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Walks

It’s time to… take a walk in the Slieve Bloom Mountains!

When staying with us at Sefton Cottage, there are a great deal of things to see and do. From afternoons sightseeing, through to a drink in the pub, there’s almost nothing better than enjoying a long leisurely walk around some of our beautiful spots.

One of the most popular places to enjoy a walk nearby is the Slieve Bloom Way, a circular route of some 84km, which takes you through the Slieve Bloom Mountains. A favourite of ourselves and also many of our guests, this Way offers some of the best views you can get near the cottage, along with walks of all abilities.

There are a few rough and rugged sections; however, they rarely rise to high altitude and do not demand great stamina. A number of shorter looped walks (ranging from 1hr to 4hrs) start and finish at each of the trailheads and are more suitable for the occasional walker.

How to get there?

Sefton Cottage is set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, and so is the perfect place for a lovely walking holiday. The Slieve Bloom Way is best accessed at one of six key trailheads, which provide information map boards and car parking. These are located reasonably close to other services and facilities, such as shops, accommodation, restaurants and public transport, and so the perfect place to start and end your journey.

The trailhead closest to Sefton Cottage is number four, the Kinnitty Forest entrance which is right near Kinnitty Village. The trailhead is signposted from the village and is located approximately 2.8km from the village on the R440 in the Mountrath direction.

Try the Glinsk Castle Loop walk

This two to three hour walk is perfect for a medium experienced walker. Taking beautiful paths over trails and through woodland, this walk will take you by old ruins of a castle and is well worth a visit!

  1. Start from the Kinnitty Forest entrance, which is described above and is just 3km from the village. After 30m keep left at the Y-junction of forestry roads following the blue arrow. You are also following a green arrow for the shorter Kinnitty Castle Loop and yellow arrow for the long-distance Slieve Bloom Way later in the journey, so don’t discount these yet! After a little more than 1km you reach a 3-way junction with a wooden gate on your left. Through the wooden gate will take you into the grounds of Kinnitty Castle – which is well worth a visit – but you do need to come back to the original path to continue on this route.
  2. Your loop turns right (uphill) here, and continues to ascend along a forest road for almost 1km before rounding a right bend and reaching a Y-junction. Veer to the right here – still following the Slieve Bloom Way and the green arrows.
  3. After 500m turn left onto an uphill woodland trail – the shorter green loop continues straight on here. You follow the blue arrow and the Slieve Bloom Way.
  4. This path takes you through mature woodlands to exit on a forestry road where you turn right. About 200m afterwards you turn left at a 3-way junction and, almost immediately, veer left again at another junction. You are still also on the Slieve Bloom Way.
  5. Climb the hill and, after 500m take a right at a junction. After 600m you leave the Slieve Bloom Way – taking a right turn onto a faint woodland trail to the ruins of Glinsk Castle (stone pillars and walls).
  6. Follow the trail through the pillars, over the brow of the hill, and downhill through trees to rejoin the Slieve Bloom Way at a forest track. Turn right here.
  7. After 200m turn left onto a downhill forestry trail.
  8. Continue to follow the loop on its downhill journey through the mature trees. Cross two forestry tracks to exit at the trailhead.
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Places to eat and drink near Sefton Cottage

Kinnitty Castle

Kinnitty Castle Hotel, Ireland offers luxury accommodation in the picturesque village of Kinnitty, Co. Offaly. Nestled in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, our 4* Castle Hotel offers the perfect accommodation for any break, and we have fantastic gift vouchers for many occasions.  

Arrive up the winding avenue, opening into breathtaking views of the 13th century castle seated on 650 acres of parkland, inclusive of 60 acres of rolling lawns. Enter the lavish medieval revival castle, drenched in original features, heritage colours and regal atmospheres dating back to 1209.

Wander through the fine settings of the Library Bar, The Sli Dala Restaurant and the Drawing Room all with magnificent character. Relax beside our unique open fires, enjoy the best of local cuisine prepared by our Head Chef, Mark Conneely – Best Chef in Offaly 2015.

Slieve Bloom Bar

The Slieve Bloom Bar is situated right in the centre of Kinnitty village, opposite the local community centre, and the large black and white building dates back to the 1800’s.

It is run by Kieran Clements and has been in the family for nearly 50 years.

This traditional Irish pub has always been a welcome spot for walkers, bikers, scouts, anglers and the rest, who are always met with a hot fire! Kieran is well known for his passion for Irish and local history and sport, and loves to chat and debate about facts, myths, stories and Irish folklore!

If you’re lucky enough to be attending a wedding at Kinnitty Castle, why not pop down for a drink during the day or night to discover what this truly Irish traditional bar has to offer.

Giltraps

Giltraps Pub in Kinnitty, County Offaly, Ireland, is a landmark building in the centre of the picturesque village at the foothills of the Slieve Bloom mountains in the Irish midlands. Dating back to the seventeenth century when it was originally a hotel, Giltraps Pub is now a family run operation managed by the Clendennen family.

Whether you’re looking for an open fire after a days hiking or walking in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, attending a wedding at Kinnitty Castle Hotel, want to have the ‘craic’ or chat about GAA with the locals or you’re simply looking for the ‘perfect’ pint of Guinness, then Giltraps is one of the best pubs / bars in the area to chose from.

Giltraps has been awarded a number of accolades including Black & White Scotch Whisky Heritage Pub of the Year, James Joyce Pub of the Year Award and the highest recognition (5 stars) in Pub Spy Review by the Sunday World newspaper. 

Townsend Tapas – Birr

A wonderfully stylish restaurant sat within a picturesque Georgian house, the Townsend House Tapas & Wine Bar is a delightful little eatery that brings a wealth of tantalising flavours to all that find themselves in the scenic Irish heritage town of Birr. Found among spectacular views of the garden beyond, the Townsend House Tapas and Wine Bar offers up a fine spot from which to escape those everyday trials and tribulations.

Spinners  – Birr

Spinners on Castle St. is a family run boutique restaurant located in the picturesque, Georgian town of Birr, Co. Offaly in the heart of the Irish Midlands. The town of Birr is situated right in the centre of Ireland and is only a short distance from all the major capital Cities. The warm and welcoming atmosphere of Spinners on Castle St. is designed to indulge, relax and unwind. From the relaxing and enchanting courtyard to our fine dining restaurant and casual dining bar, this is a place to soothe and inspire.

The exquisitely crafted menus are updated monthly and designed to benefit from local produce, emphasising our commitment to fresh organic food.

The Thatch – Birr

The Thatch, situated in the village of Crinkill, is one of the oldest pubs in South Offaly. As the name suggests it has always been thatched.  The Thatch has the unique distinction of being in the same family ownership for nigh on 200 years.

Many of the older generation remember this quaint and indeed exclusive pub as Mother Walsh’s. Throughout the years, visitors have come to The Thatch and reminisced on stories told to them by their fathers and grandfathers who affectionately remember happy evenings spent in the warm atmosphere of this fine traditional pub.

In 1995 a restaurant was added and its food business has grown from strength to strength. The Thatch continues to win awards from The Restaurant Association of Ireland as well as numerous accolades from distinguished food critics and writers.

Today The Thatch continues to offer the very best of modern Irish cuisine always using the finest local ingredients and seasonal produce prepared by Executive head chef James McDonnell and his passionate team.

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Things to do near Sefton Cottage

Slieve Bloom Mountains

The gentle rolling hills of the The Slieve Bloom Mountains rise from the central plains of Ireland, forming a natural link between the counties of Laois and of Offaly. The area is picturesque, peaceful, gloriously multi-coloured and one of the least explored in Ireland. Dotted around the mountains are quaint little villages, and to visit one is like stepping back in time to an era when life moved at a slower pace. These are the places where people will take the time to talk to you, will listen to your stories and enjoy telling you theirs. According to the locals the Slieve Bloom have everything, except the sea!

Only an hour and a bit from Dublin and Limerick and two hours from Cork and Galway the Slieve Bloom are easily accessible from all corners of Ireland. However, as well as being a wonderful destination in their own right, their central location makes the area an ideal base for visitors wishing to make trips to other parts of Ireland.

The Slieve Bloom, along with the Massif Central in France, are the oldest mountains in Europe; they were once also the highest at 3,700m. Weathering has reduced them to 527m. On a clear day, one can see the high points of the four ancient provinces of Ireland.

Birr Castle

The Award-Winning Gardens of Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre in Ireland are both rich in amazing feats of science and engineering as well as rare trees and flowers, wonderful wildlife, and walks along peaceful rivers and the lake. The Parsons family invite you to explore one of the most extraordinary places in Ireland. Created over generations it is an environmental and scientific time capsule.

Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise is an ancient monastic site near Shannonbridge, County Offaly, and a top visitor attraction in Ireland. A walk amongst the peaceful stone ruins of this famous place will conjure images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s renowned Golden Age of learning.

Founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century, it became a great centre of religion and learning, visited by scholars from all over the world. Many historical manuscripts, including the 11th century Annals of Tighernach and the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow, were written here.

Today, the site exists as a preserved ruin under the management of the Office of Public Works and visitors can see three high crosses, a cathedral, seven churches and two round towers. The beautifully preserved structures of Clonmacnoise Cathedral, Temple Doolin, Temple Hurpan and Temple Melaghlin will impress and leave those who visit Clonmacnoise with an authentic sense of the history of Ireland.

To dig deeper into the fascinating history of Clonmacnoise, visit the on-site interpretive visitor centre, which displays a number of cross slabs and the 9th century Cross of the Scriptures. The Clonmacnoise graveyard surrounding the site continues to be in use, while religious services are held regularly on the site in a modern chapel.