Getting outside and amongst nature doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work up a sweat as well. Sometimes there’s as much benefit to your health and wellbeing just by soaking in the atmosphere - something that the Japanese refer to as Shinrin-yoku or ‘Forest Bathing'.
So much of this island is covered in thick forest and has served as inspiration for so many people (sidenote: our forest green hoodies are inspired Ireland's '40 shades of green').
We’ve picked some glorious spots across Ireland where you can unplug, unwind, recharge and get back to nature.
Glenshelane Forest Trails, Co. Waterford
Originally an oak forest, Glenshelane is now predominantly Norwegian spruce with a bit of holly & hazel thrown in for good measure. The woodland is intersected by the Glenshelane River, and the forest floor is carpeted in bluebells during April -May, so expect a whole lotta babbling-brook-Disney-style tranquility here. There are three marked paths to choose from and a dedicated picnic spot for some full-belly forest-bathing!
Portumna Forest Park, Co. Galway
Resting at the northern side of Lough Derg, Portumna Forest Park is almost 600 acres of woodland, open space, lake and islands. The flora here is varied with a range of coniferous and broadleaf tree species: expect to see ancient oaks, North American evergreens, Canadian Maples as well as native Irish Yew and Juniper. Unwind and choose from the forest road, long walk and nature trail options, and keep an eye out for the forest’s resident herd of fallow deer!
Deerpark Forest Walk, Co. Cavan
Just on the edge of Virginia township and overlooking Lough Ramor, Deerpark Forest Walk is a woodland wanderer’s paradise. The circular Virginia Slí na Sláinte trail is a must, in order to really squeeze the most out of your foray into forest bathing. Meander along the banks of Lough Ramor and feel the weight of city life start to lift!
Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry
Between Killarney & Muckross Houses and Gardens, a plethora of walking trails winding through the grounds and a diverse mix of flora & fauna, there is bound to be something in Killarney National Park to get you feeling invigorated again. The park is accessible all day (24hours) and all year round. But if it’s the House & Gardens you’re after, stick between the hours of 9am - 5.30pm daily.
Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim
Also known as the ‘Queen of the Glens’, Glenariff Forest Park is 1000+ hectares of woodland wonderland. With 5 different wooded trails (one of which involves a waterfall - hello, serenity) you can be sure to find an option that will get you back to zen in no time. If you are in need of an intensive and extended Shinrin-yoku experience, you can even stay overnight in the park provided you BYO recreational vehicle!
Tomnafinnoge Woods, Co. Wicklow
A few miles outside the village of Tinahely, the Tomnafinnoge Woods is a Special Area of Conservation that has a significant place in Irish history. The woodlands used to cover thousands of acres but since the 1600s they were exploited for timber, used in the construction of architectural sites including Westminster Abbey and Trinity College. The woods are now protected and include several ambling loop walks and for those ornithologists out there, this is one of the best places in Ireland to catch a glimpse of the Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down
Take a wander amongst some of the oldest trees on the island of Ireland, soak in an incredible hedge maze and take in picturesque views of the Mourne Mountains. Set along the banks of Castlewellan Lake, the Forest Park has 12km of forest trail, a landscaped Victorian garden, and an exceptional arboretum all waiting to take you from chaos to calm in a matter of minutes.
Clonbur Wood, Co. Galway
On the Galway side of the Mayo-Galway border is Clonbur Wood and the stunning loop walk inside. Amble alongside rivers and castles and soak in the views of Lough Mask to the north. This forest walk will have you sidling up to towering beech, ash, hazel, Scots pine and larch and is a breathtaking way to spend a couple of hours on your weekend.
Rostrevor Forest, Co. Down
Located in the Mourne Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty, the Rostrevor Oakwood (part of the Rostrevor Forest) is about 40 acres of oak trees that top 250 years old. The area is now designated a Special Area of Conservation and you can wander to your heart’s content year-round. If you’ve had your fill of quietude, don’t forget that you can also try your hand at mountain biking here too!