If you mostly associate the Burren with your Junior Cert geography exam, it is high time to give it a fresh look, especially if you are a food lover.

The recent launch of a series of five food trails shows just why the area was named the 2015 Irish winner of the European Destination of Excellence Tourism and Local Gastronomy (EDEN) award.

An initiative of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, in conjunction with the Burren Ecotourism Network, the self-guided food trails feature a mix of producers, restaurants and markets showcasing the rich food heritage of the region, from field to table.

Each of the restaurants features a Burren food trail “signature dish”, while every Monday until late October, members take turns hosting special events from farm walks to food safaris.

Trails include “Farm to Fork”, “Taste the Ocean”, “Market Garden” and “Burren Cheese”, but we experienced the family-friendly “Nature’s Child” trail... and brushed up on our geography en route too.

Web: www.burrengeopark.ie

Stop one: Burren Nature Sanctuary, Kinvara

If you are looking for an introduction to the botany, biodiversity and beauty of this unique landscape, the Burren Nature Sanctuary outside Kinvara is the place to start.

Roy and Mary Bermingham opened the centre on their 50-acre organic farm three years ago with the support of Galway Rural Development and LEADER, and it certainly makes for a great family day out.

Start by visiting the resident animals – Amelia the miniature pig is the star – before following the nature trail along an ancient droving route, with features including a turlough lake that disappears every 11 hours, wild flower meadow, limestone pavement and hazel woodland, with lots to keep kids (and adults) engaged along the way, from a birdbox treasure hunt to a fairy trail.

There are also three playgrounds – with a zip wire and a “mobilis” spinning seesaw for older kids – while adults can enjoy the Burren botany bubble, which houses the national collection of Burren flora, including the cowslip, bloody crane’s bill, dog violet and orchids.

The Sanctuary Café offers a lip-smackingly seasonal menu, with specials ranging from wild Atlantic fishcakes to a Burren-inspired mezze platter, but we chose the signature savoury scone made with spinach, cheddar, walnut and hazelnuts served with Burren Gold Cheese, seaweed salad garish and a homemade tomato relish costing €6.50.

A “no fizz, no fryer” policy, meanwhile, means that children’s options include pasta with a “hidden vegetable” sauce for just €3.50 and a homemade Margherita pizza with a fresh tomato sauce for €6.

Admission is €5 for adults and children under four, and €10 for children over four. A family pass (admitting two adults and three children) costs €35. Annual membership is also available.

Tel: 091-637-444

Web: www.bns.ie

Stop two: Drive 20 minutes to Linnalla irish Ice Cream, New Quay

It is the native Shorthorn cows that make Linnalla ice cream so special, explains Bríd Fahy, who with her husband Roger, decided to diversify on their dairy farm near New Quay in 2006.

And you would be pushed to find a more scenic spot for a scoop or a sundae in their parlour overlooking the Flaggy Shore. Seasonal specialities include Burren wild hazelnut and blackberry ice cream, though as Bríd points out, vanilla is still the most popular flavour, with pods sourced from small growers in Tahiti.

On recommendation, we sample the Linnalla strawberry ice cream, crammed with the sweetest of Irish strawberries from Rose Cottage Farm in Mountmellick, as well as the white chocolate and Burren hazelnut combination. A cone with one scoop costs €2.50, but there is also a selection of sundaes, banana boats, ice cream crepes and knickerbocker glories available if you are feeling particularly decadent.

Special events include monthly poetry walks, while farm tours, which include an ice cream and a drink, can also be pre-booked.

Tel: 065-707-8167

Web: www.linnalla.ie

Stop three: Drive 45 minutes to Stonecutters Kitchen, Doolin

“I want them to feel like they’ve had a hug from their mammy... that it’s comfort food, it’s real food,” says Karen Courtney, who with husband Myles Duffy, runs Stonecutters Kitchen restaurant outside Doolin.

We certainly get a warm glow from the crispy fishcakes made with Burren Smokehouse hot smoked salmon, fresh salmon and smoked haddock and served with crispy mixed salad and lemon and butter sauce (€8.95 for a starter/€12.95 for a main course).

But younger diners are well catered for with half portions of dishes such as beef and Guinness stew priced at €7.95, as well as a loyalty scheme, where they get free tokens depending on what they order (the healthier the choice, the higher the value), which they can exchange for a variety of small toys and trinkets. With a playground and baskets of toys also on site, it is little wonder that it was selected as Georgina Campbell’s Family Friendly Restaurant of the Year 2016.

Tel: 065-707-5962

Web: www.stonecutterskitchen.com

Stop four: Drive 10 minutes to Doolin Cave

The Cliffs of Moher might get all the attention, but did you know that the Burren is also home to the longest stalactite in the northern hemisphere?

Doolin Cave, which was opened to the public in 2006 by farmers John and Helen Browne, provides visitors with an opportunity to travel 180ft into the limestone caverns under the Burren, where the star attraction is the 23ft long stalactite, weighing over 10 tonnes. However, there is as much to do overground, with a nature trail with wildflower meadow, “fairy” woodland glade and animals include Dexter and Irish moiled cattle, Soay and Jacob sheep, and the undisputed stars of the show: pygmy goats Vinnie and Minnie.

And – if you can fit another bite in – there is also a café on site, which uses fresh local produce, including eggs from their own chickens and basil, wild garlic, lemon balm, dill and rosemary, all grown on site. We succumbed to the raspberry cheesecake at €4.50 a slice.

There are daily tours on the hour from 10am to 5pm. You can save 20% by booking online to avail of an adult ticket for €12, a child ticket for €6.40 or a family pass (admitting two adults and three children) for €40.

Tel: 065-707-5761

Web: www.doolincave.ie