Explore the Slieve Bloom Mountains
Things to do around Roundwood
Nature is the star of the show, and we don’t give her nearly enough credit. Roundwood lives at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains and from here there is easy access by car, bike or foot to her many beautiful natural features. The Slieve Bloom is the oldest mountain range in Europe, and the view from the summit of Arderin (her highest peak) is the most all encompassing in Ireland. In the words of T.L. Cooke, the view on a clear day is, “bounded almost solely by the powers of vision”. Woodland trails, deep glens, rivers, waterfalls, remote bogland and picnic areas invite adventurous visitors to explore and experience the unspoilt beauty of this inspirational landscape.
The Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve is, at over 2,300 hectares, Ireland’s largest state-owned Nature Reserve. It was established in 1985, so that it could be managed in such a way as to ensure the conservation of the mountain blanket bog ecosystem. In addition, the Nature Reserve is designated a Ramsar Wetland Site and a Council of Europe Biogenetic Reserve. Much of the greater upland area has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The primary interest of the SAC is mountain blanket bog. The Slieve Bloom Mountains are also designated a Special Protection Area (SPA), of special conservation interest for the hen harrier, a rare bird of prey.
There are countless walking trails for all levels of trekkers. From the imposing 70 km Slieve Bloom Way for the serious hiker, to the 20 minute loop at Glen Monicknew, the variety of walks leaves little room for excuses. There are walking festivals on the May Bank Holiday weekend and in July. Visit www.slievebloom.ie for more information. However at any time of year, guides can be arranged to take you off the beaten track to get lost in the beautiful heart of Ireland. (Well, not literally lost, as they wouldn’t be much of a guide if they did…but ‘lost’ in the surrender-to-the-experience kind of way.)
On yer Bike
The quiet roads and forested trails of the Slieve Blooms are ideal for leisurely and safe cycling either on or off the surfaced road. For the serious road cyclist the Slieve Bloom Long Loop Cycle is ideal, distancing 97km with a total climb of 1159 metres over three mountain passes. For those looking for something a little less strenuous, the Slieve Bloom Short Loop Cycle is 59km with a climb of 548 metres. Bikes will be sheltered safely away from the elements in the old stable block. If you don’t have a bike, we can arrange one for you.
There are a number of equestrian centres in the area offering a variety of experiences. We recommend The Half Day Slieve Bloom Mountain Trek offered by Birr Equestrian Centre. We are more than happy to book an appointment for you or you can contact Noel directly on +353 (0) 87 2445545
Other activities also provided by Birr Equestrian Centre include Archery, Carriage Driving, Laser Shooting, Clay Pigeon and Air Rifle Shooting. All, with the exception of Carriage Driving, can be done at site here at Roundwood.
There are many mountain rivers and lakes which are excellent for fishing. The large sister rivers, the Nore and the Barrow, which rise in the Slieve Bloom mountains, have trout and salmon, while many of their tributaries (e.g., the Whitehorse, Delour and Camcor) offer very good trout fishing. Meanwhile, there is an excellent angling centre in Coolrain, just five kilometres from Roundwood called Laois Angling Centre.
We don’t get out of the kitchen enough to do much golfing, but for the avid golfer, Roundwood is within a 20 minute drive of no less than 5 golf courses. And since we are probably busy cooking, you can borrow our clubs.
A Whole Lot of Nothing
In saying all that I have above, I feel it is worth mentioning another very popular pastime; doing absolutely nothing. This can be slightly embellished with a book, a board game, staring into the fire or talking about going for a walk but in fact ordering a glass of wine.