Kids go free-range here. There are no structured activities, instead there are wide open spaces to explore, new friends to make friends with and plenty of adventure and discovery in the natural playground at Lough Mardal. Pack wellies whatever the weather. And a warning: there will be twigs in hair, scratches and scrapes and almost definitely mud on clothes. There will probably also be late nights but when they do finally go to bed they will sleep like kings.
The central campfire is there for everyone to use and is the best spot for star-gazing. There are supplies of wood in the nearby shed you can help yourself to. (We usually have emergency marshmallows for toasting.)
For the nature lovers we try to keep our Nature Diary up to date which gives a guideline of what to watch out for
depending on the time of year and there is a selection of wildlife magazines and books in the Lodge.
The Reciprocal Room in the Lodge is a gadget-free space so remember to pack your books and boardgames. There is also a small selection in the Lodge to choose from too.
The lake has a very shallow shoreline, great for paddling and truly lovely for swimming, so pack your swimsuits. Or fishing rods!
As well as a big BBQ area there is also a pizza oven which will cook a pizza in a very family-friendly 90 seconds! You are welcome to make full use the large self-catering kitchen in the Lodge. There are also plenty of places locally to eat out or get takeaways.
If looking for recommendations for things to do locally with all the family, below is our Top 10 Tips.
OUR TOP 10 THINGS TO DO WITH THE KIDS
Lough Mardal - Nature's Playground - 0km!
The outdoor adventure begins at Lough Mardal Lodge's 90 acres. There are trails in nearly every direction for long and short legs, through soft squishy moss peatlands (particularly lovely in bare feet) and for wild encounters with frogs and insects. Stumble upon a willow grove and do some tree-climbing, run through fluffy white bog-cotton or take a ramble up the hill to meet the cows. With a very shallow shoreline the lake at Lough Mardal is perfect for paddling, wild swimming or examining lakeshore rocks and pebbles! And it goes without saying that an evening sitting around the campfire toasting marshmallows is almost mandatory.
Forest Walk at Castle Cadwell - 13.5km
Just across the border in Co. Fermanagh. A beautiful forest walk and hidden gem on a peninsula jutting out into picturesque Lough Erne. Plenty of meandering trails to follow of varying lengths suitable for walking, pushchairs or bikes. Leafy nooks and crannies to explore in all directions. You'll have to tear the kids away.
Hit the Beach - 13km
Once Lough Mardal explorations have been exhausted next stop is the beach! There are two big beautiful blue-flag beaches within 10 minutes drive, Rossnowlagh & Murvagh, which received the International Blue Flag award in 2018. Ideal for bucket and spade fun, shell-collecting and a splash about in the sea. Tullan Strand 20 minutes away in Bundoran is another very popular beach but can get a bit crowded in the Summer. South of Tullan the cliffs have formed bizarre shapes, like the Fairies Bridge (a bridge of rock) or the Wishing Chair.
A quirky pier-side cafe and petting zoo the kids will love. Giant fluffy rabbits, goats, peacocks, owls and more in a lovely setup behind the cafe. Delicious treats, freshly made crepes and ice-cream, sea air in the lungs. Plenty of shoreline spots for a picnic and splashabout in the sea while there.
A lovely local petting farm with large outdoor play area and sandpit as well as an indoor softplay room. Kids can take a trip on the barrel train or drive a real digger. There's a cafe too for the grown-ups. (Closed in Winter)
Surf Lessons - 13km
Surf Lessons at one of Ireland's premier Surf Schools in Rossnowlagh. Can be booked with us, see our Optional Extras. For kids aged 8 upwards April-Aug
Maghera Beach & Caves - 57km
A bit further afield, you'll be making a day of it..but definitely worth it. The beach is without doubt one of Donegal's finest with huge caves to explore. The scenery en route is picture postcard beautiful. You'll pass the Assaranca waterfall on the way and why not pop into Nancy's in Adara for a bowl of soup.
Horse Riding - 19km
Horse riding lessons and beach/sand dune trail rides are available for novice and beginners and can be booked with us, see our Optional Extras. (From age 7 upwards.)
Waterworld - 18km
Indoor water park with an abundance of slides, waves and ships...for toddlers and kids of all ages in Bundoran.
Tropical World - 67km
Another option for a day out - this time to Letterkenny, a great option on a rainy day. It's not quite a zoo but it's getting close. Tropical butterflies and birds of all shapes and sizes. Lemurs and miniature monkeys, racoons, meerkats and more. There is also a Jurassic Land and Bug World.
Tropical World also has an on-site café