The autumn evenings may be starting to close in, so there’s no better time to get your walking boots on for the 25th Ballyhoura Walking Festival, taking place from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th October in Kilfinane, Co Limerick.
Established as Ireland’s first-ever walking festival, it provides an opportunity to explore some of Ballyhoura Country’s stunning scenery. Many of the walks are led by members of the Ballyhoura Bears Walking Club–who have in-depth knowledge of the area and its heritage, history, flora and fauna–and are suitable for all abilities, from the well-equipped walker who relishes the challenge of the A & B level walks to the gentle ramblers who are out to enjoy pleasant C walks.
Walk at your Level
Amongst the walking programme’s highlights are the ever-popular Darragh Hill Moon Light Walk (C Walk) on Friday evening, Saturday’s breath-taking Sunrise Walk to Seefin (the highest point of Ballyhoura Mountains) led by Britton Outdoors, as well as the Walking Half Marathon (A Walk), where each participant will be awarded with a certificate. The Slievereagh Loop Walk (B Walk) takes in part of the Ballyhoura Way and traverses streams, woodlands, forest roads and tracks, scaling its highest point of the pinnacle Slievereagh at 465m. The easy Canon Sheehan Loop Walk (C Walk) follows glorious forest tracks, woodland paths and riverbank through Glenanaar Forest and along the banks of the Ogeen River.
There are lots for families to enjoy too at the festival. Ballyhoura Nature Trail Family Scavenger Hunt is a fun 40-minute, 2km investigation of over 20 hidden creatures in the woods that children have to uncover on their walk. Meanwhile, the Forest Welly Waddlers session led by Ballyhoura Beo will guarantee lots of morning fun for the 2 to 5 year-olds and their parents, with a natural play session in the Ballyhoura Woodlands. Irish Family Search are hosting the Mitchelstown Heritage Walk, which includes displays of the local native games of skittles and road bowling, and also takes in the Silk Farm, 1887 Land War Protest, Pagan Well, The Co-Op Story, local GAA lore and the 7th Century Abbey.
Sunday offers a relaxing Festival Yoga Walk by Yoga Walks Ireland. However, if your walking boots are still on a quest of discovery, you’ll have several opportunities on Sunday to satisfy them. Discover the local history, heritage, folklore and archaeology at Lough Gur (free admission to the Visitor Centre), learn about the history of people, castle and the medieval town of Kilmallock, or join a guided tour of Doneraile Park and Gardens.
Registration, which is also where you’ll get your must-have merchandise, festival brochure, packed food etc, takes place as follows at the Old Chapel Room, Captain’s Lane in Kilfinane: – Friday from 6pm for the Darragh Hill Moon Light Walk and the Sunrise Walk to Seefin – Saturday from 9am for the rest of the walks – Further information available from: Ballyhoura Centre, Kilfinane / 063-91300 / [email protected] – tballyhoura.com/events/ballyhoura-walking-festival-2021