If you’re retired or that final day of work is on the horizon at long last, the time has come to do all those things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Well here in Killaloe, we are on hand to show you a good time! If you are geared up for an active weekend away in the Lough Derg region but are lacking some inspiration for ideas, then here are some of our favourite things to do outdoors in the area.
1. An abundance of great walks
Nothing clears the head and soothes the soul quite like a stroll in the great outdoors. And the Lough Derg region is just teeming with stunning trails, mountains and Instagram worthy photo opportunities to explore. There is an abundance of walking routes around Killaloe and its hinterland, including easy walks for beginners to mid-level ability, all the way up to routes that will appease even the most advanced hiker. The East Clare Way Loop Walk, the Lough Derg Way and Graves of the Leinster Men Loop are just a few of the walks we recommend but check out our full list of the best walks in the Killaloe region here for more information.
2. Go on a treasure hunt (geocaching)
For an added element to your stroll, why not go geocaching? Whether you are a kid or an adult, the thought of a free treasure trail is tempting for everyone. Follow the interactive map on the Geocaching website which provides clues of where the cache is hidden. When you find it, add your name to the list, take a small gift and leave a small gift. There are two caches in the Killaloe area and nine in Ballycuggaran Woods. Happy hunting!
3. Go for a spin on your bicycle
The shoreline of Lough Derg is just as thrilling as its waters and the best way to experience the beauty and vastness of Ireland’s largest lake is from the saddle of a bike. There are plenty of hills to break a sweat on, twisting roads to race on and of course our favourite part of cycling, coffee shops and villages to stretch your legs and inhale some cake in. There are ample cycle routes and bike trails in the Killaloe/Lough Derg Region, all just waiting to be pedalled. From the Ring of Lough Derg Cycleway to the North Tipperary Cycle Routes and Bike Park Ireland, you are spoilt for choice. Check out our comprehensive list of the best cycle routes in the Lough Derg region for some inspiration.
4. Dine outdoors with a picnic lunch
A great addition to any activity you choose for the day is a luxury picnic lunch. The Killaloe Hotel can arrange anything from finger sandwiches to smoked salmon and fine wines or champagne. So, on the summit of your hike or the bank of the lake after a swim, why not dig into something scrumptious in the great outdoors with a picnic lunch?
On the water:
5. Catch your own dinner
It’s in and on the water where Lough Derg really comes alive. It is one of the top angling amenities in Western Europe, renowned for its stocks of large brown trout, pike and coarse fish. There are plenty of people eagerly waiting to take you out on the water and discover its magic. TJ’s Angling Centre or Paul Bourke Savage AR for Guided Pike, Trout, & Perch Fishing Trips on Lough Derg are just two such providers who will take you out on a boat to catch your own dinner!
6. Relax on the river with a cruise
You can’t come to Lough Derg without going on a river cruise. For just €14 you can spend an hour relaxing on the river on the Spirit of Killaloe. But if you are a fan of gin, then you’ve got to do the gin cruise! Improve your gin knowledge with the onboard masterclass while sipping on gin cocktails and sampling different brands of gins. The cruise lasts an hour and a half and is the brainchild of Colette Acton. So recline and relax on board with your tumbler of gin in hand and bask in your beautiful surroundings.
7. Paddle a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard)
Just because you’re retired, doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. If you have not tried Stand Up Paddleboarding, we urge you to change your ways. It is simply one of the best ways to explore Lough Derg. It’s good for the soul and gives your core a workout too! Soulkite, who is based in Killaloe, provide stand up paddle (SUP) lessons and tours of Lower Lough Derg.
If you have your own board, then Lough Derg is also perfectly set up for a self-guided paddling adventure. The Lough Derg Blueway features 21 trails just waiting to be explored. Do it at sunrise or sunset to make it a truly memorable experience.
8. Wade in the water (wild swimming)
Nothing clears the head more than a dip in open water. One spot we recommend to wade into is Two Mile Gate, at the blue flag beach of Ballycuggaran. It’s a popular spot for triathlons plus the annual Christmas Day Charity Swim. The old wooden jetties just to the right of the car park are picture perfect to perch yourself on before and after your swim.
However, if the idea of frigid waters is too much for you but you still want the outdoor experience, there is a public outdoor heated swimming facility at Riverside Park in Ballina that opens during the summer months.
9. Go for a paddle on a kayak
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled to the sky for the White Tailed Sea Eagle. They have been breeding on the shores of Lough Derg at Portumna for a number of years. Ruben, from Lough Derg Watersports can bring you out on the water specifically in search of them.
If you have your own kayak or canoe, glide along one of the Blueway Paddling Trails. There is 160km of trails on Lough Derg and 14 formal access points around the lake. You can find maps and all the information you need for your paddling adventure on the Blueways Ireland website.
10. Sail away sail away sail away
Gazing out onto the waters of Lough Derg your eyes will be treated to picturesque views of white sails skipping across the water. And if you are anything like us, you will crave to be on one of those boats yourself and you can! For €45, you can enjoy a Lough Derg Sailing Tour where you can sit back and enjoy the momentum of crossing the waves as an experienced guide does all the work for you. Alternatively, if you want to get your hands dirty (or wet), you can sign up for a short introductory course with ULAC.