Hidden Heartlands is yours to uncover as summer season comes to a close

Christian Doyle and JJ Doyle are pictured on The Old Rail Trail linked to The Royal Canal Greenway in County Westmeath.  The Royal Canal Greenway and Old Rail Trail in County Westmeath offer breathtakingly scenic cycle routes that run alongside the Royal Canal and an old railway line through the Hidden Heartlands.  Visitors can now cycle from the heart of Athlone town with its award-winning restaurants and cultural attractions, to Mullingar and on to Maynooth or Longford, without ever leaving these safe, off-road scenic routes. Photo by: Paul Moore Photography

Christian Doyle and JJ Doyle are pictured on The Old Rail Trail linked to The Royal Canal Greenway in County Westmeath. The Royal Canal Greenway and Old Rail Trail in County Westmeath offer breathtakingly scenic cycle routes that run alongside the Royal Canal and an old railway line through the Hidden Heartlands. Visitors can now cycle from the heart of Athlone town with its award-winning restaurants and cultural attractions, to Mullingar and on to Maynooth or Longford, without ever leaving these safe, off-road scenic routes. Photo by: Paul Moore Photography

The Hidden Heartlands, in which Athlone is a focal tourist destination, has much to offer, and as summer season draws to a close, ensure you take time out to visit the numerous amenities which are certain to enthral all members of the family.

The Old Rail Trail Greenway and the Royal Canal Greenway offer a fantastic cycling and walking experience. Cycle from the heart of Athlone town with its award-winning restaurants and cultural attractions to Mullingar to soak up the breathtaking lakeshore scenery and continue to Maynooth or Longford, without ever leaving these safe, off-road routes and discover many treasures and family fun activities along the way.

Athlone Castle Visitor Centre | athlonecastle.ie Trace the footprints of the generations who shaped this place. From early settlements and warring chieftains to foreign invaders and local heroes. This castle stands proudly on the River Shannon banks in the heart of the town and the centre of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, with breathtaking views from its keep.

Belvedere House, Garden & Park | belvedere-house.ie Enjoy 10km of serene lakeshore and woodland walks, explore the beautiful Victorian walled garden and find out more about the fascinating history of Belvedere estate. Enjoy the lakeside café and play areas for children including one of the most magical fairy gardens in Ireland.

Hill of Uisneach | uisneach.ie Walk in the footsteps of High Kings, Gods & Goddesses across the ancient landscape that is the Hill of Uisneach.

Tullynally Castle & Gardens | tullynallycastle.ie Although this is still lived in as a family home by the Pakenhams, you can enjoy a special guided tour of the historic Great Hall, Dining room, Drawing Room and Library as well as the Victorian Servants’ Quarters. Hear the stories and scandals of the family’s 370 years at Tullynally, and tales of life below stairs

Kilbeggan Whiskey Distillery |kilbegganwhiskey.com

A guided wander through the old distillery and finish with mastering the art of making an Irish Coffee in our newly renovated Locke’s Lounge or have a Distillery Experience with whiskey tasting.

Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park | dunnasi.ie A popular option as it includes a pet farm, parklands, trails, heritage tours and outdoor art displays. Located on Old Rail Trail Greenway at Moate, this park also includes outdoor art displays, a sensory garden and a great children’s playground overlooked by a locally run café . Enjoy a walk through planted parklands and observe the many species of wild birds on the disappearing lake or ‘turlough’ without disturbing their habitat at the specially constructed bird hide.

Hidden Heartlands Boat Tours and Water Taxi | hiddenheartlandstours.ie Explore the mighty River Shannon and the scenic Lough Ree with a boat tour to remember. Qualified National Tour Guide Pearse Connell offers an on-water taxi and guided tours by boat from Athlone. The River Shannon Viking Boat Tour from Athlone is also a signature experience of the midlands region and a ‘must do’ on your visit. vikingtoursireland.ie Andean Alpaca trekking | andeanalpacas.ie: Visitors of all ages enjoy meeting, feeding and walking with the curious and friendly Alpacas, especially the cute Cria (babies ). Make friends with these beautiful creatures and learn all about them as you take a trek together‘Meet and Greet’ options are available for younger children unable to participate in the full trek.

Take a spin The Royal Canal Greenway | VisitWestmeath.ie/get-outdoors: This 130km cycling and walking trail meanders along the banks of the picturesque 225-year-old canal through Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford. The greenway features no less than 90 stone-arched bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours, four aqueducts and a number of pretty lock-keepers cottages. Not only Ireland’s longest greenway, it’s also known for its scenic beauty, rich heritage and abundance of wildlife. The 165km self-guided National Famine Way shares the route, following the footsteps of 1,490 emigrants who walked from Roscommon to Dublin at the peak of the famine in 1847.

Experience the Old Rail Trail | VisitWestmeath.ie/get-outdoors: 43kms in total, the Old Rail Trail greenway traces the historic Midlands Great Western Railway track, past restored station houses and under pretty stone arched bridges. From the Royal Canal in Mullingar to the River Shannon in Athlone, and over the new Greenway Bridge to Athlone Castle, it passes through areas of unique biodiversity and heritage. For rest and refreshments, there are great options in the bustling towns of Athlone, Moate and Mullingar, along withthe new Station House restored into Jack’s Stop café in Streamstown. Bike hire is available at Athlone and Mullingar and options for electric bikes, tandem and child friendly trailers are available. The Old Rail Trail is a must-visit for history buffs, as it features a plethora of information about the old railroad and its history. Entirely off-road and mostly flat, this greenway is very safe for families and perfect for a leisurely cycle or stroll.

 

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