Idyllic cycling routes around Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

By We Love Cycling

An area known for its quiet country roads, tranquil lakes, green valleys and small villages, the Irish Midlands can be a fantastic spot to get out on your bike. From the Old Rail Trail Greenway to a loop around Tullamore, there are a whole host of scenic cycling routes for both the biking beginner and the avid rider to explore and enjoy. Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands has much to offer, with plenty to discover for both locals and tourists alike…

Tullamore Loop

This 50km route promises the perfect introduction to the sights and sounds of Co. Offaly. Starting at the Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre (where you can immerse yourself in the world of Irish whiskey, if that’s your idea of a pre-workout!), this loop will take you along the Grand Canal Greenway and on to the beautiful village of Pollagh, where the nearby Tarraun Nature Reserve makes for a peaceful pit stop.

This route also passes through the country trails surrounding Lough Boora, where an onsite discovery park features a fairy trail and walking routes for all of the family to enjoy. Keep an eye out for the wild Grey Partridge, a native game bird that’s endangered, yet can often be spotted around the lush surrounds of the park. The final section of the route will see you cycle back towards Tullamore via Rahan, completing your loop in style.

Old Rail Trail Greenway

With a whole host of routes which are suitable for all ages and difficulties, the 42km Old Rail Trail Greenway follows the historic Midlands Great Western Railway trail through the landscape of Co. Westmeath.

The mostly flat stretch between Athlone and Moate is a great option for those new to the world of cycling, a 14.5km leg which passes through the terrain of Crosswood Bog, a Special Area of Conversation. The en route Dún na Sí Heritage Park is ideal for a rest break; a history-meets-nature amenity offering lots of recreational activities. Your final destination, Moate, is a hidden gem with a wide variety of pubs and cafes, accommodation, and the Tuar Ard Arts Centre.

If you’re feeling prepared for a longer ride, you can continue on towards Castletown and Mullingar, a sheltered route which is surrounded by trees and nature. Mullingar is a traditional market town and marks the end of the greenway in wholly welcoming fashion.

Corlea Trackway to Longford Town

It’s important to note that the original Corlea Trackway, a 2,200 year old oak timber path preserved in the bog, will not be forming part of this short and sweet route! Instead, your starting point at the Visitor Centre allows you to view an 18m long stretch of the original Iron Age causeway; from there, you can get pedalling on something a little more suitable…

Cycle north towards Stonepark, where the picturesque country roads are a breath of fresh air, and it’s just a 15km jaunt to the bustling county town of Longford, the home of St. Mel’s Cathedral, an architectural gem with its limestone features and intrinsic artwork.

The National Famine Way

A truly immersive experience, the National Famine Way in Co. Roscommon allows you to learn even more about one of our most important periods in history. Start your route at Strokestown Park, where the Palladian mansion and glorious gardens are a true delight. Strokestown is also home to the National Famine Museum, where interactive displays and exhibits tell the story of the darkest days in Irish history.

Follow the route from the house towards the River Shannon at Termonbarry, an 18km stretch which brings you to the harbour. You’re also close to Lough Ree, a picturesque lake which is the second largest of the three main lakes on the Shannon.

Planning a trip to Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands? Visit Discover Ireland for all the recommended things to do and places to see. 

Check out our guide on the brand new cycling experience at Slieve Bloom for more inspiration on how you can make the most out of your cycling adventures in the Midlands.