Activities & Adventures!
Castle Varagh Hotel is located in the heart of Ireland’s Lake Country which is internationally renowned for angling and its rich fish stocks. The natural heritage area of Lough Derravaragh, a 2,768-acre limestone lough, is a ten-minute drive from the hotel and a key destination for trout angling, sizeable pike and coarse fish such as roach, bream, bream hybrids and tench.
Similarly, Lough Lene is a ten-minute drive from the hotel and known as a destination for fly fishing and international angling competitions. At depths to 20 metres, this stunning blue flag lough is acclaimed for its purity and clarity and is well stocked with wild trout.
Other lakes in close proximity to Castle Varagh Hotel including Lough Sheever, popular for roach, perch, tench and other coarse fish; the special protection area of Lough Ennell, known for its shallow waters, brown trout and pike and wild swans; and Lough Owel, known for brown trout but also a stunning destination for fresh water swimming with a concrete jetty leading out to diving boards.
Golf lovers will be in their element with a variety of golfing experiences available near Castle Varagh Hotel. Set in a mature wooded parkland, Mullingar Golf Club is a 20-minute drive from the hotel and features a championship challenge designed by famed Scottish golf course designer and five-times Open Champion James Braid [1870 – 1950]. The 209-yard second hole is the golf course’s signature hole and features an elevated tee and green which is acclaimed as one of the best par 3’s in Irish golf.
Mullingar Golf Academy is an ideal activity for golf enthusiasts whether the day brings rain, hail or shine. The top-quality golf range offers PGA qualified golf lessons and has putters, clubs and golf balls available on site.
Ballymore Pitch and Putt offers a great day out with family or friends and is also ideal for competitions. The mature 12-acre site offers a par 3, 18-hole championship course open all year round. Ballymore Pitch and Putt is a 45-minute drive from Castle Varagh Hotel through the scenic Westmeath countryside.
Westmeath offers some of Ireland’s most picturesque and historically significant cycling routes. The National Famine Way charts the tragic 1847 trek of Strokestown tenants who, upon being unable to pay their rent, were marched to Dublin and forced aboard coffin ships on route to America. The 165km trail commences in Strokestown and finishes in the Dublin Docklands at the famine statues. Visitors can access a free app, or an official pack and passport which is stamped at key locations along the trail culminating with a completion certificate at the emigration museum in Dublin.
Cycle the Old Rail Trail for a fascinating insight into the Ireland of yesteryear. Starting and ending the County Westmeath cultural hubs of Athlone and Mullingar, you will cycle past old station houses, stunning arched stone bridges and lush green farmland. This 43-kilometre cycle path is mostly flat with gentle slopes and is ideal for families and cyclists of all ages.
The Royal Canal Greenway is another cycle path not to be missed. The route meanders alongside the old Royal Canal some 130 kilometres from Dublin through Mullingar to Longford. This 225-year-old heritage gem is rich in wildlife, working locks and stunning landscapes, and is dotted with cafés, picnic spots and attractions along the way. With routes starting at just six kilometres to the full 130 kilometres, there is a route to suit cyclists of all ages and abilities.
If you didn’t bring your own bike, you can hire one in Mullingar which is only 20 minutes from Castle Varagh Hotel. Book a bike online at Mullingar Bike Hire or alternatively try Outdoor Escape on 044 93 35351.
Some of the most spectacular walks in the country are located in County Westmeath, so if you enjoy being immersed in nature, then you have come to the right place!
Donore Wood is only a short 10-minute drive from Castle Varagh. Located on the shores of Lough Derravaragh, Donore Wood is a short walk with wooden bridges, a mystical fairy garden and plenty of wildlife, making it ideal for young families.
The Mullaghameen state forest is the largest planted beech forest in Ireland. The forest also is home to Scots pine and noble fir alongside a number of native tree species and plenty of wildlife including grey squirrels, jays, badgers, foxes, pheasant, rabbits, hares and a variety of different birds. It features almost 23 kilometres of walking track and leads to the highest point in Westmeath which offers spectacular views across Lough Sheelin and into County Cavan. With a range of trails for varying levels of fitness, the White Trail provides a reminder of the famine with relic walls, while the Red Walk features a summer grazing shelter known as the Booley Hut.
A visit to Scragh Bog holds plenty of interest for the nature lover. As one of the rarest fen bogs in the world, Scragh Bog features an abundance of unusual plants and insects which are renowned for their rarity in Europe. A delightful, looped boardwalk includes an outdoor classroom and viewing platform to provide visitors with a complete view of this living, raised bog.
St. Feichin’s Way is just a five-minute drive from Castle Varagh Hotel in Fore. It offers a gentle, three-kilometre looped walk around the heritage village of Fore which was developed by the Anglo Normans into a chartered walled town with a Benedictine priory.
Westmeath is home to some of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in Ireland from the 17th and 18th centuries. Tullynally Castle and Gardens features 12 hectares of stunning landscaped gardens with terraced lawns, parkland, woodlands and walled gardens. The latter, dating back to the early 19th century, includes an avenue of 200-year-old Irish yews, a weathered limestone grotto and two decorative lakes. The current owners have further developed the gardens with a Chinese garden and pagoda, and a Tibetan Garden of waterfalls and streams. There are also a range of artistic woodcarvings on display made from existing roots and trees. Children will especially enjoy the Adventure Trail that leads to the lower lake.
The historic gardens at Belvedere House are a delightful treat for any avid gardener. Divided in two halves, the garden features a 19th century walled “pleasure” garden and an arboretum. Overflowing with a variety of stunning plant species, the garden features gentian blue Echinops and Fothergilla, the Decausnea Forgesis, stunning old roses, and superb Hydrangeas. Beyond the walled garden visitors can find the coppery red bark of the Thuja Pilcata (Western Red Cedar), alongside Beech, the Pyndelus Picea Smithiana (Mordina Spruce) and the Metasequoia (Dawn Red Wood). Belvedere House and Gardens are operated by Westmeath County Council and are open year-round with seasonal closing hours.