Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve

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Mossy and leafy forest floor in Slieve Bloom Mountains.

© Shutterstock / Yevhen Nosulko

A 2300-hectare nature reserve with a mountain range in the middle, full of walking and biking trails. A visit to Slieve Bloom is the perfect excuse to explore this often overlooked area of Ireland.

Straddling Offaly and Laois, there are a number of walking trails ranging from easy 4km loop walks to the multi-day 75km Slieve Bloom Way. The walks are all color-coded according to difficulty. Walking is probably the best way to spot some of the reserve’s rare species of birds and appreciate the wide variety of wildflowers.

Slieve Bloom is also a really popular spot for mountain biking. It has 35km of dedicated trails with plans to eventually expand them to 100km. If you prefer slow wandering, there are plenty of concrete roads to cycle on too. The mountains themselves are one of the oldest in Europe and once stood 3,700 metres tall.

According to Irish mythology, the famous warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill was raised in the forests at the foothills of the mountains where he trained in warfare and hunting before beginning a renowned life of adventure.

Access to the nature reserve is via six main trailhead access points. To find out which is the most convenient for you and for directions, go to the reserve’s website.