Mary Cody enjoying the trail along the banks of the River Nore
Kilkenny is a magical place with an abundance of walks and trails that can be accessed from the heart of the city.
As part of the first ever Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival I decided to try out one of the ‘Bike and Hike’ activities. Every day at 10am you can rent a bike, for €15 for adults and €10 for children from Kilkenny Cycle Hire on John Street.
Jason Morrissey explains the route, along the Canal Walk, over the pedestrian bridge and onto the Dublin Road and Sion Road. The Sion Road is quiet and peaceful and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The terrain is gentle with no steep hills and the traffic is light and on yet another sunny morning it feels great to have the wind in your face as your pedal away from the city.
It takes around an hour at an easy pace and I decide to dismount in Bennettsbridge. Fortunately the village has seen somewhat of a revival in recent years and now there are a host of eateries to choose from. I decide to venture down to Crafted, a cafe and studio that opened last year.
Outside there is ample seating and the midday sun blasts down as I enjoy a late breakfast and coffee. The food is excellent and the staff pleasant and it has a lovely ambiance. Afterwards I wander back up the village and lock my bike to the railings and hand the key of the lock into the local butchers before setting off on my 12 kilometre trek back into the city.
The walk along the banks of the River Nore is magnificent and is on the flat. Nature abounds as swans and their cygnets swim past oblivious to the human in their midst. Apart from a father and son walking their dog and a young couple frolicking in the cool waters and the peace and quiet is only disturbed by the distant traffic on the motorway that is close by to part of the walk.
After you pass under the motorway bridge you are away from noise apart from birdsong and the lapping of water and it is blissful.
The walk takes approximately two hours but there is ample opportunity to sit and rest and soak in the sunshine and the scenery.
There are Trek and Treat events that will take you up Brandon Hill, across Thomastown and around Inistioge, all including a meal in a local restaurant or pub at the end. There are also free Walk the Bridges and Nordic Walking Workshops as well as a Trail Kilkenny Guided walk and picnic in Jenkinstown.
For the more energetic there are also North and South Kilkenny Cycling Loop walks and Bike and Hike events daily to Bennettsbridge daily, leaving O’Sullivan’s on John Street at 10am. Medieval Mile Treasure Hunts leave the same venue at the same time each morning.
Graignamanagh is also a hive of activity with Bike and Hike events run by Brian Roberts. Children will delight in the Wild Time kids camp and the community walk from the Barrow Valley Activity Hub.
Water lovers can also try guided white water adventures, guided history tours and self-guided canoe tours. There’s also pony treks at Meadow Lane Riding School as well as archery, clay pigeon shooting and rifle events for over 16s at the Countryside Leisure Activity Centre in Bonnettsrath.
Castlecomer Discovery Park is busy as usual and has numerous activities included in the programme of events that are also available all year round including the Zipline and Octagon as well as team building, raft building, catapult building and more.
And finally, if you’ve got a head for heights, then Ballykeeffe Quarry is the place to be for rock climbing sessions. For more see www.trailkilkennyoutdoor
The festival runs until July 15.
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