On the trek to the Rock of Dunamaise
Laois boasts some of the most unspoilt countryside in the country. While the term hidden gem may seem cliched, this is truly the case, which a visit to the county will all too readily reveal.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Laois offers a wide variety of activities, whether its walking, hiking, cycling and mountain biking.
For walkers and hikers, the range of terrains to choose from is virtually unlimited. The Slieve Blooms mountains form the centerpiece of much of this, but they are supplanted by a wide array of choice throughout the county.
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If it’s the Slieve Blooms you are heading for, then its rich vein of landscapes, comprising blanket bogs, forestry paths, wooded valleys, mountains streams and waterfalls, are all there to be plundered. There are 16 looped walks to choose from, with six different trail heads.
The walks are all mapped out with easy to follow directions. Why not try out the Capard or Brittas loops. Perhaps the Eco Walk at Glenbarrow which consists of ten stops, which are number sequenced and offer people information about the environment they are treading in.
The Slieve Bloom mountains are also home to one of the most exciting and unique tourism projects currently underway in the country, with the construction of the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bikes Trail by Coillte, in association with Laois and Offaly County Councils.
The project ultimately will feature over 100 kms of trails. Already a small section has been opened on the Offaly side and a further section is due to be opened later this spring. However, the Slieve Blooms don’t hold the franchise when it comes to outdoor activities.
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Try out the raised boardwalk walk in Abbeyleix bog or take a trip down the road to the Durrow loops or the Oakvale walks in Stradbally.
Those who like history can avail of the free Laois Heritage Trails smartphone app which features photos, maps and multilingual audioguides to the Laois Heritage Trail and the Laois Monastic Trail. The app was introduced by Laois County Council as part of Ireland's Ancient East programme.
The spring is a time for getting out and rediscovering the joys of nature and Laois is the perfect location for doing this. The county also has a huge range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, from world-class hotels to numerous B &Bs.