I’m literally in the door and I’ve just put the kids down for a nap. My hands are still icy, my nose has no feeling, but I’m buzzing. Why?, because I have just had such a memorable morning with my boys. We have just returned from our first ever family day out to Ardgillan Castle, and in a nutshell it was fantastic.
Sunday mornings are our ‘Adventure’ mornings. It’s gotten to the point where my darling husband now rolls over at 6.30am and asks where we’re going today. No pressure then. I scoured the internet this morning looking for places with Sunday opening hours that compliment our nap schedule (we dare not mess with the naps!). Eventually I came upon the Ardgillan Castle website. I saw a playground and fairy trail and by the time I had confirmed there was cake I had the kids in the car.
Located in North County Dublin less than a half hour from the city centre, Ardgillan Castle in easy to access via the M1 and is well worth the half hour jaunt in the car. The first pleasant surprise when we arrived to the car park was the expansive sea view and elevated perspective of Skerries. The Demesne is absolutely huge. We set off through a beautiful woodland trail in search of the playground to wear the tiny humans out sufficiently. It was a bit of a stroll to the playground from the car park (albeit a really nice stroll), so if you have a toddler who tires easily make sure you lug the buggy along.
Things to See
The playground itself is fantastic. It’s themed to perfection to tie in with the nautical/castle surroundings. The views of the Irish Sea are breathtaking. That said, wrap up warm because the sea breeze will cut through you on a windy winters morning! There are swings, slides, climbing frames, zip lines, the works. One of the nicest playgrounds I have spent time in in the Dublin area, catering to kids of all ages.
Once Luke lost the feeling in his limbs from the cold we jogged on up (we literally jogged to keep warm!) to the castle in search of hot chocolate and gingerbread men. We were not disappointed and the quaint tea rooms were the perfect retreat from the fresh icy morning outside. There was a great selection of coffees, teas and of course cakes. For dog walkers there is even a dog friendly cafe called ‘Paws’ that allows you to dine with your dog alongside you.
Once suitably thawed we once again braved the elements in search of the Ardgillan Fairy Tree Trail. We weren’t disappointed, the trail was littered with tiny little dwellings, along with tiny doors and windows hidden in the trees. We followed the trail with a lovely map we picked up in the castle. Luke enjoyed ducking in and out of trees and under branches to find each of the tiny homes. The trail finally led us in and around the impressive walled gardens.
After nearly two hours of exploring it was time for the hike up the expansive green hill back to the car. Luke didn’t want to leave and considered renting out one of the fairy houses at one point. He quickly reconsidered however when he saw the end of the gingerbread man in the buggy. All in all the experience was magical. The cold didn’t deter us, and the bright, fresh winter’s morning made the green surroundings all the more impressive. This is a destination to put on any tiny explorer’s list. Another weekend morning well spent with the tiny humans: minimum spending, maximum memory making, what’s not to love? The perfect family day out.