For history and architecture buffs: The Barrow Way
Despite its status as a hidden gem, the Barrow Way has a reputation as one of the most scenic walking trails in the country. Beginning in Lowtown, County Kildare, the full trail stretches on for 114km, also covering parts of Kilkenny, Laois and Carlow on route.
The Kildare leg of the journey passes through historical towns and villages such as Robertstown, Rathangan, Monasterevin and Athy, and offers spectacular views of the Hill of Allen and the Wicklow Mountains. With many historical and architectural points of interest also on show throughout the route, the trail offers a unique insight into Ireland’s fascinating past.
For all the family: Pollardstown Fen Nature Reserve
We couldn’t mention beautiful scenic trails in Kildare without gushing about Reserva Natural Pollardstown Fen. Located 3km from Newbridge, it is a designated area of conservation based on 220 hectares of alkaline peatland. A rarity in both Ireland and Western Europe, it features unique and diverse flora and fauna, which visitors can learn about during the experience.
A tranquil setting overlooked by the Hill of Allen in the distance, there are a range of routes that can be enjoyed throughout the fen, with an interesting looped walk located along the raised boardwalk.
While dogs are welcome, they must be kept on a lead at all times and dog-waste bags should be taken away with you as they cannot be disposed of on site. Children must also be supervised throughout the visit, especially when on the boardwalk.
For making a day of it: The Curragh Plains
Stretching across 5,000 acres from Kildare Town to Newbridge, The Curragh Plains is the largest unenclosed lowland grasslands areas in Ireland, and one that is steeped in history.
As it is an open plain, you can walk in almost any direction. Those making an early start will have the pleasure of seeing some of Ireland’s top thoroughbred horses riding out on the gallops, while evening walkers will be privy to the most magical sunsets in Kildare.
The Curragh is a rare gem in terms of its natural and cultural significance, with visitors spoilt for choice when it comes to the landscape and range of activities on offer. The famous Kildare landmark also houses the Curragh Racecourse, Military Museum, Karibu Pet Farm and Ireland’s oldest golf club, the Royal Curragh Golf Club.
For getting lost in it all: The Kildare Maze
For unmissable family fun with the added bonus of spectacular views, The Kildare Maze is a must for any Sunday family adventure this summer. With over 2km of paths lined with 1.5 acres of hedging, visitors are challenged to find their way to the viewing tower at the centre of this extensive maze.
Panoramic views of the Kildare countryside can be enjoyed from the viewing tower, which also offers an overhead glimpse of the maze outline. St Brigid, the patron saint of Kildare, was the inspiration for the design, which incorporates the St Brigid’s cross located across the four quadrants of the maze.
With a wooden maze, zip wire, crazy golf and assault course also on offer, The Kildare Maze will take your summer walk to the next level!
For nature and animal lovers: Liffey Walk – Clane and River Liffey Circular
Ideal for bird and wildlife watching, the Clane and River Liffey Circular is an enthralling experience for those looking to connect with nature. The looped walking trail covers over 6km and features many interesting characters on route, including mink, kingfishers, otters and much more.
In spite of its location next to the busy town of Clane, the walkway offers a serene escape for those looking for some peace and quiet. Those wishing to bring their pooch along for the adventure should note that dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
For castle spotting with the family: Mullaghreelan Wood
A magical location for your summer hike, Mullaghreelan Wood, near Kilkea in County Kildare, is hard to beat. The 2.3km loop trail is set in a picturesque location surrounding a hilltop, which overlooks the beautiful Kilkea Castle. History lovers will revel in the many stories involving this ancient monument, while those looking for their nature fix will find it in the plentiful wildflowers dotted throughout the woodland estate.
A family favourite, it’s a perfect summer trail – but it can get a little muddy when the Irish weather misbehaves, so don’t forget the wellies!