Pollardstown Fen Nature Reserve, Co. Kildare
Just a 12-minute drive from Ballintine Park, Allen is the wonderful Pollardstown Fen Nature Reserve. This beautiful fenland is now rare in Ireland and Western Europe, and the Pollardstown Fen is of international importance. It contains unique and diverse flora and fauna, and you’ll find excellent information displayed at the start of the walk. As a treasured Nature Reserve, the fen deserves our care and respect: dogs should remain on a lead at all times (note: there no bins for dog poo bags so be prepared to take it away with you!), and children will need to be supervised, especially on the boardwalk.
There is a looped walk on the raised boardwalk, and other longer walks throughout the fen which makes up about 220 hectares. You can expect a tranquil walk with beautiful views of the countryside all around – even our Hill of Allen is visible from a distance!
Pollardstown Fen is part of The Curragh plains area, and is the source (via the Milltown Feeder) of much of the Grand Canal’s water supply – and you can’t miss a walk along the Grand Canal – see below!
Killinthomas Woods, Co. Kildare
Just a mile from Rathangan Village (17 minutes from Allen) is the beautiful area of Killinthomas Wood developed by Coíllte on about 200 acres. It is a mixed hardwood conifer forest with very diverse flora and fauna and has won a national award for wildlife conservation.
There’s around 10 km of signposted walking trails of various lengths. Picnic tables are peppered throughout the woods, so it’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch for the whole family. Dogs are allowed too, but as an area packed with wildlife and fragile ecosystems cleaning up after your furry friend is a must.
The woods are particularly spectacular during springtime and early summer when you’ll be treated to a stunning floral display of bluebells and white garlic. To be fair, you’re in for a treat any time of year in this place of pure natural beauty.
Donadea Forest Park, Co. Kildare
Donadea Forest Park, including Donadea Castle, which was occupied 1550 to 1935, is a National Heritage Area. The park is managed by Coíllte covers over 640 acres of mature native Irish woodland. There are signposted routes throughout the Forest Park, and it’s possible to go off-track as well and do a little exploring! It’s a popular place to bring the whole family (including the dog!) with open meadows areas and a beautiful lake with plenty of ducks and other birdlife.
The car park charges €5 per car, and from here you stroll past the remains of the Donadea Castle toward the cafe (open year-round) where you can treat yourself to tea and coffee and homemade treats! There are plenty of picnic tables too if you want to bring your own lunch. From here, a short walk brings you to the charming lake, filled with ducks, waterhens and water lilies. From here you can circumnavigate the lake in just under a kilometre. For something a little more strenuous take the Aylmer Loop – about 6km, easily done in under 2 hours.
Donadea Forest Park is about 21 minutes drive from Allen.
Donedea Forest Park
Grand Canal Way, Sallins, Co. Kildare
The Grand Canal Way stretches from Lucan Bridge in Country Dublin all the way through County Kildare and finishes in Shannon Harbour – a total of around 124km. There are plenty of places to hop on and off again along the way with most paths suitable for either cycling or walking.
The Leisurely Gourmet Option
We’d suggest taking a drive to Sallins, parking along the canal and going for a leisurely walk from there… that way you can turn back at any time and go for some lunch in any of the great eateries around Canal at Sallins. We could recommend Lock 13 Gastro Pub and Brew House for lunch and sampling of some locally brewed beers from the Kildare Brewing Company on site. Or perhaps if you do a late afternoon stroll, you could finish with dinner in the renowned 2 Cooks restaurant for dinner.
There are numerous longer walking routes along the Grand Canal. For instance, you could get someone to drop you off at Sallins and pick you up after you’ve walked the 11km to Robertstown along the towpath. Or for something longer and quite historically interesting you could follow Arthur (Guinness)‘s Way which includes the Grand Canal Way along its 16km route starting at Leixlip. The following links have detailed maps and information:
Grand Canal Way, Sallins
The Curragh Plains, Co, Kildare
About 18 minutes drive from Allen village is The Curragh. World-famous for horse racing, the surrounding plains are steeped in Irish mythology – notably the legendary Fionn MacCumhaill and his warriors are said to have raced their horses here. Covering nearly 5000 acres of unique grasslands, the Curragh is probably the oldest and most extensive tract of semi-natural grassland in Europe. The area boasts an exceptional diversity of flora and fauna.
It also happens to be a great place to go for a long walk! If you go early in the morning, you might be lucky enough to see the equine beauties from The Curragh Racecourse getting their morning exercise. You often see people walking their dogs along the Curragh plains; however, sheep roam free in the area so we’d imagine a lead is imperative!
Get a little education
If you’re interested in going a little more in-depth more check out this wonderful audio guided walking tour from Kildare County Council – The Story of the Curragh. It’s recommended for adults and children alike and takes about an hour.
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