Co Cavan: one walk, one run, one hike, one swim, one cycle, one park and one outdoor gym

Your essential, outdoor, family-friendly guide to Co Cavan

This summer, The Irish Times will offer tips, advice and information for parents on how to help their children thrive during the holiday months. Read all about it at

When the weather is good, there is so much to do outdoors in Ireland – solo, or with family or friends. Here are seven activities - with locations, descriptions, tips and some maps for a general guide.

Below you can read John O’Dwyer’s pick for a great walking path, Conor O’Keeffe on a running route, Rozanna Purcell recommends a hiking trail, Mary McCarthy on an outdoor swimming location, Ian O'Riordan picks a cycle trip, Sylvia Thompson on a family-friendly park and Fiona Alston selects a popular outdoor gym.

And remember, whatever you do and wherever you go, please be safe. And enjoy. 


Name Promontory Fort Trail
Distance 3km
Approximate duration 1 hour
Difficulty Moderate
Starting point Google Maps Burren Forest Carpark (grid reference H 073 351); you can follow this Discover Ireland guide
Amenities Parking and interpretive centre
Trail explores a prehistoric landscape rich with antiquities while offering memorable panoramas over the surrounding countryside. Highlights include, views over Tullygobban Lough, the Giant’s Leap Wedge Tomb, the Lost Valley and an ancient hill fort.


Name: Castle Lake Loop – Bailieborough
Length: 6.5km
Grade: Easy
Route type: Loop
Footwear: Road or Trail Runners
Dogs: Dogs are permitted, dogs must be kept on a lead.
Background: The Irish language translation of Bailieborough is Coill an Chollaigh, meaning forest of the boar. Today, you are not going to encounter any boars in this small County Cavan town, well known for its proximity to lakes and forests. Nor indeed, will you meet any in Castle Lake forestry, where this loop has been developed.

Route Information: The loop begins and ends at the car park on the lakeshore and takes you around Castle Lake, with some stunning views and interesting sites along the way, including a memorial to those who died at Rebel Hill in 1798. The longer loop (an additional 3 kilometres) takes you by the graves of the Marist brothers who occupied Bailieborough Castle. The castle (the remains of which are also to be seen in the forest) was built by William Bailie, a Scottish undertaker or planter, who was granted the lands of Tandragee in east Breffni by King James I. He built the castle and enclosed the demesne by 1629. 
Start from the car park at Castle Lake. Facing the lake, start through the barrier on your right. Follow the blue arrows along a forestry road on the southern end of the lake. After a kilometre, veer left at a Y-junction and continue for another kilometre to reach a crossroads. Turn left here. After 100 metres turn sharp left at another crossroads. Climbing gently now, the loop soon affords you spectacular views over Castle Lake and the surrounding countryside. Descending again you reach a wooden footbridge which takes you across a river. Shortly after crossing the footbridge the loop rejoins the lakeshore, the trailhead is only 600 metres away. (Aided by: This Is Cavan)

Castle Lake Loop.


Hike name Killykeen Forest Park
Distance 4.8km
Elevation gain 101m
Approximate duration 1 hour
Difficulty Beginner
Route type Loop
Starting point See AllTrails Killykeen Forest Park Circular
Amenities Parking, picnic tables
Dog friendly Yes
Tips Stop in by Cabu by the Lakes post-walk for tea and snacks


Name: Annagh Lake
Location: Google Map: Butlersbridge. Drive past until you reach a left turn and the signpost
Brief description: Spring lake with sandy beach in picturesque location
Amenities: Car park, changing room (funds have been allocated to update facilities)
Lifeguard: No
Tips: You can walk out to your depth, lovely sandy lake bed so no need for swim shoes. 100 yards to the left is a much deeper swimming spot


Name: Killykeen Forest Loop
Start location: Killykeen Forest Park
Route: Starting with a 3km designated family cycling trail around the 240 hectares of Killykeen Forest Park, 12km outside Cavan town, this is also the perfect base to explore the wider Cavan lakes area.
Distance: 3km and beyond
Time: Minimum 1 hour
Highlights: Lough Oughter, renowned for local course fishing.
Look out for: The road for Killashandra which opens up the lakes for a longer cycle.
Tips: For more see

Killykeen Forest Loop.


Park name: Cavan Burren Park
Amenities: With over 10km of trails through one of Ireland’s most intact prehistoric landscapes, this is a perfect destination for geology and archaeology enthusiasts.
Special features: Signs along the walking trails explain the megalithic tombs and geological layers under your feet.
Access: On site car parking. Google Map “Cavan Burren Park”.
Dogs: Yes, dogs on leads allowed.
Tip: Discover the history of this ancient landscape in the interpretative centre or consider booking a tour with a local tour guide.


Name: Con Smith Park Recreational Facility Outdoor Gym
Equipment: Walkers, cross trainers, shoulder flexors, shoulder extensions, standing and seated body twists.
Location: Google Maps
Information: This park is a great place to exercise and has a kids play park, and a skate park.

Con Smith Park.
Con Smith Park

Get Active Series
- 32 great walking routes in Ireland - one in each county
- 32 great hikes in Ireland
- 32 great running routes
- 32 great outdoor swim locations
- 32 great cycling routes
- 32 great parks
- 32 great outdoor gyms

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