The majestic Balrath Woods is home to one of my favourite walks in Meath.
Just a 2-minute drive off the N2 at Balrath Cross, the brilliant Balrath Woods is a nature lover’s paradise.
No matter the time of year, Balrath Woods is bound to impress with its broadleaf woodland, forest animals, and tuneful birdsong that fills the trails.
Below, you’ll find info on the various Balrath Woods walks, where to grab parking and what to see nearby when you’ve finished up.
Some quick need-to-know about Balrath Woods
Although a visit to Balrath Woods is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Balrath Woods is located off the major N2 route and approximately 10kms south of Slane. It’s a 20-minute drive from Navan, a 25-minute drive from Trim and a 30-minute drive from Drogheda.
From what we can tell, the Balrath Woods car park opens from 09:00. In the summer, gates close at 20:00 while in the winter they shut at 17:00. Within the car park is a small forest playground and forest information shelter with details on the woodland and its walks.
3. Three trails to tackle
Each Balrath Woods walks take in different aspects of the woods and range in both difficulty and duration. There’s even a designated accessible walk for those with limited mobility or wheelchairs (info on the trails below)
4. Play areas
There are four designated play areas within Balrath Woods, and they’re bound to please young adventurers. With the ‘shaky bridge’ accessed via the wheelchair path, and before the pond, or the swing that’s suitable for children with disabilities, Balrath Woods is fun for everyone!
5. It gets muddy
Yep, after rainfall, Balrath Woods can be very muddy, so it’s worth packing a pair of walking shoes or a spare pair of trainers if you plan on visiting.
About Balrath Woods in Meath
Balrath Woods is located near Burtonstown and Balrath, in County Meath and it was once part of the Somerville Estate – a much larger area, and a great example of mixed woodland.
The woodland has also been known as ‘Knockcomra Woods’, taking the name from nearby Burtonstown’s former name, Knockcomra.
The woods currently sit at over 50 acres and were heavily replanted in 1969 with a wide variety of species including oak, beech, spruce and ash.
Interspersed are horse chestnuts, grand firs, hazels and alders, birches and Spanish chestnuts, and willows around the wetter areas.
A haven for birds and wildlife
As the trees grew and the forest matured, the woodland has become home to an impressive variety of birds and animals. Wildlife residents include grey squirrels, hedgehogs and pygmy shrews, badgers and foxes, and both hares and rabbits.
You may even spot bats in the evenings or early mornings. When it comes to bird watching, Balrath doesn’t disappoint as you can regularly see songbirds like chaffinches, robins, and wrens along with most of the tit family.
Ireland’s smallest bird, the goldcrest, also calls Balrath home, along with willow warbler, bullfinch, blackcap and whitethroat. Birds of prey have also been seen hovering in the area.
Sights and sounds to awaken the senses
Apart from the broadleaf species that are most common throughout this woodland, you can also spot other species like holly, hazel, ash, wychelm and aspen. The forest is also home to species of lichens and mosses, fungi, and creepers like ivy.
During springtime, Balrath Woods is home to a floral display not to be missed. With vivid bluebells and dog violets, bright yellow celandine and wood avens or buttercups, and not forgetting delicate primrose and scarlet pimpernels.
The Balrath Woods Walks
One of the reasons that a visit to Balrath Woods is one of the more popular things to do in Meath is due to the variety of walks on offer, as you’ll discover below.
The Long Walk
The longest walk through the woods is aptly called the ‘Long Walk’. The circuit is marked by white signs and completes a loose circle around the outside of the woodland.
The walk takes approximately 30-minutes if completed quickly, however you can stretch out the time while observing the different trees and wildlife species.
Set off from the car park following the main entrance, and turn right into the woods to continue following the path around.
The Nature Walk
When replanting Balrath Woods, careful attention was taken to ensure the area could be used for educational purposes. As such, the Nature Walk has been created to highlight the woodland’s best features to school learners.
There are several numbered markers along the route, and classroom notes can be obtained via a link on the Balrath Woods and Tree Council websites to accompany the route.
To access the ‘Blue’ Nature Walk, follow the signed entrance to the woodland walks, and turn right. In the beginning, the route will follow the same path as the ‘White’ Long Walk, however, it will turn off after approximately the halfway point.
The Easy Walk
The ‘Yellow’ signed Easy Walk is a gentle and sedate ramble through some of Balrath Woods most pleasant surrounds.
Follow the yellow waymarkers and you’ll go past the wetland area – watch out for dragonflies and other insects – and back past the shaky bridge, accessible swing, and ‘play ponies’.
The Easy Walk is recommended for those with limited mobility, wheelchairs, or buggies with infants as it’s easily within reach of the car park, and the terrain is considered to be level and easily traversed.
Things to do near Balrath Woods
One of the beauties of Balrath Woods is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Meath.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Balrath Woods (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Tayto Park (15-minute drive)
Only a short drive from Balrath, Tayto Park is a huge theme park that offers attractions from zoos with petting areas and farmyard fun to roller coasters and a 5D cinema. It’s Ireland’s only theme park and has activities to entertain the whole family.
2. Slane Castle (15-minute drive)
Home to the Conyngham family for 300 years, and their 1,500-acre estate, Slane Castle is well known for its concerts, but also for its whiskey produced at Slane Irish Whiskey Distillery! Make sure to visit the Hill of Slane and Slane village while you’re there.
3. Trim (22-minute drive)
Situated on the River Boyne, the medieval Trim town is noted for Trim Castle, the largest Cambro-Norman castle in Ireland. There’s plenty of things to do in Trim and there’s lots of pubs and restaurants in Trim, too!
4. Brú na Bóinne (23-minute drive)
Brú na Bóinne is a mega-complex of three Neolithic passage tombs; Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. This site is of major historical and archaeological significance and covers a whopping 780 hectares at its core.
FAQs about visiting Balrath Woods in Meath
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you park?’ to ‘What are the trails like?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Balrath Woods worth visiting?
Yes! Balrath Woods is the perfect destination for walkers looking for a ramble with a difference. The woods are stunning and there are several trails to try.
What’s parking at Balrath like?
The car park here is fairly small, which means it can get busy at the weekends. However, visit early/off-peak and you’ll be fine.
Katherine is an food and travel writer with family-roots in Ireland. She enjoys hitting the road at every given opportunity, and can often be found with an atlas and notebook to hand planning the next big trip.