Food, wine, travel, music
6 days ago … From Fota to Ballymaloe, we have an abundance of colourful walks to explore with the whole family, says Roz Crowley.
Pics taken at The Ewe Experience, Glengarrif.
It’s hard to beat a day on a beach in good weather, but sometimes the weather beats us or we want something else, something of interest with perhaps the added incentive of a decent cup of coffee or lunch. In and around Cork there is an embarrassment of riches, and well worth the entrance fee to use facilities that are well maintained to entertain children as well as adults. Kildare-based garden designer Amelia Raben says children are attracted to gardens with secret areas where they can get out of sight of their parents. “They love areas that are screened off”, she says. The gardens here fit this criterion so that parents can have a few moments to observe plantings or historical notes while children wander. However, in all locations children need to be supervised with some steep drops a possible danger to them. Have a bracing walk all together with a tree book to hand to identify species, and ideally do some research on the history of the area ahead. Times here apply to summer only and most gardens do family or group rates. Ideally ring ahead to the smaller gardens as some of them close for private functions. westcorkgardentrail.com for more ideas.
Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens.
Plenty of space with a relaxed feel and staff members happy to explain flowers, where to find a fairy or the shell house. An acre of glasshouse shows children what peas and beans look like growing. Go to Ballymaloe House nearby for delicious food in the Café at the End of the Shop with another (free) walk afterwards around the garden.
Ballymaloe Cookery School gardens: Adults €6, children/concessions €3. Open every day 11–5.30pm.
Tourin House, Cappoquin
This 1840 house on the Blackwater river has vast gardens with impressive old trees, shrubs, wild flowers and fruit. Relaxed and informal, it has pathways for imaginary adventures in a space that feels free and more like a country walk than a stroll through a garden. A well maintained walled garden has a colourful mix of good specimens of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Open Tues–Sat 1–5pm. Adults €5, children/concessions €3. A tour of the house €5 and groups by appointment. Tel: 058 54405
No café, but nearby in the town, Barron’s Bakery has treats.
No cost for entry to the gardens makes this a terrific facility run by the OPW. On 47 hectares, plenty of relaxed parklands with an arboretum and then a snack in Fota House makes for a good day out. There is a charge for tours around the house and for entry to the wildlife park. Gardens open every day 10am–5pm.
Blarney Castle and gardens
While this may seem like an expensive walk, it is terrific value if you spend the day there. Children can explore the nooks and crannies, fairy dells and dungeons of the 60 acres, as well as climbing up to the top of the castle. The grounds are beautifully maintained and the café has good coffee. Open every day from 9am–7pm Adults €12, concessions €10, children (8-14 years)€5. Wheelchair users and assistants free.
Charles Fort, Kinsale
This 17th century star-shaped fort has good walks around it and plenty to explore. Good museum has interesting information. Café on site. Open 10–6pm Adult: €4.00 Concessions: €3.00 Child/Student: €2.00
The Glebe Gardens & Café, Baltimore
Glebe Café is the huge attraction here with delicious food from the kitchen garden which is available for viewing, including its two goats. A small garden, relaxed and interesting, overlooks the sea. Open Weds–Sun 10am–6pm. Garden entrance €6. Tel: 028 20232
Liss Ard, Skibereen
On the site of a ring fort and souterrain 150 acres of gardens, ponds and forest have trails, a waterfall garden and the Irish Sky Garden. Open every day 10am–5pm. Restaurant/café on site. Access to the estate garden is free with access to the crater €5 as part of a guided tour. Tel: 028 40 000.
Drishane House, Castletownsend
The home of Tom and Jane Somerville is where Edith Somerville painted and wrote The Irish RM and other books. A small museum and the house are worth a visit for book/art lovers, and the gardens are relaxed with plenty of winding pathways leading towards the sea. No café, but Annie’s nearby is good. Open daily 11–3. Gardens & museum adults €6, concessions. Children under 7 free. Tel: 028 36126
The Ewe Experience 4.82k north of Glengarriff
Lots of fun here for kids of all ages who can play noughts and crosses and other games in resting spots on the slight climb through a well managed wooded trail. Sheena Wood’s sculptures (with help from her husband Kurt) punctuate the landscape, drawing attention to areas of interest. Tea and homemade cake and icecream available. Good for all ages. Open every day 10 to 6pm. Adults €6.50, children €5.