Brittas LoopBrittas Forest Recreation Area, Clonaslee, Co. Laois.
Situated close to the geographical centre of Ireland, the Slieve Bloom region links the counties of Laois and Offaly and is made up of forests, blanket bog, and hidden valleys which will be of interest to lovers of archaeology and nature. Clonaslee is a village in north County Laois– nestled into the foothills of the Slieve Bloom mountains. In the Gaelic language the name Clonaslee means ‘way meadow’ – the way referred to was once an important cross-country route. The village is a very pretty one – thanks in the main to the pride and passion of the local community to attract tourism into this rural area. And the friendly disposition of the ‘natives’ means that the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Local attractions include BrittasLake, Brittas Castle (which is currently being renovated by a private owner), and a range of walking routes with some beautiful scenery to suit all levels of fitness. This loop starts at the entrance to Brittas Woods – adjacent to the village. The first section of the walk follows the tranquil River Clodiagh through mature stands of Douglas fir. The second section takes you into BrittasForestand passes close to the secluded BrittasLake- a very popular spot for picnics and quiet relaxation.
A-B. From the trailhead, enter the Forest Recreation Area through the barrier. Follow the arrows on the light blue disc with footprints along the right bank of the Clodiagh River for 200m to reach a wooden footbridge. Here the loop joins with the long-distance Slieve Bloom Way(denoted by the familiar yellow walking man and arrows). Do not cross the footbridge – continue straight.
B-C. Continue to follow the arrows on the light blue discs (and the yellow Slieve Bloom arrows) along the right bank of the Clodiagh River- passing another wooden footbridge and a series of stiles and gateways. After 3km the loop leaves the riverbank, ascends a hill and exits the forestry onto a ‘green’ farm track. 300m later the loop joins a surfaced roadway. The Slieve Bloom Way (yellow arrows) turns left here – you turn right and, almost immediately, turn left into woodland.
C-D. Now the loop follows a woodland path through the northern section of BrittasForest. Soon the loop joins quiet forest roads through mature broadleaf forests and young coniferous plantations. As the village comes into view watch for a left turn through a wooden gateway – which takes you by Coillte’s Regional Offices to emerge on the public footpath. Turn right here.
D-A. Follow the footpath back into the village and turn right at the bridge for the last 200m back to the trailhead.
Minimum Gear: Trekking shoes, raingear and fluid
Services: Clonaslee Village
Terrain: Forestry roads, riverbank tracks, woodland paths
Trailhead: Entrance to Brittas Forest Recreation Area, Clonaslee, Co. Laois. OS Sheet 54, N 317 109