Wicklow is known as the ‘Garden of Ireland’ as it boasts many gorgeous grand houses with sumptuous formal gardens such as Kilruddery, Russborough, Avondale and Powers court as well as been home to Ireland’s largest National Parks and the only one located in the east of the country.
I have been keen to explore this part of Ireland for some time now and when I came across Clissmann Horse Drawn Caravans I thought what better way to immerse ourselves in these surroundings but on one of the best Family Glamping Holidays. You have the option to take the horse drawn caravans out on 3, 5, 7 day trips or stay put in their farm a few minutes walk from the Vale of Clara Nature Reserve and we choose just to do that and really switch off!
This is really a holiday about turning off all screens, chilling out in your wellies and getting in touch with nature however we soon discovered it was about we got to spend time enjoying each other’s company too in a way that you often don’t on other holidays that are action packed!!
Family Accommodation in Clissmann Horse Drawn Caravans
The glamping accommodation are beautifully restored gypsy caravans and the attention to detail was superb. The bright colours both inside and out made for a playful and almost nostalgic atmosphere whereby I was remenicing on Wanderly wagon and the kids felt the whole excursion was one big cabby house play.
We had all the usual mod cons for cooking and dining including little luxuries like the all-important coffee plunger but we also had the option of the campers kitchen that was well equipped if we did not want to cook in. There is no electricity in the caravans but we did have gas for cooking and lights. We were provided with a cooler box for refrigeration and we could replenish the freezer packs daily but again there was also the option of fridges in the common areas. There even have laundry facilities for those of you that would be organised enough to wash before you go home.
There were two indoor common rooms for eating and relaxing as well as a play area with both indoors and outdoor toys. For those of you who need some connectivity they also provide free WIFI in these areas. The shower facilities were fresh and contemporary and in keeping with the simple natural feel of the place. All in all I could not fault the common areas and facilities on offer.
Things to at Clissmann Horse Drawn Caravan’s Farm
You are in a very secluded part of the country and in all directions there is countryside to explore. Just a few minutes walk would take you off the farm to the Vale of Clara Nature Reserve which is a 550 acres forest of native Irish trees with three sign-posted loop walks taking in the Avonmore River, the picture-postcard Clara Vale church and hump-back Bridge, the most idyllic setting for a picnic and dipping your toes in the river.
You are encouraged from once you arrive to visit to donkeys and take them treats and they are very sociable animals and love to meet little ones. To do so you will have to take a little walk along the farm and you can even buy special treats at the reception for this. There are many horses around the farm and again we found such neighbours very friendly and curious. In fact on one occasion we had the opportunity to walk through a field of older retired horses and the children were in their element at being so close but yet it was very safe as they were such docile creatures.
We built a campfire most evenings as this was an extremely exciting adventure for our little ones and the best part was spending the afternoon roaming the nearby forests and fields to gather wood. This activity often took a few hours and you would be surprised how far they walk when on a mission. Craig and I loved these hours as we rambled along after the troops. When we finally built our campfire in the evenings we would sit out and be joined by neighbours. It was the perfect way to end any day.
Family Things to Do in Rathdrum and Surrounds.
For such a remote and scenic location you would not believe how close you are to so many attractions and activities. That is if you want to head out for a day. To be honest for research purposes we dragged both ourselves and the kids out only for the bear minimum as we were all enjoying the chill out.
Clara Lara Park is only a 6 mins drive away and Greenan Maze and Farm 30 mins away. However, you want to keep in the nature theme try out Squirrel’s Scramble, an adventure tree park that offers fun for all the family at Killruddery House and Gardens. Glendolough is only 15 mins away and is not only free but well worth an explore. The village of Rathdrum is minutes away and if you only want a short break it has a few shops, pubs and restaurant but the cherry on top is a most fantastic playground with an even better view of the valley.
We ventured out another day and discovered a place called Ballymurrin Farmsted, which is a 17th century quaker settlement and offers a unique insight to a difficulties experienced in Wicklow by Quakers. We have a passion for history so enjoyed the hour we spent here.
On another day we ventured into the town of Greystones which also boosts a fabulous playground, gorgeous shops and cafes. This drive was only 30 mins away. Mount Usher Gardens, with its Avoca Garden Café and Courtyard Shops is situated in the village of Ashford, just a 12 minute drive away and is a great morning or afternoon out also.
On our way home we stopped at Avoca Village (only 30 mins drive) to visit the home of the original weavers mill and have something to eat. The kids enjoyed a small free tour before we headed on route for home.
All in all you do not need to head out much but enjoy chilling out and if you do there is something to do in every directions in minutes!
Places to Eat in Rathdrum and Surrounding Areas
Rathdrum is only a ten minutes drive and here you will find a supermarket with all you need for a few days or Wicklow town is a 30 mins drive for a more extensive shop.
Make sure you plan at least one meal around the open fire some evening as the kids loved this and in particularly mingling with the other other children. A good simple way to do this is sit out by the fire and make using a small portable BBQ cook your meat before eating it around the fire.
Bates Restaurants in the nearby village of Rathdrum have coveted many awards over the years and you must venture out and about at some stage to enjoy a feast there. It is easy to see why they have won many awards and you will be surprised at how busy it is for such a quite village in the middle of the week. I would recommend you book in advance. Bates offer an excellent menu in a very atmospheric old stone building. The food was divine and the children loved to watch the kitchen from behind their high counter meticulously preparing our sumptuous meals. Everything here was about quality, locally sourced and the highest standards produce. The courtyard outside offers a haven after the meal where we could enjoy a final glass of wine while the children played and explored!
Further a field, only a 20 mins drive away is Glenmalure Lodge Restaurant. I can also highly recommend this place. Glenmalure Lodge Restaurant offers exceptional cuisine within an atmospheric old style bar. This is a busy spot and with its majestic views and gorgeous gardens along with the fantastic food it is easy to see why. Nessa had given us a tip to ask about the new baby deer up the back and when we did we were pleasantly surprised to be invited up to visit. Here a young deer rescued in the nearby national park after been abandoned by her mother was been cared for by the lodge owners and in particular by the two resident sheep dogs who were very protective of her. They are often asked to take in these rescues for a period of time before they are old enough and healthy enough to return to their national environment. They also have other animals in their sheds next to the lodge and it was such a pleasant way to end the meal.
I found it very hard to think of one but all I could suggest is a little playground but then you were in the middle of a most natural and scenic playground and Rathdrum Village is only mins away.
Make sure you bring warm PJs as it can get cool in the night but once you have these you are fine. I cannot recommend strongly enough that this is place is all about sitting back, chatting, chilling, laughing, picnics, campfires, wellies, donkeys, nature, adventures and best of all little rambles so don’t waste it! It is a thumps up from me as the best family glamping holidays in Ireland.
What the Kids Said about Clissmann Horse Drawn Caravans
“My favourite part was collecting wood to build the campfire and then having our dinner at the campfire” Saoirse
“My favourite part was the donkeys” Thomas
From €90 per night