With a liquid playground that stretches out in all directions, it'd be easy to think that the area around Athlone doesn't offer much for the walker. Think again: gloriously low-lying, incredibly tranquil and enveloped in a panoply of green – the walking routes around Lough Ree and the Shannon are nothing short of breathtaking. Experience the nature, breathe in the calm and soak up the scenery on these three great walks.
Portlick Millennium Forest Walk
Filled with whimsical wooded glades offerings views of Lough Ree, this lovely forest walk weaves through a woodland of hazel, ash, beech and sycamore on grassy paths and earthy trails. Running to around 5km in length, with shorter trails available, the walk is located on the Whinning Peninsula near the village of Glasson, and makes a lovely spot for a picnic.
Warren Point Looped Walk
Set on the western shore of Lough Ree in County Roscommon, this fascinating loop mixes history with heartbreakingly beautiful vistas. The 5km trail through woods and lakeside trails is home to the incredible archaeological site of Rindoon, a medieval town with ivy-clad ruins that seem to grow out of the green Eden that surrounds them. The castle in particular is a highlight here, seeming perfectly at one with its surrounds.
Lough Boora Parklands
Just a 40-minute drive from Athlone and you're into what can only be described as a walking wonderland, where modern life fades into a landscape of tobacco-coloured bogland, lakes, wildlife and Mesolithic history. Once a commercial peat bog, Lough Boora has been transformed into a haven for walkers, cyclists and anglers. The five walking routes range from around 3km to 15km and maps and trails can be downloaded from their website at loughboora.com.