When you’re thinking of somewhere to bring the kids on a daytrip a derelict stately home isn’t the first place that would spring to mind, yet here’s another Sunday Adventure based in one. (This one is a favourite too)
We’ve visited Altamont Gardens, between Bunclody and Ballon in Co. Carlow since the kids were very small. It’s about 40 minutes from us in Gorey, perfect napping time for tired small people.
It’s not somewhere that you’d expect the kids to love, but with our younger ones declared it – “Brilliant, Altamont is really adventurey and explorey”. And that’s why we go back through the year.
The official blurb will tell you about the formal and informal gardens, the plant nursery on site and the opening hours, what it won’t tell you is the following:
There are resident peacocks, ducks and swans, which make for great “hunting” (in a nice way)
There are both “hidey trees” and “climby trees”
There are lots of bridges, and you MUST check for trolls every time you cross over one
There are rocks shaped like cartoon characters
There is room to run
There are waterfalls
There are two walks that we take, the short walk around the lake if we are very tired, a child is very cranky or the “river walk” is closed and the aforementioned river walk.
The gardens are set around a derelict house, and are beautifully maintained and stunning in every season, Altamont hosting “snowdrop week” “bluebell week” etc during the year.
The scientific labels are on lots of the plants and trees, so it can be educational if that’s what you’re after.
The practical stuff
Admission is free but there’s a car park charge been introduced recently of €2 pay and display.
The lake route is buggy (even stroller) friendly.
The river route is not (but that hasn’t stopped us in the past – you have to lift the buggy down a lot of steps to get to the river, and over a few streams (!) but we have done it a few times. You don’t need to carry it up steps as there’s a (very steep) hill that brings you back up. Come to think of it you could find that hill on the way down but you’d miss all the magical waterfalls and lots of the very explorey places, and you wouldn’t want that.
There are good toilet facilities on site, and picnic tables. There’s a cafe in the walled garden open Wednesday – Sunday, you’ll get drinks and snacks. http://www.theoldyard.ie/Altamont-Gardens For a more substantial meal check out the Forge for a good homecooked meal or Rathwood for a carvery, a salad and some amazing cake.
Altamont Gardens is located on a side road just off the main Bunclody – Carlow road (N80) not far from Ballon.
For more information visit http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-east/altamontgardens/