The Blackwater Valley is a stunning corner of Ireland and one that is easily accessible when you secure car hire from Cork Airport. Rather than trying to master public transport, especially when it is very early or late in the day, you can hop into your car and drive straight to your accommodation, where you can sleep or freshen up before setting off to explore.
There are plenty of beautiful towns and villages to visit. Spend your days soaking up the stunning scenery and breathing in the fresh country air, before retiring to a warm and inviting pub or restaurant to enjoy traditional Irish fare and a few drinks.
Below is a guide to some of the best things to see and do when holidaying in the Blackwater Valley.
Stroll around Annes Grove Gardens
Located in Castletownroche, Annes Grove Gardens are the perfect place to visit if on a romantic break. Mainly created in the early 20th century, the stunning gardens include an 18th century-style ornamented glen, rare rhododendrons and secluded paths that take you past limestone cliffs, from where you can enjoy views of a wild meadow and lily ponds. When the sun is shining, this is an ideal attraction in which to while away an hour or two.
If you like to explore elegant buildings in beautiful surroundings, Blarney House and Gardens should be on your itinerary. Just 200 yards from Blarney Castle, the house and gardens should not be missed. The property was built in 1874 and has a spectacular interior - and when you step outside you will find the gardens are just as impressive. Giant western red cedars, maples, hybrid azaleas and rose beds are just some of the features of the land.
Head across to Blarney Castle and you can kiss the famous Blarney Stone. For more than 200 years, people have flocked here in order to receive the gift of eloquence. It is certainly an interesting sight, as you have to grab hold of the railings and lean backwards from a lying position in order to reach it!
Cork is famous for its golf courses, which is why booking a hire car can prove convenient, as there is no need to lug your kit about on public transport. Charleville Golf Club boasts 27 holes and well-maintained greens, and it will be a pleasure to play here, especially when you gaze across the stunning scenery. Also located in the Blackwater Valley is Mallow Golf Club, which is a championship course that is seen as something of a hidden gem. For those who don't play golf, there is also tennis and squash courts and a restaurant and bar.
Go on invigorating walks
Of course, one of the best things to do while in the Blackwater Valley is to simply walk. This affords you the freedom to breathe in the fresh Irish countryside air, take in beautiful views and reward yourself for your efforts with a sumptuous meal and cocktail later that evening. The Doctor's Hill Loop starts and finishes near the source of the Blackwater River and will take around one or two hours across forestry roads. Choose Father Murphy's Loop and you'll walk for 7 km through Knightfield Forest on Mount Hillary's northern slopes.
Blackwater Valley is also home to some first-class spas, such as the Blarney Golf Resort. After all of that walking, it's the perfect excuse to enjoy a relaxing massage and sauna.