Just beyond Cong Abbey, the village abruptly ends and the woodlands surrounding Ashford Castle begin. First built in 1228 as the seat of the de Burgo family, owners over the years included the Guinness family (of stout fame). Arthur Guinness turned the castle into a regal hunting and fishing lodge, which it remains today. Although the only way to look inside its restored interior is to stay or dine here, the surrounding estate is open to the public.
The 140 hectares of parkland, covered with forests, streams and a golf course, are great to explore. Walking through the Kinlough Woods gets you away from the golfers and out to the shores of Lough Corrib. You can also stroll along the riverbanks to the monk's fishing house near Cong Abbey. Occasionally there is no entry to the estate due to private functions.