How does this work?
Durrow, County Laois, Ireland

Durrow Leafy Loop Guide

Enjoy a full 13.2 mile loop around the Durrow valley.

Content
provided by
Viewed 7564 times
    This guide contains photos This guide contains audio
 (2 votes)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 13.2 miles / 21 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: The Leafy Loop around Durrow is a good 5.5 to 6.5 hours of a 13.2 mile or 22 km walk. it climbs to 100m at The Ballagh and will require good health and good boots. The good news is that it is worth it - it's a glorious walk through forests, by rivers, up hills to oversee the valley and down into the charming village of Durrow itself.

The Leafy Loop is a longer version of the Dunmore Loop walk which follow the same route until a divergence just before Clonageera House on the other side of the village. You get to see many of the fine sights along the way then climb to see the magnificent valley. It's an extra 4+ miles, but if you're fit, it is well worth it.

This walk is well signposted with a variety of posts along the way. Purple arrows indicate the signs for the Leafy Loop and have been placed with thought and care by people who are keen to keep you on the right path at all times.


Tips: A sturdy pair of boots and raingear are recommended for this walk which is on grass and soft ground a lot of the time. Please observe the country code of closing all gates and taking your litter home. Bring some water to keep you healthy and binoculars to enjoy the abundance of fauna along the way.

Unfortunately, dogs are forbidden on the Leafy Loop walk. Our access to farmlands has been negotiated with land owners strictly on this basis. Even dogs on a leash can cause problems (for the walkers more than the animals) where livestock aren’t used to them, and while much of the walk is in woodland some stretches pass through farmland where horses, cattle and sheep are grazed and need to be kept free of dogs.

Be aware of catching Lyme Disease on the walk by looking at the link Tick Tock Ireland on the right hand column.

PLEASE NOTE: each guide needs to be downloaded separately in order to work offline with the EveryTrail Pro app. Best to download only the ones you are likely to be using during your stay. If downloading when at Castle Durrow, make the most of the foyer area WiFi and download your chosen tour/s once you've reviewed the material. All guides are subject to acceptance of the navigatour™ Licence Agreement, the link of which is on the right hand column.

Points of Interest

Junction
map

Start of Leafy Loop

Half way up lane to Castle Durrow, you'll see the signpost for the start of both the Leafy Loop and the Dunmore Loop walks. Go through the wooden gate and stroll down the lane to start either walk in earnest.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Welcome
Water
map

Right along the river

The walk will take you down the gentle slope and left by the Erkina river. Fuller details of what can be seen here can be enjoyed on the shortest of the Durrow Guides walks, being the Castle Durrow Grounds Guide.

For now, you're embarking on something a lot more challenging, but rewarding - the 13.2 mile/21 kilometre Leafy Loop walk. It tallies with the path of the 10 mile/16 kilometre Dunmore Loop, but takes in the climb up the Ballagh to Tubberboe then down to Castledurorw demesne by the Bishop's Tree and back along the Erkina. At a pace, it can be done in 5.5 hours, but it should be enjoyed and plenty of stops to enjoy the flora, the fauna and the history of the place should be factored in.

Carry on along the river path - it is along here that some fine fishing can be done. Ask in Lawlor's shop in Durrow for details on angling licences. The local fishing club was founded in 1968 and has been going from strength to strength ever since. The rivers Erkina and Nore flow though the parish along with rivlets Goul and Gully. Over 90% of waters within the parish are controlled by the club. Visit http://www.durrowcullohillanglers.com/ for details on permits.

There's also a canoeing club that uses this river - ask Bob in Bob's Bar or Woodenbridge Paddlers Club for more details.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Kissing tree
Water
map

Over the metal bridge

You'll have a chance to stretch your legs before you need to cross over at the metal bridge. The Erkina is a river that is worth taking some time to enjoy or indeed to fish from here.

The Erkina River is the largest of the Nore river tributaries in South Laois and has it’s source at a point close to where Counties Laois, Tipperary and Kilkenny meet. It’s journey takes it past Templequain bridge and Clarney Hall bridge. At 1km west of Rathdowney the Quinn river joins the Erkina. This waterway serviced the old malt mill at Donaghmore near the current Donaghmore Agriculture and Famine Museum (formerly Donaghmore Workhouse). From Coneyburrow bridge at Rathdowney the Erkina makes it’s way past Rathdowney 18 Hole Golf Course and passes under Coolkerry bridge, Carrig bridge and Boston bridge.

The river then becomes slow moving as it approaches the wooden bridge. This bridge, as it’s name suggests, is made of wood and is one of a small number in Ireland carrying regular road traffic. The river then traverses an area known as the “Curragh”. This area is a bird-watchers paradise as many species of migrating birds flock here each winter. This was illustrated in Don Conroy and Jim Wilson’s book “Bird Life in Ireland”. The river then makes it’s way through the alluvial woodlands of Bishopswood and Knockanoran before entering the grounds of beautiful Castle Durrow.

After passing the ruins of Merciers Mill 1km east of Durrow, the Erkina river has its confluence with the Nore river - we'll be passing by that point later on.

Song
Memory, hither come,
And tune your merry notes:
And, while upon the wind
Your music floats,
I’ll pore upon the stream
Where sighing lovers dream,
And fish for fancies as the pass
Within the watery glass.

- William Blake
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Bridge over the Erkina
Information
map

Flora & fauna noticeboard

Not only is this looped walk well signposted, it also has noticeboards along the way to tell you what to look out for in terms of flora and fauna.

The ancient alluvial woodland site of Durrow area has a preponderance of native tree species. While the ash tree is certainly in abundance, also look out for alder – grey and Italian, sycamore, horse-chestnut, lime, yew, winch elm, willow, birch and pendunculate oak as well as hazel and holly.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Purging buckthorn
Viewpoint
map

Castle and obelisk

In what seems like no time, you'll see for yourself how far you've walked form the castle which can be seen in the distance looking every part the opulent country retreat. In front of it, you should be able to see the obelisk which stands some eighteen feet high on a hill.

On the audio piece, hear the spooky story of the White Lady.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
The White Lady
Junction
map

Swan Road turn off

You'll come to the R434 Swan Road here. Cross the road, turn left and take the next right some 100 metres on.

On the audio piece, Ann tells us about the dawn chorus walkers outing every May.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Dawn chorus
Junction
map

Into the forest

Climb through the hole in this wall to get yourself back onto softer ground - straight away you'll be transformed to a different place.

Of the shrubs you can expect to see along the loop, look out for guelder rose, elder, and whitethorn, blackthorn and spindle with the hawthorn being the most common. Herbaceous woodland plants on the loop include honeysuckle, ivy, enchanters nightshade and make fern. Pride of place goes to the rare purging buckthorn. In the summertime, you’ll see lots of fragrant meadowsweet along the riverbank. In the river itself you’ll find salmon, trout and pike.

Most interestingly of all, you’ll also find the endangered pearl mussel, Margaritifera Durrowvensis, of which you'll hear more of in a later audio piece. For now, hear about the Dunmore estate.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Dunmore estate
Parking
map

Dunmore demesne car park

Take note of the car park here if wishing to do this section of the walk again.

As you'll hear on the audio piece, this is a favourite section for families to walk.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Dunmore family loop
map

Beech trees

Take note of the abundance of long thin beech trees that grow straight up along this stretch.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Beech mass
Landmark
map

Sweet chestnut tree

This is the location for one of the more incongruous trees in the forest - a sweet sycamore tree.

On the audio, hear Sean tell the story of how the grey squirrel is supposed to have turned up in Ireland.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Grey squirrels
map

Leafy path

There is a host of funghi and flora along this beautiful peaceful stretch which is the old corridor to Dunmore House.

Ann and Sean tell you just some of the flora to be looking out for on the audio piece.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Wild flowers
map

Green moss location

Take note of some verdant growth to the left here - this soft green moss was in its time used for a number of household tasks, as well as diapers!
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Moss
Landmark
map

The Big House

Dunmore House was a three storey gable ended house founded early in the 18th century by a gentleman named Drysdale. It was subsequently occupied by Dr. Maurice, Protestant Bishop of Ossory, who died here in 1756, and lies buried in Durrow. Dr. Maurice was succeeded by his relative Captain (afterwards Sir) Robert Staples, ancestor of the last proprietors. Nearly opposite Dunmore House, on the left bank of the Nore, is the ancient churchyard of Rathkilkeedy.

It's a sorry sight from its former glory with only a boarded up entrance to one of the cellars and some eery trees. To this day, stories are told of how the deceased members of the Staples family were all buried at midnight, the reason for which your guess is as good as ours.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Staples' funerals
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Big House
Viewpoint
map

Nore river

You're now at the famous Nore river - the strange apparatus keeps vital data on the river for the local authority. Resist the temptation to try and swing across! The Nore river is one of the finest rivers in the Irish Midlands. It has it’s source in the Devil’s Bit Mountain, in northern Tipperary county. The river crosses the Laois County line, 3km west of Borris-in-Ossory and continues it’s journey by the basin at Coolrain and Crannagh Bridge. At Castletown bridge it crosses the weir which serviced the old corn mill still standing at this site.

It continues through Mountrath Golf Course, Jeston’s Bridge, Newbridge all before entering “The Mash”. This location is a haven for wild birds and is close to the village of Shanahoe. From there it flows by Poorman’s bridge and Waterloo bridge before traversing the famous De Vesci Estate. It’s journey then takes it past Watercastle bridge, Dunmore bridge and the beautiful countryside around Durrow.

After passing the Tallyho bridge, the New York rapids and the remains of the Assmills, the river enters Kilkenny county moving by the old mill and broken weir at Ballyragget. It then continues by Threecastles before meandering through the Marble city of Kilkenny.

The river Nore meets the river Barrow northwest of the town of New Ross, Wexford county. At Cheekpoint they join forces with the river Suir to form the Three Sisters and continue their journey to the sea at Hook Head.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Fish in the river
Water
map

Divergence of Gully and Nore rivers

Having found it’s source from the many springs of Cuddagh Bog, the Gully river flows through more fertile land as it passes Gortnaclea Castle west of the village of Shanahoe. It then continues by Derrylahan bridge, Moyne Demesne and links up with the Nore river at Dunmore Demesne and Woodlands. A well known place to fish.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Wildlife by the river
Junction
map

New Bridge

You'll be coming to the New Bridge by the N77. The development forum intend the path to go under the river at some stage, but for now, go to your right, follow the path and cross the road to continue the walk - all well signposted we're pleased to say.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Nearly Kilkenny
Water
map

Two rivers meet

As mentioned earlier, the Erkina river finally joins the Nore at this point. If paddling with the Woodenbridge Paddlers canoe club, this is a particularly enjoyable part of the journey.

On the audio piece, hear Sean Conroy tell us about the unusual pearl mussel that can be found in the river, the Marguretifora Durrowvensus pearl mussel no less.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Pearl mussel
Viewpoint
map

Knockatrina House

To your left is a tree stands out and has a touch of the other world about it, growing as it does so precariously close to the river. Those that have seen the film 'Pan's Labyrinth' may even think it is related to the tree that contained the giant frog!
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Knockatrina house
Junction
map

Off limits - turn right

Please note that you'll be turning to your right here to continue the walk as the section over the fence is now off limits.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
McGillapadraig walks
Viewpoint
map

Woodlands wonderland

The woodland has developed fen peat and the soil is base-rich and moist.
Animals you might spot along the way are Irish hares, badgers, red squirrels, pine martens, otters, stoats, hedgehog, smooth newt, frogs and bats. The loop has many birds to see and hear: treecreepers, goldcrests, blue tits, coal tits, blackbirds, sparrowhawks, widgeon, swans and kingfisher.

Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Derry wood
Landmark
map

Brick memorial

The Durrow Brick Company was established in 1890, and flourished for a time until its eventual demise and the dismantling of the works at Attanagh in 1922. This small memorial with genuine Durrow brick is a small testament to their once great status. Perhaps more fittingly, there are scores of buildings around Ireland and Dublin in particular that still stand having been built with Durrow brick.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Durrow brick
map

The swing

Take time out from the walk to enjoy swinging from this homemade swing. It's great fun, if your weight can take it! If you had been in two minds whether to do the Leafy Loop walk, now is a good time to ask yourself are you ready fro another 6 kms with a big hill up the Ballagh in the next 300 metres?

After this swing you'll be making your way through the narrow path with big hedges on either side. When you get to the road, you'll be turning right to continue the Dunmore loop that takes you downhill and into Durrow village.

The more energetic will be turning left for the final stretch of the Leafy Loop walk.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Autumnal smells
Junction
map

Leafy Loop turn

Don't be tempted by the easy stroll down the hill that the Dunmore Loop folk will take - the best view of the whole area is yours to enjoy if you can make it up the Ballagh! Carry on past Clonageera House on your right - this fine house once belonged to another Ashbrook scion, but is now in private hands so please look from afar!
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Clonageara house
Viewpoint
map

The Ballagh

The relentless Ballagh stretch is sore on the legs, but when you see the view of the valley, you'll be grateful you stuck with it.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
The Ballagh
Junction
map

Gate Lodge

Having made your way back down through Capponellan wood, you'll be crossing the road and going past the gatehouse lodge. Ensure when closing the gates you notice the meticulous craftsmanship involved.

On the audio piece, hear Ann tell us about Trails Day.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Trails day
Junction
map

Towards the Bishop's tree

This point marks where you can turn left to see the Bishop's tree. Local legend has it that a bishop was hung here in Penal times for saying a mass when it was outlawed. The site is marked, but if it is getting dark, you may want to keep moving!
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Bishopswood
map

Back on the Erkina

In what might seem like a mini marathon, you are now on the home stretch with your return to the Erkina river. Turn right here and relax in the knowledge that a warm fire and a bowl of soup are only 20 minutes or so away.

Hear Bob Campion talk about the Woodenbridge paddlers on the audio piece.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Bob and the Woodenbridge paddlers
map

Erkina flora

If walking at the right time of year, take note of the abundance of flora, especilly fragrant meadowsweet along the riverbank. The area is enriched by calcareous springs and the vegetation has a fen character. Carry on past the metal bridge - by now you'll see that you're doubling back on where you started all those hours ago. Keep going until you see Castle Durrow to your right. We hope you have enjoyed the walk and if so, tell your friends and come back with them some time soon.
Audio
Please install flash to listen to the audio
Walking festival
Pictures in this guide taken by: navigatourist

2011-2012 navigatour™. All rights reserved.

Durrow Leafy Loop Guide Map


POIs: numbers | icons View large Map

Have an iPhone or Android?

  • Map your route while you move
  • Add trip photos to your map instantly
  • Share trips right from your phone
  • Find and follow trips from other travelers

Available For:
iPhone | Android

About the Author

navigatourist
navigatourist
35 guides
view navigatourist's profile
navigatour® is an innovative GPS travel service for getting the most out of seeing Ireland. Already...

Durrow Leafy Loop Guide 3 Day Forecast

Extended Forecast
How To Get There
Get directions from: