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

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

 
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  irishtimes.com/summeroffamily

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. 

ONE WALK

Name Center Parcs Circuit
Distance 4km loop
Approximate duration 1 hour
Difficulty Easy
Starting point Google Maps Center Parcs entrance (grid reference N 188 561)
Amenities Limited parking
Route follows a walkway developed by Center Parcs as a gift for the local community. This state-of-the-art trail tags the forestry that surrounds the extensive site but offers only tantalising glances of the holiday complex.

ONE RUN

Name: Royal Canal Way: Ballymahon to Cloondara
Length: 25.3km
Elevation gain: 415m
Route type: Point to point

Route Information: One of the biggest towns along the Royal Canal Greenway, Longford is full of great accommodation options and places to eat and drink after a busy day walking or cycling along the Greenway. Located 122km from Dublin and 91km from Sligo, Longford lies on the Dublin to Sligo line of the Irish railway network so is easily accessed by train or by car. Alternatively begin your journey from the tranquil harbour village of Cloondara. This picturesque village is home to plenty of barge boats and the final lock of the canal. From this location you can also explore the Shannon Blueway.

Follow the Greenway South from Longford Town: From Longford Town access the Greenway from Canal Walk and follow the 8km Longford Branch line of the Royal Canal. This completely flat route provides an excellent way to enjoy some of Longford’s unspoilt landscape. As you reach the Royal Canal Greenway, the choice is yours whether to journey north along the canal towards Cloondara.

Follow the Greenway North to Cloondara: Once you reach the Royal Canal, follow it north for a further 8km to Cloondara village. This section provides a tranquil and safe environment along the quiet banks of the Royal Canal.

Follow the Greenway South from Cloondara: From Cloondara follow the greenway South along quiet off-road trails past a series of lock gates towards Keenagh and Ballymahon. A great place to stop along this section of trail is the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre located close to the Greenway at Keenagh. (Aided by: Longford.ie)

ONE HIKE

Hike name Derrycassin Woods Walk
Distance 5km
Elevation gain 60m
Approximate duration 1-1.5 hours
Difficulty Beginner
Route type Loop
Starting point Google Maps “Derrycassin Woods Walk and Playground
Amenities Parking, picnic tables
Dog-friendly? Yes
Tips Make your walk longer – build your own trail

ONE OUTDOOR SWIM

Name: Lough Ree
Location: Google Map: Lanesboro commons woodland walk
Description:
On Lough Ree between Athlone and Tarmonbarry. No boats or cruisers enter this area which makes it very safe for families or individuals to swim. Big green area beside the water
Amenities: Car park (toilets other side of the water in Roscommon where boats go)
Lifeguard: No
Water quality: Good status – EPA 2013-2018 report
Tips: A number of different groups such as Lough Ree Orcas and Tri Lanesboro swim here, There are three markers which anybody can use to swim around with an estimated distance of 500m and about 100m swim to the first marker. You can also swim up along the wall where it is shallow. Locals swim all year round.

Lough Ree, Co Longford is very safe for families or individuals to swim as no boats or cruisers enter this area.
Lough Ree, Co Longford is very safe for families or individuals to swim as no boats or cruisers enter this area.

ONE CYCLE

Name: Royal Canal Greenway
Start location: Cloondara
Route: Starting from Cloondara (or Longford town), heading south via Keenagh, Ballymahon, Abbeyshrule as far as Ballynacarrigy for a beautifully tranquil stretch of the county
Distance: 45km
Time: 2-3 hours
Highlights: A tidy 130km in full, the Royal Canal Greenway follows the historic 225-year-old canal and was launched ahead of the summer 2021 season.
Look out for: The 165km National Famine Way, which also follows part of this
route.
Tips: Remember this is a shared greenway with walkers so be patient and alert.

Royal Canal Greenway.

ONE PARK

Park name: Leebeen Park, Aughnacliffe
Amenities: Nature trails, a green gym, walking loops and a boardwalk along the lake.
Special features: The timber frame playground overlooks the lake and has an excellent zip wire. Also, a fairy garden for little ones.
Access: car park on site. Google Map “Leebeen Park”.
Dogs: Yes.
Tip: Consider visiting the Pulliness Waterfall, a short walk from the park.

ONE OUTDOOR GYM

Name: Albert Reynolds Peace Park (the Mall), Longford Town
Equipment: Fitness rider, walker, chest press, lat pull-down, dip bars, chin-up, stepper, leg press, ab curl, cross trainer, rotator, shoulder flexor, hand cycle, body twist, bicycle, rower,
Location: Google Maps
Information: This park also hosts a ParkRun on Saturdays at 9.30am.

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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