Castlecomer - Ardra Castle Loop
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The Discovery Park, Castlecomer, Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland
The loop starts at the visitors car park at the Discovery Park in Castlecomer Demesne just 1km north of Castlecomer.
A-B. The loop starts at the visitors car park at the Discovery Park in Castlecomer Demesne just 1km north of Castlecomer. From the mapboard following the purple arrow (and the yellow, green and red arrows which are for shorter loops) along the sandy roadway – keeping the high stone wall on your right. Walk for 100m to reach a barrier – pass through it and immediately veer left at a Y-junction.
B-C. Continue to follow the sandy roadway for 200m to reach a 3-way junction where the yellow and green loops turn right. You proceed straight here following the purple (and red) arrows. Continue to follow the sandy roadway for 600m to reach a bend - watch out for the marker on your right which directs you right and onto a narrow woodland track. (Note that the red loop proceeds straight here). After 100m, you reach the shore of the upper lake - turn right.
C-D. Approximately 100m later, veer right at a Y-junction and follow the sandy path to a T-junction with a sandy roadway where you turn left and cross to the other side of the lake. At the first marker the yellow loop turns right - you stay on the lakeshore - following the purple (and green) arrow. At the end of the lake watch for a marker post on the right which directs you onto a woodland track - follow the track past the rock waterfall and ascend to reach a sand roadway. The green loop turns right here - but you turn left.
D-E. After 50m reach a sharp left bend - you continue straight and join a ‘green’ woodland path which takes you by the ruins of Ardra Castle and through a section of broadleaf woodland to exit at a metal gate/stile. Cross the stile, and join a sandy roadway for 100m to another stile/gate where you turn right onto a forestry roadway. Stay on this roadway for 600m to reach a crossroads - turn right here and travel a short distance to reach a picnic area and viewing point where you rejoin the red loop and turn left.
E-A. Stay on the forestry roadway for 400m to reach a 3-way junction where the yellow and green loops join from the left. Continue straight to reach the metal barrier - turn left and it’s only 100m back to the car park.
The demesne comprises a number of elements including privately owned Visitors Centre, Local Authority owned playground, and Coillte owned forestry. Major development has taken place in recent years and it now offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for all ages. This includes a superb Visitors Centre, Footprints in Coal exhibition, children’s playground, fishing on the wonderfully restored leisure lakes, and walking on a choice of waymarked walking loops which include the 1.5km Ladies Walk, the Arboretum Walk (2km), the Captain’s Walk (4km) and this loop. This loop overlaps and incorporates the best elements of the previous three trails - and takes the walker off-route to include some more of the expansive broadleaf forestry and visit the ruins of Ardra Castle.