The launch of 2019 Laois Walking Festival at Laois County Council offices in Portlaoise. Photo Kevin Byrne
The 2019 Laois Walks Festival runs from July 1 to 31 and showcases the best walks the county has to offer.
The festival in its 18th year has helped build Laois as a popular walking destination for visitors, easily accessed with quiet unspoilt countryside to discover.
The itinerary (below) offer 27 guided walks of varying difficulty through woodland, meadows, lakesides, country laneways and gentle mountain hikes.
It kicks off on Monday July 1 with a 2 hour 8km walk around the picturesque Abbeyleix Killamuck Bog, setting off from Manor Hotel.
There is almost a walk every day in the month, with favourites like Dunmore wood in Durrow, Emo Court Demesne, the Rock of Dunamaise, and Grand Canal walk in Fisherstown. There are gentle family walks in Ballacolla, Heywood and Mountmellick.
For people who want a challenge, they can take on some Grade A 12km walks in Fossey Mountain, Portarlington Bog Walk or the Ridge of Capard in the Slieve Bloom mountains.
With a total of total of 249 kms covered, it is ideal for those who are interested in training to complete a pilgrim passport or a Camino challenge.
All the walks are led by expert local guides full of information.
It was launched this week by Laois Walks Festival Co-Ordinator Susan Lawlor.
“Our packed programme has walks for all abilities, from the enthusiastic well-equipped walker who relishes the challenge on the Slieve Bloom Mountains to the gentle rambler who is out to enjoy a pleasant guided walk. So, whatever type of a walker you are, come to Laois this July where you are assured of a wonderful warm welcome at our festival,” Ms Lawlor said.
“This festival could not happen without the goodwill and support of several private and state landowners, including Coillte, National Parks and Wildlife Services, Office of Public Works, and Inland Waterways, who provide access to the walkways,” she said.
She also acknowledged the support from Laois Partnership Company, Laois Sports Partnership and Laois County Council in organising the festival.
Laois Partnership CEO Anne Goodwin commended all the local communities for their continued commitment to promoting walking in Laois.
“Each walk is maintained by the local community all year round. During the festival, members of the local community provide the stewards and the light refreshments,” she said.
She has supported the festival from the start.
“After attending the Laois Walks festival for the last seventeen years, I can confirm that it is the camaraderie between the walkers and the local communities that has led to its success”, the Laois Partnerships chief said.
Walks cost €3 each or €30 for festival tickets. Registration takes place half an hour prior to each walk.