Coillte National Forest Park
Gougane Barra is Ireland’s first national park and was opened in 1964 and is a short walk from our hotel. Bring your boots,organize a picnic and go walking.
Where it all first started...
The forest park covers approximately 142 hectares of the valley floor and was planted in 1938 with Lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce and had Japanese larch, but this had to be removed due to infection in 2014, it has interesting walking trails and picnic tables.
The access to the park is free of charge for walkers. If you would prefer to take the car, there is a € 5 car entrance fee to the park (coins only).
Take the loop road around the forest park and park in one of the two car parks. This will help you decide which trails you would like to follow or where you would like to have your picnic.There are many walking trails and some of the most popular include ‘Slí Laoi’ which follows the infant river Lee from the lower car park to the head of the great coom – a distance of about 1.5 km. Another trail, called ‘Slí an Éasa’ has a magnificent waterfall and a great viewing point when you get to the top. All the trails are different and enjoyable..
The park has lots of natural vegetation with grasses such as brents and fescues, heather and ling on the drier slopes and a large collection of purple moor grasses, bog mosses and cotton grasses on the moist slopes and wet hollows. Sedges and rushes flourish well here as do fox’s cabbage, butterworths and sundews. There are a lot of rare alpine plants here.
Flora & Fauna
The valley is full of wildlife, including deer, badgers, foxes, stoats and even the shy pine marten can be seen. There is a large variety of bird species such as willow warblers, fire crests, robins, thrushes, cuckoos and wagtails in the lower valley, while the great ravens, peregrine falcons and now the white tailed sea eagle, guard the rocky crags above. In the wetlands and lake, you will find cormorants, herons, grebes, ducks, and moorhens.