Carrick-on-Shannon Cruise with a view

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One of Ireland's most popular inland resorts, Carrick-on-Shannon is a county town of Leitrim and the cruising capital of the Shannon. With 750km of cruising on offer, the town is perfectly poised as the gateway to the Shannon to the south and the Shannon-Erne waterway to the north. Surrounded by unspoiled scenery, it's long been renowned as an angler's paradise with many species of game and course fish available within a short distance of the town.

Whether you want to rent a cruiser or pick up a paddle boat, go fishing or indulge in a little retail therapy on the traditional streetscape, there is a diverse range of things to do in Carrick-on-Shannon. Whatever you're looking for, Carrick-on-Shannon and Ireland's Hidden Heartlands have something for everyone.

Duration of Itinerary: 2 days      

Highlights: Walking, Horse Riding, Dining out, Kayaking

MORNING

Cruising and Carrick-on-Shannon are synonymous so begin your day by making your way to the marina for cruising with Carrick Craft. There's a minimum of three nights required if you're doing an overnight option but it's occasionally possible to do a day-trip and Lough Key, two hours' away by boat, is brimful of activities. Complete the tutorial on the website in advance, and Carrick Craft will take you out for a run before waving you off.

You can cruise through Lough Key and onto the Boyle canal, to a harbour area close to the town of Boyle, approximately a half hour cruise. There's a walkway to get to the town, approximately a 20 minutes' stroll. Once you're there, the King House in Boyle, a magnificently restored Georgian mansion with interpretive exhibitions designed for both adults and children, is well worth a visit and if you have time, the impressively preserved Cistercian Abbey is a must too. Of course, if you can't catch a boat, you can drive from Carrick-on-Shannon to Lough Key in 20 minutes and follow the same itinerary, without the wet feet.

Ziplining in Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon Ziplining in Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon

AFTERNOON

Make sure to stop at Lough Key Forest Park on the outskirts of Boyle for the Lough Key experience that takes you on a journey to discover how humans shaped the landscape over thousands of years. The audio trail of the park's history, flora and fauna through the 19th century underground tunnels traverses to the top of the refurbished five-storey Moylurg viewing tower and along a contemporary tree canopy walk. The tour is self-guided so you can choose your own pace.

For something a little more adventurous, try zip-line action at the Zipit Forest Adventures, a treetop activity centre in the park with five tracks. You can also avail of electric bike trails or of a more traditional push bike to cycle the 8km woodland trail through the park. For a quirkier means of getting around, Woodland Segway offer guided tours on Segways. The most popular trip, the Rockingham Roll, will take you gliding around Rockingham Lawn for 30 minutes of fun.

If you're feeling peckish, enjoy the views over Lough Key and Castle Island from indoors or from the outdoor decking area at the Lakeside Café in Lough Key where a hot dish or a wrap will boost the energy levels for exploration.

Rowing in Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon Rowing in Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon

EVENING

Start your evening right with dinner at The Oarsman on Bridge Street, about a 15 minutes' drive from Lough Key, which is open from Tuesday to Saturday and Sundays by appointment. This Michelin-starred restaurant has a menu that includes crab, organic quail, rack of lamb, beef and vegetarian dishes. The quail is a must for those with a more refined palette.

For your final stop of the evening, travel from The Oarsman to any of the nearby pubs for a sup of whatever-you're-having-yourself. If live entertainment is on your wish-list, check out the popular Landmark Hotel which has played host to a whole range of entertainers from Nathan Carter to Tommy Tiernan.

For something more intimate, The Bush Hotel has a charming little bar. And for something entirely different, the Moon River Cruise should fit the bill with its bar, dance area and DJ, sailing from 10pm to midnight.

Cruisers in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim Cruisers in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim



MORNING

Make your way to Leitrim village just outside Carrick-on-Shannon to Electric Bike Hire, where you can hire regular hybrid bikes or electric bikes, available to adults and families for half and full days. If you don't drive, the bikes can be delivered to your hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon. Otherwise, it's recommended to begin from Leitrim village which is at the start of the Shannon Blueway, a network of multi-activity recreational trails by bike, foot or kayak.

Cycle to Drumshanbo, about an hour's leisurely spin along a canal bank, crossing the floating boardwalk at Acres Lake, nicknamed the 'snake in the lake'. At Acres Lake amenity site, there's a tennis court, playground and open air swimming pool that is open from June to the end of August. For the water sports enthusiast, a trip to the nearby Lough Allen Adventure Centre is a must. Drumshanbo has also gained fame for its 'stylish silage' competition, held as part of An Tóstal festival, that holds a 'wrap' party with a difference.

Once you've had your fill of exploring, we recommend lunch at The Sweet Geranium or the Lough Allen Hotel, Drumshanbo, home to the renowned Gunpower Irish gin. The gin was developed by serial entrepreneur PJ Rigney who is planning a major visitor experience on-site.

Boats through the trees in Carrick-On-Shannon Cruisers in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

AFTERNOON

For a spot of history, drop into the Sliabh an Iarainn visitor centre at Acres Lake. It's an audio-visual and interactive display on Sliabh an Iarainn, Agrina mines and North Leitrim. Find out more about the landscape and geology of Leitrim with emphasis on the area's industrial and musical heritage. It's a taste of history – but also a great experience.

EVENING

To wind your evening in, head back towards Carrick-on-Shannon for your final foodie treat, at St George's Terrace restaurant in a Victorian red-brick bank building. A homecoming for chef Dave Fitzgibbon who owns the premises with Siobhan Smyth, its tasting menu is a total treat.

If you feel like a spin out of town, make your way into Jamestown by car or bike for a fusion Asian-Irish feast at The Cottage Restaurant, by the river and weir. A traditional half door leads into a contemporary dining space where well-known chef Sham tempts the taste buds from Thursday to Sunday.

It's worth the trip as the food is the height of fine dining, working both as a feast for the eyes and the belly. Once you're suitably stuffed (the monkfish is a must), wrap your stay up with a live music session in a local pub. Flynns, the Swan, and Dunnes are usually good shouts, but check their schedules beforehand as performance days may change! It's quintessentially Irish and completely relaxing.




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