The Slieve Bloom Way

Linking Counties Laois and Offaly, the lush and gentle Slieve Bloom mountain range is great hillwalking territory—its tallest peak is just 527m (1,729 ft.), which clocks in at about the same as the 44th tallest in the Wicklow Mountains. The Slieve Blooms also have the great advantage of being decidedly under-visited, so peace and solitude are easy to come by.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve—Ireland’s largest state-owned nature reserve—has several looped hiking trails, including several around Lough (lake) Boora; one of them has its own sculpture trail. Another takes you through the tiny but charming village of Clonaslee, and up to the Rickets Rock waterfall. Or, for a touch of scenic wilderness, walk a portion of the Slieve Bloom Way, a circular 34km (21-mile) signposted trail that begins and ends in Glenbarrow, County Laois; see for details. Several trained guides live locally and will offer their services if you’d prefer to be taken around by an expert; a full list with contact details is available at (click “Walking” then “Walking Guides”).

The terrain also lends itself particularly well to horseback riding; the Birr Equestrian Centre, Kingsborough House, Birr, County Offaly (; 087/244-5545) organizes regular treks and special trips.

Several castles lie within the boundaries of the Slieves, including Charleville ★★ and Portumna ★★.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.