The Girley Bog Walk should tickle the fancy of those of you in search of walks in Meath with a difference.
Now, if you’re not from Ireland, walking in a ‘bog’ may sound a bit alien to you, and that’s understandable. However, the Girley Bog and its walk are far more impressive than you’d think!
The walk, which is just under 6km in length should take you the guts of an hour to complete (however, allow 1.5 hours at a slower pace).
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and the trail to where to visit nearby.
Some quick need-to-know before you visit the Girley Bog Walk
So, a visit to the Girley Bog isn’t always that straightforward, as it can be hard to tell which way to go, at times. You’ll find some handy need-to-knows below!
The Girley Bog is located southwest of Kells, around a 13-minute drive from the town centre. The bog and its nature walk are best approached from the closest car park, near Drewstown. As the name suggests, it is a damp environment, so hiking boots are recommended.
So, there are several places to park around the Girley Bog. However, if you’re following the trail on the map below, aim for the car park at the forest entrance (here on Google Maps).
Completing the Girley Bog Walk loop will take between 1 – 2 hours, depending on pace and fitness level. The walk itself is 5.6km and is way marked along the entirety. The terrain is level, and there are uneven patches, so suitable footwear is recommended.
Thanks to the flat surface the trail follows, the Girley Bog Eco Walk is ideal for those not seeking a super physically challenging activity. Although there are uneven surfaces and it is rated as ‘moderate’, the raised walking platforms and pathways are easily navigable.
5. Trail issues
We’ve heard from a few people recently (first time visitors to this bog) that have said that they had trouble navigating the trail. It’s worth having the map below on hand when you arrive.
An overview of the Girley Bog Walk
The Girley Bog is what’s known as a ‘raised bog’. Raised bogs are some of the earth’s oldest living near-natural eco-systems, with many dating back from over 10,000 years.
The Girley Bog has been an archaeological site, revealing its treasures gathered over the millennia. Now, deemed a Special Area of Conservation, it is home to a variety of birds, plants, and wildlife.
What to expect
The walk stretches out over a loop of 5.6kms/3.5mi and is a way marked National Loop. Covering a variety of landscapes, from forest to bogland, it offers an ever-changing view as you proceed along its pathways.
Much of the walk is edged by bog that has been ‘cut over’, where you’ll see evidence of the past; cutting peat to burn during the winter for heating. As the peat is removed, bracken and other scrub species replace the void.
Plants and wildlife galore
Slowly over time, this creates another new landscape, which in turn becomes home to a variety of birds, some migratory, and a breeding ground for others. You can see Willow Warblers, Chiff-Chaffs, and Blackcaps in these areas.
Most notable is of course the heather, and the cross-leaved heath in wetter places. However, you can also spot Hare’s-tail Cottongrass, cranberry and bog rosemary, and bog mosses. There are of course many other plants, and many have connections to the human habitation that took place nearby.
The walk itself
Kick-start the Girley Bog Walk from the car park. From here, you’ll enter a Coillte managed forest. for a little bit. After the forest, you’ll follow a weathered forest track before finally entering the Girley Bog itself.
Keep going and you’ll eventually come to some country lanes before looping back to the car park.
Things to see near the Girley Bog Walk
One of the beauties of the Girley Bog 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 Girley Bog (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Causey Farm (8-minute drive)
Causey Farm is a 300-acre farm which is the home to the once-mighty Murtagh family. With their ancestors hailing from the Kings of Meath, this family farm is now open to the public for team building, hen parties, and an entertaining array of events throughout the year.
2. Kells Round Tower (10-minute drive)
The Kells Round Tower was built to call parishioners and monks alike to service; it also formed part of the defences of Kells for hundreds of years. Along with the five High Crosses of Kells, it forms part of the Kells Abbey where the Book of Kells was created.
3. The Spire of Lloyd (11-minute drive)
Built in the 18th century as a means of keeping the local workforce employed, The Spire of Lloyd towers over its nearby landscape and has become a symbol of wealth and power, and just a bit of mystery to boot. Don’t miss the People’s Park and the nearby Pauper’s Graveyard with their own historic tales.
4. Loughcrew Cairns (20-minute drive)
Constructed around the same time as Stonehenge, Loughcrew Cairns has been a monument of life, death, and all points in between since approximately 3000 BC. With stunning examples of Neolithic art, it’s a unique spot to take in the sunrise or sunset at Equinox.
FAQs about the Girley Bog
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you park?’ to ‘How tough is the trail?’.
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.
How long does the Girley Bog walk take?
The main trail here will take you between 1 and 1.5 hours to complete, depending on pace (we’ve heard of some finishing it in 45 minutes, too).
Where do you park for the Girley Bog walk?
So, there are several places to park here, however, the main parking area is at the forest entrance (see the map above).
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.