Midlands Outdoor Activities

 

Midlands Outdoor Activities: Four to Five Day Tour

Start: Mullingar, County Westmeath   Finish: Mullingar, County Westmeath

Recommended Length: 4-5 days

Total distance:  363km/227mls

Day One: Mullingar, County Westmeath

Distance: 57 km, 36 mls

1  Start off your tour in the heart of Ireland, County Westmeath, which boasts a range of breathtaking scenery from rolling hills, unspoilt countryside and wild boglands to diverse features including beautiful lakes, tranquil canals and the mighty River Shannon. Westmeath has superb angling facilities and is the perfect location for cruising and watersports. 

2  Begin in Mullingar, the county town. 

3  Next, visit historic Athlone with its Castle & Visitor Centre, which is located on the Shannon below Lough Ree. Several companies in Athlone offer cruises on the River Shannon, and visitors can also hire barges to travel on the Royal Canal. 

4  There are also three sailing centres in Westmeath. Lough Ree Yacht Club, Wineport Sailing Centre and the sailing centre on Lough Owel. 

5  Anglers are well catered for with boats for hire, fishing tackle, outlets and expert advice all available.

6   There are many waymarked walks of varying lengths along the rivers and canal in Westmeath, which are well worth doing.

Day Two: County Longford and County Roscommon

Distance: 75 km, 47 mls

1   Continue along the N55 from Athlone to County Longford where you are never far from water – the River Shannon, Lough Ree, the River Inny and Lough Gowan all flow through here. Longford has over 60 lakes and rivers for angling, cruising, watersports or walking.  

2   Make sure you see where the Royal Canal joins the Shannon at Clondra (N63) with its magnificent cut stone harbour.

3  Also worth a visit is Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre in Kenagh, with an exhibition on an Iron Age bog road built in the year 148 BC across the boglands to the river Shannon. 

4  A small detour along the N5 at Longford will take you to Strokestown in County Roscommon. Strokestown Park House & Gardens is a must see. There is a wonderful Famine Museum located in the grounds telling the story of the Irish famine and how it affected the midlands in Ireland.

Day Three: County Leitrim

Distance: 72 km, 45 mls

1  Next stop on the N4 is County Leitrim. Leitrim has a gentle landscape with rolling hills and broad plains, and is peppered with lakes, the largest of which are Lough Allen and Lough Melvin. 

2  First stop in Carrick-on-Shannon, the smallest county town in Ireland and one that is steeped in history. It is a major centre for cruising in Leitrim and has superb modern marina facilities. 

3  From here sailors have access to the Shannon-Erne Waterway, which will bring you north through Cavan to Fermangh and Lough Erne. Short river cruises are available, as are weekends or a week’s holiday. 

4  Derrycarne Woods north of Dromod is along a lake shore (N4 from Longford). There are spectacular riverside walks and other amenities available.

5  Continue on to Drumshanbo, a pretty village situated on Lough Allen.  Drumshanbo is a very ancient town tracing its history back to cave dwellings alongside Lough Allen in prehistoric times. 

6  Visit the Sliabh an Iarainn visitor centre, which tells the story of the county. 

7  One area of outstanding beauty and a must-see is Glencar waterfall situated 11 km west of Manorhamilton (N16). This spectacular waterfall cascades 50m from a rocky headland. A lovely woodland walk leads to it. 

8  There are also a host of marked walks in Leitrim, including the Leitrim Way, which covers 30 miles along lakes and rivers from Dowra to Manorhamilton.

Day Four: County Cavan and County Westmeath

Distance: 158 km, 99 mls

1  Continue south on the N87 to County Cavan, which offers peaceful lakes. Cavan is a perfect county for fishing and watersports and is still undisturbed by commercialisation and development. 

2  The blanket bog habitat of Cavan offers sanctuary to amazing plants. 

3  Like all the above mentioned midland counties cruising on the Shannon-Erne Waterway is a very popular activity and boats can be hired from a base in Belturbet in the north of the county (N54). Beltubert is now an important centre for holidaymakers. Visit the old the railway station, which has recently been restored as a visitor centre 

4  Cavan Town is the only medieval town in Ireland founded by the Irish themselves and has many fine buildings to visit. 

5  Stop off in Killeshandra an important angling town located on Lough Oughter around whose lakes and islands Killykeen Forest Park winds itself. This delightful 600-acre park has a number of waymarked walks through deciduous woodland and by the water. It is a haven for birds and wildlife and contains many historical sites. Many sports such as canoeing and sailing are available.  

6  Continue south along the N3 through Ballyjamesduff with Cavan County Museum before finishing the loop in Mullingar.

 

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