I had just landed in Dublin, after an overnight flight from Washington DC, on a sunny morning a few weeks ago and found myself once again caught in those beautiful in-between hours when the adrenaline for starting another sustainable journey kicks in and the complete exhaustion that I knew was going to set in during the late afternoon. Well, I certainly made the best of those beautiful hours thanks to the help of Carina Mount Charles at Rock Farm Slane! Carina and her husband, Alex, invited me to check out their unique ecotourism experience. Right now, their accommodations consist of a set of 5 luxurious yurt travel camping sites and 2 shepherd’s huts that overlook the grounds of Slane Castle, but will soon include a 4-star eco guesthouse.
Rock Farm Slane, which holds Ecotourism Ireland Gold certification, is located a short drive (or train ride) north of Dublin on what is considered to be one of the straightest roads in Ireland. It’s purported to be the straightest road given Alex’s great, great, great, great grandmother, Elizabeth’s romance with King George IV of England. Apparently, George wanted to be able to quickly reach Elizabeth, who lived at her family’s estate of Slane Castle, so a straight road was built!
Slane Castle and its grounds have a more recent celebrity history though, as it’s played host to rock concerts featuring U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Bowie, Queen and REM, to name a few. And, for die hard U2 fans, it’s interesting to note that the band lived in Slane Castle while they were recording The Unforgettable Fire album.
Most storied families would be content to offer tours of their family castle, but Carina and Alex wanted to do more by combining Carina’s professional background (she holds a Master’s of Science in Environmental Technologies) with their collective desire to create an authentic, sustainable experience that would spotlight the entire Slane village.
The result is nothing short of good fun matched with serenity.
Upon entering the grounds, I encountered the construction site of the soon to be built eco-guesthouse, but just walking 5 minutes more led to an open expanse of quiet, tree-lined, beautiful scenery. It was then I realized you can actually get a chance to think here.
The setup, most commonly termed as glamping or a glamorous camping experience, offers large family-sized yurts complete with comfortable beds, dressers and electricity. There is a separate, communal building so you can take a hot shower as well as talk with other visitors, cook a meal in the self-catering kitchen or the barbeque / clay oven on the patio. In addition, there is another separate building with compost toilets, which I must say did not have the odor that I usually encounter when using a composting toilet facility. A big relief!
Guests can use the wood burning hot tub, go hiking, rent electric bikes, use the private river access for swimming or kayaking, and visit Slane Castle’s on-site distillery. There are also plenty of opportunities for WWOOFing on the organic farm.
An activity that stood out for me was the ability to rent an electric bike for the day and meander through one or more of the special trails that link various farms in the area. You can taste your way through the region and, if you prefer, collect various ingredients and prepare a family-style dinner at the end of the day. Carina said, “Most clients book us for a couple of nights and end up staying for the week because there’s so much to do and they’re having so much fun.”
Click to contact Rock Farm Slane and be sure to say ‘hello’ to Carina from Greenloons!