Our expert Concierge Team all have first hand knowledge of our Retreats. Kelly Rowland visited Natural Retreats Castlemartyr and here are her top five recommendations.

  1. ‘Kissing the Blarney Stone’ at Blarney Castle was recently voted by the Discovery channel as one of the ’99 things to do before you die’. I don’t know about that, however, it is definitely worth the 40-minute drive to get to. Once you have gone through the castle you have the option of kissing the stone at the top, where you have to lie backwards over the edge of the castle, arch backwards and kiss the stone a few feet below you. Once done, this is supposed to give you the gift of eloquence and you can talk as much as an Irishman! Along with the castle, the grounds themselves are great for spending an afternoon wandering around with options for doing a 90 minute lake walk or shorter 45-minute woodland walk. An alternate walk through Rock Close is also ideal for children as they have a fairy/witches theme where a lot of the natural landscape is said to be occupied by fairy tale creatures as well as larger climbing frames and swings for older children. Afterwards we ate in a pub in Blarney called the Muskerry Arms which was great. A very popular spot with a great food menu and one of the best burgers in history!
  2. FOTA Wildlife Park is definitely a must for families. They have completely overhauled the entrance to the park to showcase a new Meerkat enclosure and a Cheetah Run where they feed cheetahs periodically throughout the day, attaching meat to a zip wire which the cheetahs chase. Animals include giraffes, zebras, lemurs, kangaroos, sea lions, penguins, monkeys and more. They also have ‘singing gibbons’ that actually sing in a little quartet for 15 minutes a day (at about 2:30). Definitely something you will remember if you see it!
  3. Rocky Road Buggies – this is great fun to do for an hour in the afternoon. Farm land has been turned into a rally circuit with the capability to take four buggies at a time (over 14s only). The dirt buggies are very safe and virtually impossible to turn over, however, all safety equipment is provided, as well as overcoats and waterproof trousers if needed.
  4. Ballycotton Cliff Walk is my favourite. You can walk for miles along the coast and about a mile into the walk there is a gorgeous little alcove with steps down the cliff to the beach for you to stop at. Cliff walk is fairly suitable for kids, the path is well worn and any dangerous areas are fenced off.
  5. Taking the Horse and Carriage Estate tour around the Castlemartyr estate is a must! Your tour guide Roy has a long family history with the estate as his family have worked there for generations. This is a great way to explore the grounds and Roy has so much to tell you along the way about the history of Castlemartyr. Roy also makes the experience fun for families by telling children all about the Castlemartyr fairies and introducing you to the horses and ponies on site.

Kelly Rowland, Reservations and Concierge