7 eco day trips for the kids to enjoy

With our trees and plants bursting out all over why not bring your children on a trip to explore the best of what Ireland's nature has to offer?
7 eco day trips for the kids to enjoy

Time spent in nature with your kids is a real investment in sustainability

Bring your children out in nature and you’ll not just expand their horizons – you’ll help them connect with the natural world around them, making it much more likely they’ll want to care for and protect it.

Time spent in nature with your kids is a real investment in sustainability, and with longer, brighter days now here – and holiday season on the horizon – why not bring your brood on some eco day trips.

Elaine Butler of sustainable living blog Living Lightly in Ireland has these suggestions:

Go to a wild-bird nature reserve

Birdwatch Ireland manages 16 wild-bird nature reserves throughout Ireland. They feature a variety of habitats, from rocky islands to saltmarshes and lakes, through to woods and semi-improved grasslands. Examples are Cuskinny Marsh, Co Cork and Puffin Island, Co Kerry. Wonderful for getting close to nature – you’ll see flowers, butterflies and other wildlife too. See birdwatchireland.ie.

Bull Island wildlife reserve near Clontarf in Dublin Bay is well known for wild bird sightings. Another wildlife sanctuary is Booterstown Marsh Reserve, an essential resting spot for migrating birds.

Take a trip to the playground

Fancy a day of child’s play? Check out this list of playgrounds. They include Tipperary’s Templemore Playground, located in the 90-acre Templemore Town Park (with a manmade lake, woodland walkway and magical fairy trail) and the playground at Doneraile Wildlife Park, Co Cork.

See the donkeys

The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan
The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

With a recent headline announcing ‘New life for goat and donkey abandoned in the rain’, the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co Cork, is all about sustainability. View the donkeys, historical sites and surrounding countryside from the Sanctuary Walkway. See thedonkeysanctuary.ie.

Swim in Lough Hyne

Lough Hyne, Co Cork, Ireland’s only marine nature reserve, has 72 kinds of fish. Popular for swimming, kayaking and diving, the lanes beside the lough and the trails up Knockomagh are favourites for walking. See baltimore.ie.

Visit a National Park

Connemara’s 2,000-hectare National Park is a conservation centre incorporating mountains, bogs and grasslands. Four of the mountains belong to the Twelve Bens range. Climb Diamond Hill mountain trail and be rewarded with spectacular views – recommended “for all walkers from active children as young as eight years old”. Traces of ancient settlements are visible in the park, including 4,000-year-old megalithic tombs; also picnic facilities and nature trails. See galwaytourism.ie

An eagle chick in Glenveagh National Park
An eagle chick in Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park, Co Donegal has rugged mountains, lakes, waterfalls and native oak woodland in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. On the edge of Lough Veagh is the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle – its gardens are open year round with free admission. There are tea rooms too. Visit glenveaghnationalpark.ie.

Visit a lavender farm

Wexford Lavender Farm in the North Wexford countryside has four acres of lavender, café located in converted stables, gift shop, children’s playground, quad barrel train ride, distillery equipment, and woodland walks. Visit wexfordlavenderfarm.com.

Explore Coillte's offering - from orienteering to cycling

Ireland’s largest provider of outdoor recreation, has 260 recreation sites, 12 forest parks, six mountain bike centres and more than 3,000km of marked walking trails. See coillte.ie.

Why not go orienteering with Coillte's 13 permanent orienteering courses around Ireland? Designed to suit all levels from short beginner loops to longer more difficult ones. Find the routes here

Whether you want a gentle forest ramble or a challenging mountain hike, Coillte has 3,000km of walking trails. 

Or how about a leisurely spin with the kids? An adrenaline-pumping challenge in the hills? Coillte’s 300km-long, off-road cycle trail network will have something that suits all.

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