooden houses, where bridges connect the village in the trees. The train stops here for a few moments while little hands point in admiration at the enchanted site.
The spin remained enjoyable all the way back to the station, though some children in our group did mention they were a bit bored by the end.
The excitement levels rose again when we arrived back at the station which was a hub of activity again in contrast to the tranquil trek we had just completed.
Photos were taken with Peppa, time was spent with Fireman Sam on the play mat and the children were eventually corralled back to the boring four wheeled car.
The cost for 2 adults and 3 children was €23. This might seem a bit steep for a 40 minute train journey, but when you take into account the fun at the station before and after the train ride, it’s actually good value for money.
There’s a nice café in a restored train carriage, or as I said, picnic benches outside if you would like to bring your own lunch. There is also toilets and baby changing facilities.
If you are in the South East and looking to spend a few hours on something that’s a bit different, take a trip over to the Suir Valley Railway and you won’t be disappointed.