Situated close to the geographical centre of Ireland, the Slieve Bloom region links the counties of Laois and Offaly and is made up of forests, blanket bog of a type which is unique to Ireland, and hidden valleys which will be of interest to lovers of archaeology and nature. In 2007, a series of looped walks were developed at various trailheads in the region following a mix of forest tracks, riverbanks, old roadways, and grassy trails. There are a few rough and rugged sections - but they rarely rise to high altitude and do not demand great stamina. This loop is one of three which start and finish at the Kinnitty Forest trailhead - key features include the grounds of Kinnitty Castle (now a hotel), the ruins of Glinsk Castle, and spectacular broadleaf woodlands.
A-B. Start from the trailhead at the forestry entrance. After 30m keep left at the Y-junction of forestry roads following the blue arrow. You are also following a green arrow for the shorter Kinnitty Castle Loop and yellow arrow for the long-distance Slieve Bloom Way. After a little more than 1km you reach a 3-way junction with a wooden gate on your left. Through the wooden gate will take you into the grounds of Kinnitty Castle – well worth a visit.
B-C. Your loop turns right here, and continues to ascend along a forest road for almost 1km before rounding a right bend and reaching a Y-junction. Veer to the right here.
C-D. After 500m turn left onto an uphill woodland trail – the shorter green loop continues straight on here. You follow the blue arrow and the Slieve Bloom Way.
D-E. This path takes you through mature woodlands to exit on a forestry road where you turn right. About 200m afterwards you turn left at a 3-way junction and, almost immediately, veer left again at another junction. You are still also on the Slieve Bloom Way.
E-F. Climb the hill and, after 500m take a right at a junction. After 600m you leave the Slieve Bloom Way - taking a right turn onto a faint woodland trail to the ruins of Glinsk Castle (stone pillars and walls).
F-G. Follow the trail through the pillars, over the brow of the hill, and downhill through trees to join a forest road. Turn right here and after 200m turn left onto a downhill forestry track. The forestry trail merges with a forestry road where you rejoin the Slieve Bloom Way – turn right and follow the road around a corner to reach a woodland track where you turn left.
G-A. Enjoy the downhill journey through magnificent mature trees to exit onto a forestry road - the trailhead is only 50m on your left.