Coillte, Ireland's national forestry company, is encouraging people to take to the great outdoors during the holiday season and make use of the extensive Coillte forest parks and trail networks across Donegal.

Donegal has over 20 walking trails which make up some of the 2,000km of walking trails, 150 recreation sites, 12 forest parks, and 5 Coillte mountain bike trails that Coillte manages nationally, meaning there is something for everyone to enjoy and stay active.

Bill Murphy, Coillte Head of Recreation, Environment and Public Goods said, “At this time of year the forests can be quite magical. We hope the public will take advantage of the great outdoors over the Christmas period, explore native wildlife and enjoy some of Coillte's many recreation sites around the country.”

Coillte is Ireland's largest provider of outdoor recreation and provides great opportunities for walking, hiking, mountain horse riding, and nature watching.

“Whether you're planning a family day out, or looking for somewhere pleasant to walk off the Christmas excess Coillte Forests are great places to explore by foot or by bike,” said Bill Murphy, “For something more physically demanding there are many mountain bike trails through the forest to enjoy including the Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails, one of the most exciting and extensive bike trails in Europe.

“Don't forget to wrap up warm and be prepared for the cold! Bring a warm drink and a snack and let someone know where you're going.”

For full information on tracks, trails, forest parks, and recreation sites located nearby, as well as information on wheelchair and buggy accessibility, see http://www.coillteoutdoors.ie

Coillte Forest Parks in Donegal:

Ard Forest Park, Co. Donegal - Ards Forest Park is situated 5km north of Cresslough on the N56. There are several walking trails, including the Binngorm trail, the Salt Marsh trail, and the Sand Dune trail, which offers great views out across to the sea.

Ballykeeran, Co. Donegal - This site is in a forested area alongside the N56 which is the gateway to west Donegal. This area of Co. Donegal has strong historical connections with the O'Donnell chieftains. It was on Doon Rock, which is in the Kilmacrenan area, that the inaugaration of the O'Donnell chieftains took place, the last such cemetery occurred in 1603. This area of Donegal is also of religious significance as it was in nearby Gartan where St. Colmcille was born.

Drumboe, Co. Donegal - At any time of the year, this small wood provides several very pleasant hour long rambles. In Drumboe, you can view displays of bluebells in spring, watch the leaf colour change in autumn, enjoy an early morning stroll in summer or the winter sun stream through the bare branches. There are three short trails way marked in the wood; the nature trail, the Multi Access Trail and the Drumboe Loop Trail.

Drummonaghan, Co. Donegal - The site provides a pleasant walk through both coniferous and broadleaf plantations. Along the way there are seats and picnic tables strategically placed at viewing points. Trees which can be seen include hazel, ash, oak along with Scots pine and Sitka spruce.

Woodquarter, Co. Donegal - This site is in a part of Donegal which includes some of the most scenic areas of the county. It is on the western shore of Mulroy bay which is particularly picturesque. Mulroy bay is a long and narrow inlet and is a leading centre for aquaculture. Historically, this area is infamous as the site of the murder of the local landlord, Lord Leitrim in April 1878.

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