His­tory is fun in Ty­rone

Travel back in time in with mi­grant tales and a car­riage mu­seum

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

Spend­ing qual­ity time with the fam­ily is price­less, but find­ing some­thing that you can en­joy to­gether can be tricky. Not so if you head to Co Ty­rone, where fam­ily-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties are plen­ti­ful and the stun­ning land­scape is a nat­u­ral out­door play­ground. Pick a week­end, pack the bags and pre­pare for a su­per break that will cre­ate a mul­ti­tude of mem­o­ries.

For ex­cel­lent, fam­ily-friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion, the three-star Val­ley Ho­tel in Fivemile­town is hard to beat. The ho­tel of­fers in­ter­con­nect­ing fam­ily rooms that sleep four, plus a baby cot if re­quired. There is a TV in each room and a Wii con­sole fea­tur­ing 12 games — plenty to keep young and old alike en­ter­tained.

If your fam­ily in­cludes a four-legged friend, they can come too, as the ho­tel also has dog ken­nels.

Once checked in, waste no time in head­ing up the road to the beau­ti­ful Bless­ing­bourne Coun­try Es­tate, where stacks of fun awaits.

The his­toric es­tate, on the edge of the Clogher Val­ley, has 550 acres of wood­lands and lakes, and is teem­ing with wildlife.

Hire a bike and get pedalling. If your fam­ily has any moun­tain bik­ers, they will revel in the world-class trails, while gen­tler routes through the wood­land will de­light the less ad­ven­tur­ous. Al­ter­na­tively, en­joy a fam­ily walk along the be­spoke trails and try spot­ting a pea­cock, pike or perch.

Younger chil­dren will en­joy vis­it­ing the an­i­mals in Bless­ing­bourne’s work­ing farm and play­ing in the play area, while the whole fam­ily will be cap­ti­vated by the Car­riage and Cos­tume Mu­seum, a unique col­lec­tion of coaches, bug­gies, Penny Farthings, a Ro­many car­a­van, old farm ma­chin­ery and even a UN he­li­copter.

Back at the Val­ley Ho­tel, a hearty meal will be wel­come af­ter all that fresh air and ex­er­cise. The Loco Bar and Grill of­fers an ex­ten­sive menu and a great-value kids’ menu. Then there’s just time for a few Wii games be­fore bed.

Start the next day with a fill­ing Val­ley Ho­tel break­fast be­fore mak­ing for the For­est Sta­bles for a spot of pony trekking. The BHS-ap­proved rid­ing school and trekking cen­tre has a lovely river trail and is known for its friendly and at­ten­tive staff. Never been on a horse be­fore? Don’t worry, the cen­tre spe­cialises in novice and ner­vous rid­ers, and the ponies are un­flap­pable. Chil­dren as young as four can sad­dle up for a guided walk.

How to spend the af­ter­noon is eas­ily solved as one of North­ern Ire­land’s most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions, the Ul­ster Amer­i­can Folk Park, sit­u­ated in nearby Omagh, is not to be missed.

It’s a first-class fam­ily des­ti­na­tion packed with things to see and do, and has the added ben­e­fit of slip­ping in a bit of his­tory with­out the kids even notic­ing.

Telling the story of the mi­grants who braved the jour­ney across the At­lantic to Amer­ica hun­dreds of years ago, the park has 30 build­ings and ex­hibits to ex­plore, as well as a full-scale emi­grant ship to board, which shows the con­di­tions peo­ple en­dured on their voy­age to the New World. It’s a hands-on, im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence that will keep ev­ery­one fas­ci­nated for hours.

Af­ter a fun-filled two days of walk­ing, cy­cling, rid­ing, play­ing, din­ing, dis­cov­er­ing and stor­ing up some great mem­o­ries, it’s time to re­turn home. You’ve packed a lot into your short break, but there’s so much more to ex­plore and lots more op­por­tu­ni­ties to spend qual­ity fam­ily time in Co Ty­rone.

LOTS TO DO: Bless­ing­bourne Coun­try Es­tate, and (be­low from left) the Val­ley Ho­tel and Ul­ster Amer­i­can Folk Park

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