First of all im sure your asking; Why County Cavan ?
When we think of life changing Irish adventures our minds automatically veer towards places like Skellig Mountain in County Kerry or The Giants Causeway in The North of Ireland. I have come to realise that every County in Ireland is incredibly charming, each with something special to offer. I’m yet to be disappointed. As an Irish gal there could be some bias to my opinion. Cavan had one big calling ‘The Stairway to Heaven‘ also known as The Culcaigh Mountain Trail. I was so pleased to discover more than just the famous boardwalk trail during my short trip to County Cavan.
Culcaigh Mountain Trail also known as ‘The Stairway to Heaven‘; was the major pull to County Cavan. I have a bucket list (a very long one) of different Irish experiences I want to complete sooner rather than later. After seeing so many incredible photo’s on Instagram of The Stairway to Heaven, I found myself planning to take on the famous hike to celebrate Valientes Day.
Here is what you need to know about climbing Culcaigh Mountain.
– Roughly 2 hours & 20 minutes from Dublin
– Easy to find
– Located on the border of County Cavan & County Fermanagh
– Paid parking on site ( €6 entry / Only cash excepted / Both £/€ excepted ) After paying the security on entering the carpark, you will be given the option to park there or go further ahead to the next carpark. Make sure to continue to the further car park. Its a small dusty road, for which you will think you went wrong but trust me, park there !!
– Make sure to bring snacks and get a good breakfast or lunch before starting.
– Also make sure to have multi weather clothing, especially waterproofs and a good hat.
– The hike will take roughly 3 to 4 hours altogether to complete.
– We were convinced we took the wrong path as the majority of the trail is a dirt road, the boardwalk doesn’t start for quite some time and the wind is a real challenge.
Here’s a major truth bomb !
I SHOULD HAVE WAITED FOR SPRING OR SUMMER.
We had already previously booked and organised our trip to County Cavan with the intention of taking on this hike, unfortunately Storm Jorge was raging the previous two days. This massively impacted our outdoor plans for the day. We thought we would do our best to take on the hike regardless and with a bit of luck the sun would shine. Unfortunately the conditions were fairly brutal. VERY WET, VERY COLD AND WIND THAT WOULD RIP YOUR EYEBROWS FROM YOUR FACE.
I will hold my hands up and say our biggest mistake was not being prepared with enough food and water proof clothing. I have done my fair share of hikes and I should have known better, LOL.
We eventually made it to the boardwalk and made the tough decision shortly after to turn around. This decision was mostly as a result of the snow and hailstones setting in. A tough call but the right call.
It is my intention to return this summer of 2020 to finish The Stairway to Heaven. The views were incredible and I feel even more motivated now to finish it !
Please make sure to follow Alex here on Instagram who helped me capture these incredible images of Culcaigh Mountain. His photography can be found on the link here >>> https://www.instagram.com/notalexhermann/?hl=en
Where did we stay ? The Slieve Russell Hotel Golf & Country Club ….
Located in Cranahan, Ballyconnell in County Cavan. Roughly 90 minutes from Dublin, taking the M3 Motorway. The perfect stop off hotel for those taking on the wonderful Culcaigh Mountain Trail. https://www.slieverussell.ie
The Slieve Russell was a lovely base for our County Cavan trip, as it’s located right in between Dublin and Culcaigh Mountain. The hotel was extremely comfortable, especially as we had a huge room to recover in, with a beautiful view overlooking their impressive golf course.
I was so delighted to grab one of their special offers which included – Bed & Breakfast for one night including dinner and spa experience. You can find some of The Slieve Russell Hotel deals on their website above.
Dinner at The Slieve Russell was one of the trip gems. Another hotel that really impressed me with their menu dedicated to Vegetarian’s, that also have options for Vegans too. Check out the photos below to see what I selected;
- Starter – Chilled Charentais Melon Pearls
- Mains – Spiced Nut Roast with Caramelised Shallot & Merlot Gravy
- Dessert – Chocolate & Cherry Meringue
Ciúin Spa at Slieve Russell Hotel
I really don’t know what we would have done had we not booked into Ciúin Spa. The weather may have ruined our plans to take on Culcaigh Mountain but it did not sour our valentine’s fun. We spent the rest of our day soaking up The Hydrotherapy Suite, which included a herb sauna, salt grotto, foot spa and more. We topped it off with a luxurious back and shoulder massage. https://www.slieverussell.ie/ciuin-spa.php This was certainly one of the trip highlights
Drumlane Abbey & Round Tower
We took thirty minutes to swing by this epic Irish site which also looked over one of Cavan’s endless lakes called Grafinny Lough. We dropped by this destination on the route home and its a very close drive from the hotel (which was great)
Cavan is filled with lots of fun things to do and the list is endless. Our challenge was a lack of time and difficult weather. Here’s my top list in order of ideas in Cavan for those visiting the county;
- The Stairway to Heaven / Culcaigh Mountain
- Dinner at The Slieve Russell Hotel, Cavan
- Kayak across to Cloughoughter Castle
- Cavan Burren Park
- Gartlan’s Traditional Thatched Pub
- Marble Arch Geopark & Cave
For more fun things to do in Cavan follow the link here to Visit Cavan’s Official Website https://www.thisiscavan.ie/fun
One of the other gleaming jewels of County Cavan is its numerous lakes, scattered across the county. 365 lakes to be precise. What’s even more interesting is that these lakes were shaped by the planets last ice age.