Fun outdoor things to do while visiting Hazelwood Lodge
- Ailwee Cave
- Burren Birds of Prey Centre
- Backwest Adventures
- Burren Hill Walks
- Burren National Park
- Caher Bridge Garden
- Poulnabrone Dolmen
- Caherconnell Stone Fort
- Cork Screw Hill
- Leamanagh Castle
- Doolin Cave
- Dunguaire Castle
- Gleninagh Castle and Fulacht Fiadh
- Surfing and Kayaking
1. Ailwee Cave
Hazelwood Lodge is located on a popular walking trail which circles the local landscape, taking you through hazel woods and passing the Ailwee Caves and following the base of Ailwee Mountain.
The Ailwee Cave was formed by the glacial melt waters of an early ice age. The erosive power of the waters carved out a subterranean river deep underneath Ailwee Mountain. This river has subsided since the last ice age, leaving behind one of Ireland's most stunning caves. Whether or not you have ever visited a cave before, this one is definitely worth a look for those visiting our lodge.
The local guides are very informative on the history of the Ailwee Cave and the dramatic underworld of this area will have you mesmerized - not to mention the total darkness when the lights are turned off!
The guides will accompany and inform you during your leisurely tour. The tour consists of a 30 minute stroll through the beautiful caverns – over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall which sometimes gently sprays the unsuspecting visitor! Marvel at the frozen waterfall and explore the now extinct brown bears bones (ursos arctos).
After your cave visit, climb the hillside outside for a beautiful panorama of the surrounding countryside and one of the most spectacular views of Galway Bay. Refuel on sandwiches, cheese and fudge at the restaurant and gift shop on the grounds. A variety of locally made gourmet items are also available from the award winning craft shops on site are also available.
To book a place on the Ailwee Cave http://www.aillweecave.ie/buy-ticket
2. Burren Birds of Prey Centre
Did you know that birds are essentially modern living dinosaurs? Birds are dinosaurs not just because they evolved from dinosaurs, but because they are more closely related to some of the extinct dinosaurs than those dinosaurs are to each other! So next time that someone tells you that dinosaurs are extinct, you can tell them that, actually, there are probably more species of dinosaur alive today than there were in the Mesozoic era.
So if you and the family would like to see some living dinosaurs up close and personal you cannot miss a trip to the Burren Birds Of Prey Centre. Located only a few minutes’ walk from Hazelwood Lodge, the Burren Birds Of Prey Centre has been educating and entertaining visitors with dynamic flying displays set against the dramatic Burren Landscape.
Why not book a ‘Hawk Walk’ with the centre. Set off on your adventure with your experienced falconer who will give you a background on the centre and the birds you will be taking with you. Walk along the wooded paths while holding the birds on your gloved arms. Watch the birds in action as they hunt for food in the woods and return to your guide when called. The walks typically last an hour and are an amazing chance to be close to these fascinating hunting birds and learn about their habitat.
After your walk you can take a free audio self-guided tour of the other bird enclosures in the centre. Great information to hear while looking at the birds.
Flying demonstrations are also held every two hours at the centre. Different birds fly at each demo, and in each session birds who fly to volunteers so many of the audience members (even small children!) can experience having the birds land on their gloved hands.
An amazing and interactive experience all the family can enjoy with fantastic photo opportunities!
To book a ticket for this great family day out http://www.aillweecave.ie/buy-ticket
3. Backwest Adventures
Located only a few minutes’ walk from Hazelwood Lodge, Backwest Adventures in Ballyvaughan is where you can have an amazing family caving adventure in The Burren, Co Clare. Adults and children from as young as 5 will enjoy seeing all the underground wonders of nature in a completely safe environment with an experienced guide where you can create memories that will last a lifetime!
Caving is a very family friendly activity and with over 40 years caving experience between then, Terry and Tim will bring you on a caving adventure that you and your family will never forget. Their most popular experience is aimed at novice groups and will introduce you to caves and caving through a selection of walks in wild caves where you will see amazing and unique surroundings. These novice trips take around 2-3 hours.
Advanced caving is also provided for some experienced groups and involved climbing, rope work and maybe even some swimming! Advanced caving typically takes 3-5 hours but Tim and Terry can design the trip to your needs if travelling in a group.
We recommend wearing thick socks, warm long trousers and several thin layered tops. Definitely go to bathroom beforehand, make sure to bring a complete change of clothes (even underwear!) and a big towel. The hot water in your power shower will be waiting for you on your return to Hazelwood Lodge where you can dry your clothes in our special drying room while you curl up by our log fire and talk about your day’s adventures!
Whatever journey you take you can be assured that your caving trip with Backwest Adventures will be memorable and a unique experience.
For more information about booking an amazing caving adventure during your stay with us please contact Terry or Tim at email@example.com or call +353 (0) 86 0563624.
4. Burren Hill Walks
Located a few minutes’ walk from Hazelwood Lodge in Ballyvaughan Village is where you will find the headquarters of Burren Hill Walks.
The Burren in Co Clare is world famous for its fascinating walks and landscapes. You will most likely have never seen anything like it before, unless perhaps you have been to the moon, as visitors often exclaim at the Burren’s lunar like surface!
Local guide Shane Connolly is a mine of information on the Burren and will keep you informed and entertained with his great Irish wit and charm! A native of the Burren, Shane has a diploma in Archaeology from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a diploma in Local and Regional Studies from University College Cork.
Like most of Ireland, the Burren was under a tropical ocean over 360 million years ago resulting in a layer of limestone. Later this ancient seabed was raised into a great plateau which we now know as the Burren. The Ice Age then ploughed through the region and widening the river valleys. Today the Burren contains a wealth of attractions, its scenery, geology, botany, wildlife, archaeology and history most of which are hidden and can be enjoyed with only the noise of the wind to distract the visitor.
Burren Hill Walks offer a range of options for you to choose from when planning your day trip from Hazelwood Lodge to ensure you get the most out of your tour. The options are:
- Botany & Nature Tours
Choose from a number of routes which cover many of the Burren habitats including the limestone pavements, shore line, meadows, turloughs and hazel scrublands. The tours give the visitors a chance to examine the limestone garden at its best. The tours vary in time and length and the range of habitats visited. Plants flower throughout the Summer so every walk brings its own unique surprises. Please inform the guide as to the type of flora you are interested in.
- Archaeology & History Tours
These walks examine the archaeological sites in their historical and natural settings. The Burren contains megalithic dolmens and cairns. Bronze age cooking sites, Celtic ring forts, medieval church sites and castles, ancient field systems and route ways, vernacular architecture and holy wells of the recent past. This cultural landscape is a result of the physical landscape and the history of Ireland so it leaves behind sites and an oral tradition. There are many walks to choose from, each with its own mixture of sites and content. These tours suit all age groups and time requirements.
- Tailored Walks
Shane has a number of other tours available but you can discuss what your interests are and he can suggest a route using his expert knowledge of the area. Tours and walks can be designed to meet specific interest needs, time requirements and energy levels.
As Shane himself says, there is never enough time to explore the Burren so why not discuss how you want to go about it and what you would like from your visit and remember – don’t forget your camera!
For more information or to book you Burren Hill Walk
5. Burren National Park
Only 30 minutes’ drive from Hazelwood Lodge, The Burren National Park Trail Point starts just before Gortlecka Crossroads. There are five marked walking trails in the park from this point that take you through many different fascinating and beautiful habitats, such as species rich limestone grasslands, hazel/ash woodlands and limestone pavements.
There is no car park here, but there is a lay-by just before Gortlecka Crossroads on the right - please park here. This is a public road so be careful of traffic. As there is no designated car park there are no signs to direct visitors to the National Park. An information panel shows the five way-marked walking trails and briefly describes the different habitats within the park. You can also view the colour coded trails here. (jpg image to be uploaded as link to this!).The trails traverse a limestone landscape which can be uneven and steep in places, so care must be taken. The walks vary from a short thirty minute loop walk to a three hour walk over limestone mountains.
During the summer season free guided walks are available along the trails throughout the National Park and Slieve Carran Nature Reserve covering such topics as Burren flora, fauna and geology. Guided walks can also be arranged for interested groups. All of the Burren National Park walks are entirely free but booking is required as places are limited.
For further information please contact Burren National Park on +353-65-6827693, open April to October.
6. Caher Bridge Garden
Only 20 minutes’ drive from Hazelwood Lodge, in the beautiful Caher Valley, the delightful and award winning Caher Bridge Garden was begun from scratch in 1999. Every inch of soil had to be bucketed in and the amount of work that Carl Wright, the owner, has put into this wonderful landscaped and amazing garden is phenomenal. It is no wonder that it is listed in - "The 100 Best Gardens in Ireland"!
Carl, whose passion for plants and nature is contagious, will give you a personalised tour where he recounts how the garden took shape and considering how every inch has been manually transformed, it has been done with an amazing sensitivity to the natural environment. The garden is comprised of several "rooms" and includes interesting design elements, several water features, and a large collection of unusual plants.
Ever evolving, this garden should be on every garden lovers bucket list.
Just remember to phone to make an appointment with Carl on 00353 657076225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Poulnabrone Dolmen
Located only a 10 minute drive from Hazelwood Lodge, the Poulnabrone dolmen, on the karstic limestone pavement of the Burren, is one of the most famous Irish dolmens, dating back to about 3600 BC. The name Poulnabrone literally means 'The hole of the sorrows', and this tomb is one of the most photographed megalithic monuments in Ireland, mainly due to its superb sculptured form and easy access from the road.
In 1986, during renovations on the tomb due to the collapse of the portal stone, uncremated remains were found in the chamber, its portico, and in the grykes (crevices in the limestone floor). In particular, there were the main body bones of one new-born baby, six juveniles, and 16-22 adults. Only one of the adults lived beyond 40 years, and the majority were under 30 when they died
A variety of artefacts, presumably representing grave goods, were also recovered from the burial chamber. These included a polished stone axe, two stone beads, a decorated bone pendant, a fragment of a mushroom-headed bone pin, two quartz crystals, several sherds of coarse pottery, three chert arrowheads and three chert/flint scrapers.
Surrounded by amazing views, Poulnabrone Dolmen Portal tomb is the perfect place to contemplate the fascinating history of our ancestors.
8. Caherconnell Stone Fort
Located only a 15 minute drive from Hazelwood Lodge, Caherconnell Stone Fort is a medieval, exceptionally well-preserved stone ringfort in The Burren of County Clare, Ireland. It lies about 1 km south of the Poulnabrone dolmen. The ringfort mostly dates from the early 10th to mid-12th century. Occupation deposits indicate the fort was used from around the early 10th century to the early 13th century. The later structure A with a rectangular outline was likely built between the early 15th and mid-17th century.:28
Findings indicate that the inhabitants not only consumed relatively high-status items but were also manufacturing them at the site. There seems to have been precious metal work going on and there are signs of ironworking. The relatively long use - well into modern times - is attributed to the fact that the area was not directly affected by Anglo-Norman influences but remained culturally Gaelic for a long time. Today the ringfort is open to the public. The owner runs a visitor centre with an audio visual presentation.
9. Cork Screw Hill
On the way from Hazelwood Lodge to Listoonvarna along the N67 road is what the locals call Corkscrew Hill, a famous winding road in the Burren region of Co. Clare. The road was designed as a famine relief scheme. The Famine or Great Hunger devastated Ireland between the years 1845 and 1851. On this road there is a wonderful look out point high up on the hill that overlooks Ballyvaughan and Galway Bay. The views are amazing from this point so stop off for a half an hour and take in the beautiful scenery!
10. Leamanagh Castle
A 20 minute drive from Hazelwood Lodge lies the ruins of Leamanagh Castle. It consists of a 15th-century tower house and a 17th-century mansion. The castle was originally a basic, 5-storied Irish tower house which was built circa 1480, probably by Toirdelbhach Donn MacTadhg Ó Briain, King of Thomond of theO'Brien family, one of the last of the High Kings of Ireland and a direct descendant of Brian Boru.
In 1639, Conor O'Brien married Máire ní Mahon (MacMahon). She became one of the most infamous women in Irish folklore who, due to her flaming red hair, was commonly known asMáire Rúa ("Red Mary"). Part of the tower house was demolished and replaced by a 4-storied mansion around 1648. Máire accompanied her husband on raids against English settlers. In 1651, he was mortally wounded fighting on the Royalists' side at Inchicronan (Crusheen). Reportedly, immediately after her husband's death, the widow, realizing that the punishment for his rebellion against the English would be the forfeiture of their property, drove to Limerick and offered to marry any Cromwellian officer who would take her hand.
Máire Rúa's third husband, Cornet John Cooper was a Cromwellian soldier and through this marriage she successfully retained her estates. Cooper left the army and amassed some wealth through land and property speculation. However, he later ran into financial difficulty and, as a result, Leamaneh was mortgaged. Máire Rúa's son, Donagh (later Sir Donagh) was the last of the O'Brien's to occupy the house. He subsequently moved the family seat from Leamaneh to the much-larger Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-On-Fergus, south of Ennis where his mother spent her final years. Although Máire Rúa's children from her first marriage to Daniel O'Neylan (or O’Neillan) were raised Catholic, he was brought up as a protestant and eventually became the "richest commoner in Ireland”.
Leamaneh had various occupants in subsequent years. However, the house finally fell into ruin at the end of the 18th century.
The barbican-like gates which adorned the entrance to the property were moved to Dromoland Castle in 1908 by Lord Inchiquin.
The most elegant of the fireplaces was relocated to the "Old Ground Hotel" in Ennis. Today, all that is left of the castle is the tower house and the four adjoining walls with the mullioned windows. Seeing this spectacular building and its barren surroundings gives visitors a peek of what ancient Ireland was really about.
11. Doolin Cave
Only a 20 minute drive from Hazelwood Lodge, Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite. At 7.3 metres (23feet) it is the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. The Great Stalactite, suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier, is truly astounding. Visitors can hardly believe that it was formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years.
When you arrive at the Doolin Cave, you are given a briefing by your expert guide prior to entering the caves explaining how the tour works. Once inside you go down an 80 foot shaft by a very well maintained and safe staircase, where you will be issued with a hardhat and the tour continues. Learn about how the caves were discovered and see the massive curtain stalactite which is amazing!
Open Daily 10am to 5pm with tours at 10am, 11am and every half-hour until 5pm.
Phone: +353 65 7075761
• The cave tour takes approx. 50 minutes.
• Tours every half hour in high season and hourly at other times.
• Perfect for families.
• There are 120 steps down to the cave, every 10 steps, there is a landing with seating.
• Please take your time going up and down.
• Strollers are not permitted in the cave.
• Babies and small children must be carried.
12. Dunguaire Castle
20 minutes’ drive from Hazelwood Lodge in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare lies the restored Dunguaire Castle. Dunguaire castle is one of the most visited and photographed castles in the West of Ireland, conveniently located as it is, by the roadside on the way into the picturesque, seaside village of Kinvara. It has had a curious and colourful history, having changed hands many times since it was first built in 1520, as told in the tale of Bothar na Mias. Once upon a time the High King of Connaught, Guaire was feasting with his merry men at the castle. When the hermit Saint Colman, who had been fasting for forty days up in the nearby mountains, called on God to provide him with sustenance. Miraculously, the food was seen to fly from the plates in the castle up through the air to the saint's altar in Carron.
At high tide the castle sits almost surrounded by water and is very photogenic
13. Gleninagh Castle and Fulacht Fiadh
A lovely 10 minute drive from Hazelwood Lodge in Ballyvaughan lies the sixteenth century castle – Gleninagh Castle. This castle was originally built by the O'Lochlain clan who were the chieftains in this region and who occupied it until 1840. This castle is well worth a visit as one will discover a holy well and medieval church lying in front of the castle. There is also evidence of prehistoric activity with a "fulacht fiadh" (cooking place) dating back to the Bronze Age to be found in the area.
It has a distinctive L-shaped plan comprising an oblong tower of four storeys with a projecting turret containing a spiral stair. The entrance doorway, which may have been moved from elsewhere, lies at first-floor level with a protecting machicolation high above in the turret. Striking round bartizans are present on three corners of the main tower, while an attic in its roof was contained behind gables on all four sides.
The third storey is vaulted and there is another over a dark basement, which may have been used as a prison. In the end wall a number of window embrasures were later blocked for fireplaces.
The castle was built for the O'Loughlins who were still resident in the 1840s. It remained occupied until the 1890s.
Ballyvaughan is a major sea angling port off the coast of County Claire. The most favoured marks are signposted and your host, Victor, will be delighted to point you in the right direction for the best fishing spots. Fishing tackle is available for guests use at Hazelwood Lodge, and bait can be collected locally on beaches, mud flats and rocky shoreline. Boats are available to hire locally in the summer months for those who wish to go deep sea fishing. For further information on fishing in Ballyvaughan please ask your host Victor.
What better way to get right into the heart of the Irish countryside than by bicycle. It's the ideal way to discover the true beauty and charm of the Burren and its people and you can do it at your own pace.
Enjoy the magnificent coast road on your way to Black Head and Fanore beach or cross the Burren on your way to Lisdoonvarna, Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher.
Bikes and safety equipment are available for guests use at Hazelwood Lodge and your hosts would be delighted to discuss potential cycling routes with you.
Bikes are also available for rent at
Tel: +353 (0)86-341 2875
16. Surfing and Kayaking
A 20 minute coastal drive from Hazelwood Lodge is Ballyvaughan Sea Kayaking Tours, run by Aloha Surf School who were established in 2004. All of their activities are conducted in a supportive, fun environment with an emphasis on safety and enjoyment.
On their coastal cruises they will take you in and around the incredible coastline of the Burren, where you’ll get to see the sea life underneath you, cruise alongside the seals basking on the rocks, and really get a completely unique tour of this incredible part of the world. Taking half day the Sea Kayaking tour around the Burren coastline where participants will learn the basics of Sea Kayaking, experiencing nature first hand while also learning about the local ecology.
The Sea Kayaking tours are also perfectly suited towards families. For the mums and dads there really is no age limit and all of their activities offer the perfect opportunity for the whole family to take to the water with the assistance and careful supervision of their qualified instructors.
For more information on kayaking in Ballyvaughan please contact
Phone +353 87 21 33 996
At Aloha Surf School, all of the surf lessons are conducted in a supportive, fun environment with an emphasis on safety and enjoyment. Surfing lessons are available for adults, group and individual lessons and also kids surf lessons in our 5 day Kids Camps Hardboard Intermediate Coaching Sessions and Stand Up Paddle Surf lessons are also on offer
Their Improvers course is designed for people who have their own equipment and can stand and surf in the white water. If you find yourself struggling to get past this stage and getting frustrated, then the Level 2 Intermediate Instructors will introduce a number of skills to guide you away from the white water to surfing unbroken waves.
If you’ve already done a few lessons or have some surf experience then you can rent whatever gear you need to hit the water. Rental outside of the summer months is for the day, and you will need to leave some form of ID as deposit (Drivers licence, passport etc).
For more information on surfing for your group or family while staying with us please contact Aloha Surfing school; Phone +353 87 21 33 996