Trail: Killeshandra Loop, Co. Cavan
Terrain: Lakeshore paths, forestry roads, grassy paths and minor road
Duration: 90 minutes
Trailhead: Town Lough, Killeshandra, Co. Cavan
Recommended Gear: Hiking boots, rain jacket, water, snacks, phone
Ireland is a treasure trove of nature walks just waiting to be discovered. Our little island is home to lush green, peaceful escapes that lie hidden beside small towns that positively hum with things to do and see, meaning the biggest problem you’ll have when planning a short walking break is sifting through the many options available to you!
Killeshandra Loop lies just outside the picturesque Cavan village and is an example of beautiful, unspoilt nature that is totally accessible by car, and a stone’s throw from great food, drink and accommodation options.
As you walk along the country path flanked with colourful flora, there isn’t a sound to be heard aside from birdsong - and you’ll feel like you are miles and miles away from civilisation as you breathe in the fresh country air and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Killeshandra is one of the towns in the Cavan Burren Geo Park, one of the finest prehistoric relict landscapes in Ireland, with the park itself dating back around 340 million years to when this entire area was covered in a shallow tropical sea. The Park is home to many scenic walking loops, and our choice, The Killeshandra Loop is one of the most picturesque and refreshing walks in the area.
Nestled right in the heart of the country, Killeshandra is easily accessed from every corner of Ireland.
From Dublin, take the Navan road continuing on to the M3 following signs for Cavan. Killeshandra is 18km outside of Cavan town, on the R199.
Once you arrive in Killeshandra, you’ll pass through the town until you see a signpost for the Killeshandra Loop Walk down to the right.
Take this right turn and again, you’ll see a signpost for the Town Lake carpark just a couple of minutes later on your left.
If there is a lake in front of you (Town Lake itself), you’ll know you’re in the right spot.
The trail itself
This trail starts at the idyllic Town Lake carpark, where you’ll spot locals taking time out to fish and relax by the lakeshore. The Killeshandra rivers and lakes offer some of the best fishing in the country, with bream, roach, pike, eel and tench all plentiful in the waters.
When you’re facing the lake, the trail begins to your right, and you’ll see the trailhead marked with a map board complete with all the information you’ll need. The trail is dotted with informative panels detailing the evolution of the low-lying lakeshore landscape.
From here, keep your eyes peeled for the purple arrow veering right through the grass - there is a small wooden gate to pass through, and this will take you out onto a minor roadway for a short distance.
Turning left at the road, continue until you come across another purple arrow directing you to cross the road into forest landscape.
Once you’ve crossed into the forest you’ll feel the shift in the atmosphere immediately. A thick forest canopy overhead means the uphill path is covered but for a few specks of light through the leaves, giving this part of the trail a real air of magic and discovery.
The path soon opens out into a beautiful open country path, and if you look to your left you’ll see Tullyguide lake shimmering through the trees.
This trail is wild and some of the signage can be tricky to spot, so keep your eyes peeled for a left turn that isn’t signposted. You’ll arrive at a Y-turn and if you look up to your left, you’ll see your trusty purple arrow again. Take this left, and then a right when you reach the main path again, and you’ll be taken back through dense forestry.
All along the walk, you’re accompanied by a cacophony of aromas and birdsong, coupled with a spray of colour on either side of the path, meandering into thick leafy green forestry.
After 2km of lush woodland, you’ll be greeted with sandy roadway. Here you’ll turn right, and right again when you reach a T-junction.
At the next junction, you’re taking a sharp left turn back into forest avenue along the edge of Pleasure Lake.
Now it’s time to take in the town, as you walk along the Main Street towards the carpark once more, stopping in for sustenance or refreshments at one of the many pubs if it takes your fancy!
The Killeshandra Loop Walk is truly one of the most refreshing and rejuvenating experiences to be had in Ireland. Given its picturesque setting in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, it’s the definition of peace and tranquillity.
Loughbawn Hotel - Situated on the Main Street of Killeshandra, this is the spot if you’re looking for convenience, just a short walk away from the trailhead. A lively spot with live music on Saturday nights, this is the place for those who are on the hunt for a bit of craic in the evenings.
Lakeside Cottages: This is a great option if you like to be self-sufficient on your family getaways. These two and three-bedroom cottages sleep 4-6 people and are within walking distance to shops, pubs, restaurants and lakes.
- Cavan Town: Music and art take centre stage in this lively town, just a 25-minute drive from Killeshandra. With plenty of options for food and drink, as well as boutique shopping, this is a great place to spend an afternoon or an evening listening to live music.
- Carrigallen: This South County Leitrim town is located where the three provinces Ulster, Leinster and Connaught meet between the northern and southern shores of Town Lake. This town is a popular angling centre with spectacular scenery. In the centre of the town, you’ll find the Corn Mill Theatre, with a lively jam-packed entertainment schedule year-round.
Cavan Burren Park is a true hidden gem in the heart of the country, full of beautiful scenery and walks. The stunning prehistoric park boasts numerous geological and archaeological features including megalithic tombs and glacial erratics. You’ll find dwelling sites, hut sites, propped stones, rock art, wedge tombs, dolmens and cairns - plenty to explore and uncover.
Cloughoughter Castle is one of the most Instagrammed ruins in Ireland - and for good reason. The beautiful circular castle on a small island is just 4km from the town of Killeshandra. Guided boat tours run from Cavan Canoe Centre regularly, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not kayak or take a canoe? There is also a fantastic exhibition from the castle at Cavan County Museum - well worth a visit.
Food and Drink?
Kelly’s Bar, Killeshandra: This pub is right on the Main Street of Killeshandra and offers hearty pub grub throughout the week. A spacious garden terrace out the back is a great place to while away the hours, and there is live music every Thursday and Saturday night.
Image via Facebook/Kellysbarkilleshandra
Loughbawn Hotel, Killeshandra: This family-run hotel, also on the Main St, serves bar food throughout the day and has a great entertainment schedule - so be sure to time your visit cleverly! They cater for small parties also, so this is the perfect place to plan a family celebration.
The Oakroom Restaurant, Cavan: If you fancy venturing further afield, there are plenty of great options for food and drink in Cavan Town. The Oakroom Restaurant uses locally sourced fresh produce and prides itself on quality food and service at a reasonable price. There’s a delicious a la carte menu from Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30pm.
For spectacular sights, invigorating sensations and unforgettable experiences, make your next short break a walking break in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Before you go, make sure you check out our 10 Genuinely Useful Tips For Going Hiking In Ireland to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable walk.
It’s always important to be respectful of the wildlife and surrounding environment, so make sure to leave the trail as you found it. Visit leavenotraceireland.org for more information.