'Walkers Welcome' in Coillte's Forest Trails

Not all land owners welcome recreation users onto their land. This can be for a variety of reasons, privacy, safety, conservation, protection of life stock or crops etc. However Coillte welcomes responsible users who practice 'Leave No Trace' and allows permissive access for walkers to its estate of over 1,000,000 acres.

Forests are a great place to walk with your dog. Many of Coillte's forest lands are in some of Ireland's most beautiful locations. To help you with knowing where access is allowed to walkers, Coillte are posting "Walkers Welcome" signs at the entrances to their forests, so you are free to go in when you see this sign.

Over the coming months, we're going to be featuring some of Coiltte's forest walks here on PetFriendlyIreland.

A Haven by the Sea: Cashel House Hotel, Cashel, Co. Galway

Cashel House Hotel is situated in the heart of Connemara, in the peaceful surroundings of 50 acres of gardens and woodland walks. The hotel is located 8 miles from the fishing village of Roundstone, and the town of Clifden and nearby Kylemore Abbey and gardens are less than 25 minutes drive away.

Cashel House Hotel is one of the best dog-friendly hotels we've stayed in - a wonderful welcome, comfortable rooms, great food and a very beautiful setting in Casla Bay. Some great dog walking as well - we spent a very happy few hours skirting the appropriately named Dog's Bay, just beyond Roundstone.

Visit their website cashelhouse.ie.

Leave No Trace

The mountain environment is a delicate one. By understanding how we impact on wildlife, landscapes and each other, we can modify our behaviour to ensure that we treat the land, animals and people within these environments with respect.

A number of Ireland’s National Parks are part of a nationwide programme called Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace skills and ethics help visitors to the outdoors leave minimum impact while enjoying the National Parks.Leave No Trace principles are not regulations. They are guidelines to help visitors make informed decisions in the outdoors so that they may leave the area as beautiful and as natural as they found it.

The 7 principles of ‘Leave No Trace':

(1) Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area that you’ll visit. The National Park Information office can advise on protected areas and seasonal concerns.
  • Check if your chosen recreation or activity is permitted. Always follow signs.
  • Check the weather forecast. Prepare for changeable weather and the possibility of something going wrong.
  • Ensure you have the skills and equipment needed for your activity.
  • If you are a group leader you have added responsibilities – know the competencies and expectations of your group.

For environmental, safety and social reasons split large parties into smaller groups less than 10, ideally between 4-6.

(2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails, rock, gravel, dry grass and snow.
  • On eroded tracks keep to the centre of the track, even when wet and muddy, to avoid widening the erosion.
  • In pristine areas:
  • Disperse use to avoid creating new tracks
  • Avoid areas where impacts are just beginning to show.

(3) Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviour and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Dogs should be kept under effective control – i.e. they should come at first call.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young and winter.

(4) Leave What You Find

  • Take care not to damage old walls, ruins, abandoned mine shafts and their workings.
  • Leave rocks, plants, animals and other natural objects as you find them. Fallen trees and dead wood are valuable wildlife habitats – please do not remove or damage.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. E.g. wash down all boats to avoid introducing zebra mussel.

(5) Be Considerate of Others

  • Park carefully – avoid blocking gateways and forest entrances. Remember that Park staff and the emergency services may need access at all times.
  • Respect other visitors and the quality of their experience.
  • Take rest breaks away from tracks.

Let natures sounds prevail; avoid loud noises.

(6) Dispose of Waste Properly

  • “Leave No Waste” – remove all rubbish and leftover food items, even biodegradable items like T-bags and fruit peels.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 30m away from streams or lakes, use small amounts of biodegradable soaps if necessary. Scatter strained wastewater.
  • Human waste should be buried or carried out depending on the soil type. Waterlogged soils impede the proper break down of waste. Human waste should be removed in these areas.
  • To dispose of solid human waste, dig a “cathole” – a hole 10-12cm deep, located at least 30m away from watercourses and 50m from walking routes. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
  • All toilet paper and hygiene products should be carried out.

(7) Minimize the Effects of Fire

  • Fire can be devastating to habitats and wildlife. Campfires are not currently permitted in the National Park; the issuing of permits for campfires is suspended pending review.
  • Only gas barbeques are permitted within the National Park.

Download the Leave No Trace brochure here.

You can visit the Leave No Trace Ireland website at www.leavenotraceireland.org

Our Poshest Christmas Ever: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

"They say that dogs aren't just for Christmas .... but let me tell you, Christmas is for dogs. I had the best one yet when I went with Nessa and Peter to stay at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Enniskerry.

I'd heard that they normally only take little pooches - you know, the ones that fit in your handbag - but because the weather was so bad with all that white stuff on the ground, they made an exception and let me check in; very good taste they have in hotel guests, I have to say.

I was very impressed with the whole shebang. They had porters to bring up my bags (a week's supply of dentastix not to mention several squeaky toys are pretty heavy, you know) and the room was really comfortable. I had my own bed of lovely red leather and wood, as well as my own bowl for water and biscuits (and rashers, when Nessa could snaffle some for me). I didn't mind having to share the room with my Ma & Da - they're pretty clean and didn't snore much.

Nessa said the food was gorgeous, and we had great fun down in the lobby watching the other guests come and go. I even got to sniff some of the other dogs - there was a particularly attractive doberman pinscher, and I nearly did.

We went for great walks in Powerscourt Demense, and while my folks were busy taking photos of the Sugar Loaf, I was bouncing in the snow and then eating as much of it as I could swallow.

This is a five star review for a five star hotel. Check it out.

See you later, Baxter"

Welcome to Petfriendly Ireland

"My Ma and Da spend all their time on their laptops, so I thought I'd get in on the act and set up my own blog.

I'm Baxter the border collie, I'm 4 years old, and I live in Dublin with Nessa & Peter. Before I met them, I lived with a whole lot of other pals in the DSPCA pound in Rathfarnham. That was great craic, but I missed my comforts and the long stretches up and down the mountains. So when Peter and Nessa invited me home, I decided to try them out.

Three years later, here I am on the internet! I'll be telling you about the sort of things I get up to, the fancy places I've stayed and the great walks I've found. But don't be surprised if Nessa and Peter put their paws in ... I have to fight them for a go on the keyboard!

See you later, Baxter."