Walking Tracks of Ireland’s Mid West

When you think of visiting Ireland, going for walks might not be at the top of your list. But there are many beautiful and scenic walks in Ireland that allow you to truly appreciate the landscape.

Here are some of my favorite walking tracks in Ireland’s Mid West.

See also: Things to do with Kids in Ireland in the West

The best walks in Ireland’s Mid West

With its beautiful landscapes, taking walks in Ireland is enjoyable and as fun way a way to spend a day as you can get. Since moving to Ireland, we have tried to dig out a few of the best walks in our local area in the mid to west of the country and especially the Roscommon area.

Below are some of the best walking tracks from these areas that are certainly worth getting stuck into.

Suck Valley Way

Situated and running through the whole of County Roscommon lies the Suck Valley way, a walk that goes for a mammoth 105 km loop and also joins and forms part of the famous Breifne Beara Way.

The walk takes in all sorts of changing terrains, through rugged woodlands, riverbanks and wild large farmland.

Along the way there is so much to see, a favourite spot of ours is winding through the Demense at Castlerea which runs along the river bank through woodlands, and then leading out to the dense forest which brings you to the grounds of the amazing Clonalis House.

Walks in Ireland past Clonalis House
Clonalis House

Miners Way Walk

The Miners Way walk has its own history as it is part of the once operational coal mine of Arigna. The walk is a network of walking paths which meander through the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon & Sligo. The route follows many of the paths that would have been used by the Miners going to work in the Arigna Coal Mines back many years ago.

The walk in total is 118 km of pathways, with a rating of easy to moderate with well maintained tracks.

Mote Park

Mote Park, situated 5 minute drive outside the town of Roscommon. A stunning spot for the family to come with many a walking track, forest, fairy garden track and the perfect picnic spot. It offers easy walking conditions as its all pathed.

All in all the walking tracks loop makes up an 11km track, all very similar terrain with good and easy walking conditions.

The fairy garden is great for the kids, with a wide selection of little houses and hanging surprises, enough to keep them entertained for the whole walk.

In late summer, the bluebell walkway is so beautiful with the blossoming bluebells giving off such a vibrant colour.

Mote Park, Ireland
Avenue of trees in Mote Park in Autumn, with fallen leaves on ground – depositphotos.com

The Famine Walk

The famine way walk, starting at Strokestown House and continuing a mammoth 165 km to the Dublin Quay.

The walk is a tribute to those 1490 men, women and children who made the walk during the Irish famine in 1847, walking all that way with the target of reaching Liverpool in England with a final destination of New York the main aim.

The walk is mainly flat and well pathed and is best taken in sections due to the length of it. The first stage keeps you in the county of Roscommon Strokestown to Tarmonbarry.

Pro Tip: stop off here for some lunch at the Purple Onion, highly recommended.

Be prepared when going for walks in Ireland

The weather in the west of Ireland is fairly unforgiving, so being prepared is key. Waterproofs and good footwear is important as Ireland can often see four seasons in one day. Also planning ahead for weather is very important as low lying fog is often common, especially in higher areas and the chances of getting disorientated is very possible.

With some of the longer walks, bring foods and liquids. Remember that you’re out in the countryside and there can be stretches of just seeing land and more land, so being ready when you need an energy boost is important.

For more things to do in Ireland, check out these posts:


Things to do with Kids in Ireland in the West

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Ireland make sure to head out west!

Ireland’s west is known for its stunning countryside, farmland and rugged landscapes.

A kids life is complete with all this space to get out and play and one thing that the west does well is outdoor activities for kids. From adventure centers, to open farms or even featured kids walks it leaves no stone unturned.

With two kids ourselves, we have been out and tried and tested a few of these spots time and time again and here are our top five things to do with kids in Ireland in the west.

Here are a few things to do with kids in Ireland in the west

1. Lough Key Forest Park

Situated in County Roscommon lies Lough Key Forest Park, a 800 hectare forest park based around the beautiful Lough. This is where you can see the impressive McDermots castle out on a island in the lough.

Along with access to the park, which is free to roam, the ‘Lough Key Experience’ is available with an audio journey through the history of the park. It even uses the 19th century underground tunnels, a newly refurbished Moylurg viewing tower the Zipit tree climb and Tree Canopy Walk. The tree walk at 300m long is an impressive timber and steel construction, rising 9m above the ground offering a ‘birds eye’ view of nature through the treetops and offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. The Zipit is an adventure climb and activity course through the trees, using harnesses to navigate your way round.

A huge children’s play area with slides and things like climbing frames and many other obstacles are also available.

Down on the Lough, you will find ducks and swans to feed and great views out to McDermots castle. Its at this point where you can take the kids and hire row boats around the lough and get up close to castle itself. The castle is in ruins but is worth seeing.

Food and drink are available on site from food truck vendors with seating provided with kids food catered for. Also, a great selection of allergy-friendly food is available which is great in this world of ever growing food intolerances.

2. Glendeer Pet Farm

Situated in county Galway just five minutes outside Atlone is Glendeer Petting Farm.

On entrance to the farm, kids get a free bag of feed to give the animals (beware the ostrich darts in). They all have ample space to move around and are certainly well looked after and very happy.

The selection of animals available to view at Glendeer include donkeys, cows, ostrich, hens, goats, monkeys, turtles, lizards and pigs. Feed them, pet them or just enjoy them, the choice is yours. The farm moves in one direction and continues round making it easy to navigate.

Other activities for kids include an indoor play area with slides, a huge outdoor playground with numerus amount of equipment and finally a lovely nature walk and fairy garden.

The Glendeer Pet Farm also features a beautifully restored 1850s cottage. With original features all in place from the kitchen to the bedrooms see it just as it once was.

Don’t worry about having to feed the kids as there is an on-site café serving sandwiches and snacks. With that said you are allowed to bring your own.

Things to do with kids in Ireland
Things to do with kids in Ireland – depositphotos.com

3. Bunratty Castle And Folk Park

Just north of Limerick city lies the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. With 26 acres of exploring to do, you’ll never get bored.

Bunratty Folk Park features an amazing 30 buildings in a village based on the early 19th century living within this rural setting.

Throughout the Folk Park you will find some of these activities to enjoy:

  • Petting farm which consists of many animals like red deer, indigenous breeds of sheep, goats, cows, pigs, ponies, and poultry.
  • Fairy trail leading round the back of the folk park and back around. Great for kids imagination and interaction.
  • Viking playground which consists of A Viking Playship, four tower play castles, rope walks, belt bridges, vast variety of swings suitable for all ages (even dad), a sandpit and a 25m zipline.

And finally, a visit to Bunratty wouldn’t be complete without a walk around the two story castle.

The kids will likely be hungry after this adventure. Our number one tip would be to take them to Durty Nellys, a restaurant set on the rivers edge just 200 meters from the castle. With a great kids menu to choose from, it will be enough to fuel them up for an afternoon of action.

4. Baysports Inflatable Water Park

Located moments outside Athlone by the Hudson Bay hotel and run by Baysports.

The water which is an outside floatable water park is Ireland’s Largest Inflatable Waterpark and has the largest collection of floating slides, rockers and challenges – entertaining people of all ages and abilities.

The round tower slide coming in at a whopping 6 meters is probably the largest draw, landing you straight into the river.

The park sounds adventurous but don’t fear, a mini water park closer to the shore is available for younger children, where childen must be accompanied by an adult.

Hudson Bay is located right besides Baysports, offering kids menus and bistro food available. Small scale snacks are also availble from the site itself.

Baysports water park for kids in Ireland
Baysports water park for kids in Ireland

5. Westport House and Pirate Adventure Park

Located on the outskirts of Westport is Westport House and Pirate Adventure Park. The park was the winner of Best Family Visitor Attraction in Ireland and is one of the best and most adventurous days out in the west.

  • Rides at the adventure park include the Cannonball Run slide, Pirate Queen Swinging Ship and Pirates Plunge Flume Ride
  • Experience some great outdoors in this beautiful parkland and lakeside setting
  • Swan Pedalo Boats on the lake
  • Westport House Express train ride the miniature railway
  • Table-tennis
  • Mini ZipLine

It’s also worth noting with its close proximity to Westport House, the grounds are great to walk and let the kids run around.

Food is available from the on site catering facilities with great range of products to choose from.

There are plenty more fun indoor and outdoor things to do with kids in Ireland out in the west! Just don’t let the weather stop you from exploring.

Looking for more things to do in Ireland? Check out these posts:


The Best Beaches in Key West

You’re all set with your beach towel and sunscreen, ready to hit up some of the best beaches in Key West.

But, which Key West beach are you going to pick to kick back and relax?

For such a small island, there are several to choose from.

Are you looking for a family-friendly beach for the kids to run free on, do you want a super beachy vibe with nearby bars and restaurants, or are you looking for somewhere more remote and quiet? Lucky for you, there are plenty of options to consider.

So, let’s jump right in with a list of the best Key West beaches to visit this summer.

The Best Beaches in Key West
The Best Beaches in Key West

Related Post: How to Get to Key West

Here’s a list of the best beaches in Key West

Smathers Beach

This two mile stretch of white tropical sand is the largest public beach in Key West. Offering wide views of the Atlantic Ocean, this is a beach you could spend the whole day enjoying and if the sand between your toes feels like it did on your last trip to the Bahamas; you’re right! 

As with all the sand on our beaches in Key West, it was imported, this one from the Bahamas. Smathers offers volleyball, snorkeling, and other water sports right from the beach.  

There are picnic areas to enjoy a snack from the local beach vendors. Public restrooms can also be found nearby. Several moderately priced hotels can be found all along this beach, making it a favorite of the Spring Break crowd. As with parking anywhere in Key West, be prepared to pay a meter.

Higgs Beach

This beach is located ½ mile further south of Smathers on Atlantic Blvd. near White St. This little beach with its shallow water and beach side playground has much to offer families with small children. Along with swimming and water sports, you can find a pier, restaurant, volleyball, tennis, and handball courts nearby. Dogs are welcome at the dog park across the street. There is even a civil war era fort and garden to enjoy with your children. A limited amount of free parking is available for this beach.

Dog Beach

Located on the southern end of Vernon & Waddel Streets this is the only beach in the Keys were dogs, as well as other pets, can go to freely swim and play. 

It is a favorite of families with pets but don’t plan on having the kids build sand castles or laying out on your towel to catch some rays while Fido is frolicking with Fifi; it is a dog’s beach!  It is not cleaned by the city; just by responsible pet owners. 

This parcel of land is squeezed between Louie’s Backyard and The Reach Resort.  To make sure I don’t steer you wrong I called our friends at Louie’s Backyard and confirmed your pooch is still welcome at the bar during lunch hour so you can grab a delicious bite to eat while your dog catches the waves.

As a side note: if you want to go to Louie’s for dinner and bring the dog, to be on the safe side, you should give the manager a call first to see what the crowd is like.

Rest Beach

Located next to Higgs Beach, Rest Beach is wheelchair accessible and where you will find the White Street Pier.  This is a great place to fish, relax, and enjoy the natural vegetation.

Fort Zachary Taylor

This 54 acre state park is where the Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico and home to probably the all around best beach Key West has to offer. 

If you prefer to sit in the shade; no problem. If you like to roast under the sun; no problem. If you want to swim or snorkel; no problem. If you’d rather sit on a beach chair but forgot to bring one; no problem. If you like to bike or walk along the wooded park; no problem! 

I think you get the idea. 

In addition to all that there is also the Civil War fort, which you can get a guided tour of, and fishing is allowed on the western end.  It is a wonderful place to see the famous sunset views Key West is known for.  Public restrooms, a food and drink kiosk, chair rentals, picnic tables and BBQ grill pits are there too. The beach can be a bit rocky so I advise bringing your flipflops. There is an admission fee. To get to the beach you enter through the Truman Annex at Southard Street.

South Beach

Despite its name the beach is not related to its Miami namesake. This small and open area is a favorite of locals. The beach is nice and sandy and the water is fairly shallow allowing you to walk out quite a way. There is also a concrete pier.  

There are no restrooms or facilities but there is a snack bar and you can easily walk to nearby restaurants. The beach is located at the south end of Duval Street on the Atlantic Ocean.

Broken Glass Beach

At first glance this probably was not the best choice in names for a public beach area in a tourist town, however; there was method to the madness and it has to do with a bit of Key West history, albeit the less exciting side. 

This strip of the Atlantic shoreline is best accessed at low tide and getting to it does require steeping down off a retaining wall. The terrain is somewhat rocky and thus this not my first recommendation for beaches. 

The name Broken Glass Beach stems from when the local garbage dump used to be situated on the site many years ago and it has been obviously well cleaned up since. Well some of the broken glass remained and after years of being pounded by the surf and being rolled back and forth over the rocks, corral and sand, these glass pieces are now nicely rounded and are much sought after by jewelry makers!

Simonton Beach

We love our town and all its charm to bits and I want you to enjoy every part of what I share with you, however; suffice it to say Simonton Beach is not really a place you need to visit. We added it here to cancel any doubt about not having included it, just in case you wonder why when you see it on a map.

Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas

Articles like this wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the most inaccessible national park in America, 70 miles off the shores of Key West, out on Garden Key. 

This group of seven small islands, first discovered by Ponce de Leon, is home to the largest coastal fort; the majestic Fort Jefferson. The only ways to get there are by high speed ferry or seaplane, both of which depart from Key West and since seating is limited on each trip out you are best advised to book in advance

The trip is worth it though. The palm lined beaches are pristine and snorkeling over the living reef is an experience you’ll never forget!

Apart from some of the best beaches in the US, Key West is also known for watersports, lively nightlife, historic sites, and, of course, their Key Lime Pie.


Where to Find the Best Key Lime Pie in Key West

There are many reasons to visit Key West in Florida.

From the bars that open at the crack of dawn to the chance to explore the third largest barrier reef in the world and enjoy the endless summer weather. Most importantly, however, is for the key lime pie in Key West.

There’s a lot of delicious foods to try while traveling in Key West. You can expect a wide array of seafood dishes, from lobster and crab to snapper, hogfish and grouper. But there are a few dishes that many consider the official foods of Key West. Conch fritters and key lime pie are among these.

We’re here, in partnership with Hotels.com, to talk about key lime pie in Key West. Why you need to try and where you can find the best pie in the city.

Firstly, what is key lime pie?

Key lime pie is a simple sweet American dessert made of Key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk with a pie crust. You’ll find it served either with no topping or topped with meringue topping or whipped cream.

Key lime pie in Key West with whipped cream
Traditional key lime pie with whipped cream

The history of key lime pie in Key West

There are a few stories going around about the origins of key lime pie. Some say it originates from New York while others say it was derived from the ‘Magic Lemon Cream Pie’ published on a promotional brochure by Borden, a producer of condensed milk.

The story told in Key West goes all the way back to the 1800s, when Key West sponge fisherman kept limes on board to prevent sickness. The fisherman, called ‘hookers’ by the locals, would whip up a sweet treat mixing the limes with condensed milk and sometimes adding a wild bird egg. They’d pour it over stale Cuban bread and leave it out to set in the sun.

The fisherman’s wives took it a step further and baked it in a pie crust. It was a modest dessert of the working class, up until Sarah Jane Lowe Curry, the daughter-in-law of Florida’s first millionaire started serving it. Known as Aunt Sally, she served it to the children visiting her home and it wasn’t long until it was served in every restaurant in Key West.

Where to find the best key lime pie in Key West

There are countless key lime pie recipes, with more and more variations popping up all the time. While in Key West, you’re likely to find a few different variations along with the more traditional recipe.

Good thing is, you don’t have to choose which is the best, you can try them all!

Here’s a few places where you’ll find the best key lime pie in Key West:

The Stoned Crab

The Stone Crab is known to have some of the best key lime pie in Key West. They have the traditional key lime pie with classic ingredients, graham crackers and fresh whipped cream. But, also a few versions with chocolate and lime glaze.

It’s a casual vibe here, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu also includes a bunch of other Key West favorites including conch fritters, Key West pink shrimp and other seafood dishes.

Address: 3101 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, Florida

Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe

Kermit’s claims to serve the original key lime pie in Key West. It’s been declared the best in the city, even from the Food Network. Their version of the pie also follows the traditional recipe of creamy lemon filling, graham cracker crust and whipped cream on top.

Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe also sells a large variety of other items with a key lime flavor. Including key lime cookies, key lime salsa, key lime chutney, key lime taffy, key lime tea and key lime olive oil.

Not matter what other key lime pies you try while in Key West, make sure to also visit Kermit’s!

Address: 200 Elizabeth St, Key West, Florida

Blue Heaven

If you’re not a purest, then Blue Heaven’s version of key lime pie is just for you. They serve up a piled-high meringue pie which is loved by all meringue lovers! They stick to the buttery graham cracker crust and sweet lime filling.

Blue Heaven is located in the funky, historic district’s Bahama Village. It features a perfect Key West ambiance, with live music and laid-back atmosphere.

Address: 729 Thomas St, Key West, Florida

Traditional key lime pie with meringue
Traditional key lime pie with meringue

Old Town Bakery

From the outside, the Old Town Bakery looks like any old tackle shop that you’d find in Florida. Inside, you’ll find a lovely casual and laid-back vibe, with the traditional glass front pastry display cases featuring an array of delicious desserts. Their most requested is the key lime pie.

They also stick to the traditional recipe with whipped cream, and you can buy it by the slice or just take the whole pie (you’ll probably want the whole pie). They also sell fresh-made baguettes, sandwiches and pastries.

Address: 930 Eaton St, Key West, Florida

Key West Key Lime Pie Company

‘If we don’t make it, we don’t sell it’ – is the motto for Key West Key Lime Pie Company. They’ve also been voted a favorite from some big names, including Food Network’s Throw Down With Bobby Flay and CNBC’s The Profit with Marcus Lemonis.

Their traditional key lime pies are a favorite, but they also play around with a few other flavors, including mango, blueberry, toasted coconut, and extra tart flavors. They’ll even dip your slice of pie into a rich and decadent chocolate! They also have a gluten free crust, so really something for everyone.

Address: 511 Greene Street, Key West, Florida

Hotels in Key West that serve a great key lime pie

What could be better than staying in the best neighborhoods of Key West and that you know serves a great slice of key lime pie? That means pie for breakfast, pie for tea, pie for dessert…or just because, any time of day!

Here are a few hotels in Key West that serve delicious key lime pie:

We hope that your tastebuds are salivating and you’re ready to head straight to Key West to try out some of the best key lime pie in America!


Malmö West Sweden from the top

Nature Experiences in West Sweden

 

Just a short journey outside the city of Gothenburg is the wildnerss of Dalsland,  the unique Bohuslän archipelago with its beautiful smooth granite shoreline against the open horizon, and the scenic plains, hills and forests of Västergötland.

Here’s our roundup of how to discover West Sweden’s nature at its best:

Canoeing in Dalsland

Experience nature close-up, wild and genuine with a Dalsland canoeing trip. Feel like an adventurer, find serenity and experience privacy even though you are only 180 kilometers from Gothenburg. This is by far one of Europe’s finest lake systems, rich in nature with clean air and fresh water. More than 1000 lakes, Dalsland Canal and water is so clean and clear that you can drink it!

Kayaking in Bohuslän

All the way from the Gothenburg archipelago in the south to the Koster islands in the north, is a paddler’s paradise of marine national park, nature reserves, deserted isles, fishermen’s huts and clear blue waters. This is Sweden’s first marine national park and takes in the Koster Sea and the Koster Islands; above and below the water line some 12,000 species live here. The Bohuslän coast and its islands is one of the top 10 last great wilderness areas in the world, according to CNN. You find more than 8 000 island, no tide water and kayaking rentals or guided tours along the coast.

Hiking

Hiking in Sweden’s western regions is a nature experience like no other. You get the best of the wonderful coastal scenery, magical forests, endless lakes and historic landscapes rich in culture. Combine your walk with charming accommodation and food from the area.

The Gotaleden is a walking trail close to the city of Gothenburg, which has been divided into nine stages covering a total of 71 kilometres. Proximity to train stations on the different stages makes it easy to adapt the walk as you want. Natural landscapes along the trail are varied and beautiful, with lakes you can swim in, fantastic viewpoints and undulating countryside.

Making a pilgrimage is an ancient tradition that occurs throughout the world. Two of Sweden’s most beautiful pilgrim paths run through West Sweden’s primeval forests and historic cultural land. Adventurous walkers sought the peace and tranquillity of the countryside as early as the Middle Ages, until Gustav Vasa banned pilgrimages in the mid-16th century.

The Kuststigen is one of the most scenic hiking trails in West Sweden. It stretches from the island of Tjörn in the south, all the way up the west coast to Oslo. Some of the stages are on islands in the Bohuslän archipelago.

Bohus Path in West Sweden is a classic long-distance footpath that stretches from Strömstadin the north to Lindome in the south.

Seafood safaris and experiences

Fish and shellfish from West Sweden are as good as any in the world. In the cold, fresh, salty waters off the west coast there are prawns, langoustine, lobster, mussels, oysters – and fantastic fish, of course. So if you love seafood, the west coast offers the finest available, as well as a wide range of wild experiences.

72h cabin in Dalsland

Swedish nature helps you become less stressed, according to a new case study from Sweden. By spending 72 hours in glass cabins on an island of their own, five people with stressful jobs got to experience the Swedish ‘close to nature’ lifestyle. “The participants decreased their stress levels with almost 70 percent”, says Walter Osika, Researcher in Stress and also Associate Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Now, Sweden invites the rest of the world to wind down in nature like a Swede, making the glass cabins available for everyone to book for a 72 hour stay.

In Dalsland you find 3 locations for the glass cabins: Dalslands Aktiviteter, Happy Celery Glasscabins and Henriksholm. Each of them is a unique experience.  Dalslands Aktiviteter is great for those who love outdoor activities and adventures.Happy Celery Glass cabins offers vegan food, meditation, yoga and life coaching (NEW for May 2020). Henriksholm is the island where you can find the 5 original glass cabins.