It was another icy day and I didn’t get out until the afternoon but even then it hadn’t thawed much. It is a nice change to get up the forest in icy conditions but in places the path was very treacherous due to the ice.
It remained fairly frozen on any open ground the whole way round although it was beginning to thaw on the lower part of the forest.
As we trudged down the path through the lower part of the forest, it was lovely to see the white landscape which we get for such a short part of the year.
I had planned on a half-day’s walking over the Christmas break and due to it being a fantastic crisp winter’s morning, I got my act together and set off from Longford towards Clondra along the canal for a distance of almost 18km. As I was leaving the car I realised I’d forgotten my phone but no harm anyway.
It was fairly quiet around Longford, it being 9:45 on a Sunday morning. The icy conditions and low sunshine made for very scenic views but it was somewhat challenging for the camera.
This cat was looking at all the dogs out for a walk with a mixture of pity and disgust I reckon.
As I rounded the first bend, what water there was in the canal was frozen over and the ducks were walking across it. I suppose it’s better than bathing in almost freezing water.
A couple of dog-walkers having a nice little chat on near the first bridge.
At this point I was beginning to settle into the walk as I passed along the back of the various retail units. The path here is newly developed and has a good surface and excellent street-lighting. There area also lots of signs banning alcohol which are probably about as effective as the ones about keeping dogs on a lead and cleaning up after them.
After crossing the Athlone road, the canal gets properly out into the countryside and the frozen landscape looked fabulous. It wasn’t even beginning to thaw.
At this point, I was about half-way to the main-line which itself marks the half-way point of the journey. Despite being out of use for half a century, the remaining canal bridges are holding together pretty well.
The next few kilometers were much of the same really – walking quickly along a frozen path beside a frozen ditch. In some places, there are fairly substantial trees growing out of the canal bed.
Anyway, I got to the junction pretty quickly from here and it was looking fantastic. I stopped here for a bit and had some coffee and chocolate and a 5 minute rest.
Amazingly, the main line itself was frozen over in parts and when I poked it through with my stick, you could see it was 7 or 8 mm thick in places.
As I passed Kilashee I got to a spot where two swans had been overnight, and you could see the track where they been swimming through the ice.
From here on, I just put my head down to make some time and walked the next 4 or 5 k without pausing for much at all. I stopped for another cup of coffee by the lifting bridge a couple of kilometres out of Clondra.
From here on it was only about another 3 km and I quickly put paid to that. It was beginning to thaw a bit but there was still plenty of ice about. There is a lovely view of Sliabh Bán across the bog here.
It is nice to descend into Clondra from the 45th lock.
I ended up making pretty good time with the 18km completed in a little over 3 and a half hours. I didn’t have as big a load as usual which helped matters but it ended up being a morning very well spent.
Well, I finally made my hundred days with 4 to spare. We left in mid-afternoon so as to be back before dusk. While walking up the main road towards the hill, we noticed that there had been an accident on the main road a few hundred metres away. As there were plenty of people there already, we just kept walking.
The evening flight was fabulous and it was a nice clear evening – it is looking like we’ll have quite a severe frost tonight. As we continued on, it appeared that the accident was quite a bit more serious than it looking as a helicopter appeared on the scene.
We continued on with the walk anyway, and all had a nice time.
We did the round in record time with the children as one of them had an urgent need to get back to await the birth of some sea dragons that were due to hatch at exactly 3:30. So she sprinted around and the rest of us tried to keep up.
When we got back the helicopter was just leaving. So all-in-all a pretty eventful hundredth walk.
After going through the entire year without a walk among proper snow, we had a flurry of snow for an hour this morning and it started to settle. So I grabbed my chance and my stick and set off for a quick walk.
Of course it being Ireland, the snow quickly turned to rain so I had to be quick with my camera. By the time I got into the second, less-exposed, half of the walk it had started melting.
It is always a fantastic experience to fine oneself walking a familiar route in snow as it is incredibly different. Even the thin covering here was refreshing in its variety.
As usual there wasn’t anyone to be seen on my walk and as I got towards the top, a fairly thick mist started gathering so that I was walking among ice, water and mist.
Little of the snow had made through to the ground in the second half of the loop but there were so traces to be seen.
By the time I got out of the forest, most of the snow had gone. A couple of hours later, the rain has settled in properly and there is no trace whatsoever.
We had a bit of company on the walk today for a change so it was a nice trek in the woods. The unseasonal full bloom of the gorse still carries on during these short days. It was a fine sunny day for a walk and not even particularly cold.
There was a fabulous clear view from up the top with a lot of standing water about.
There is a quite a lot of heather in bloom at the moment.
We had a nice walk as I’m getting so close to the end of this project and there isn’t a lot more to say about it.
We decided to all get up relatively early (for a Sunday morning) and get ourselves up the mountain for the solstice dawn – which is supposed to be at 08:38. Unfortunately we were greeted with an overcast morning which wasn’t so great but it still got bright.
With the half light, conditions weren’t so great for photography so not a lot came out well. We didn’t have the fastest of walks and went around the longest route so it was nearly 10 by the time we got back home ready for a nice hot breakfast.
Due to the dogs being somewhat deranged I had to get out for a walk on a soaking wet Sunday afternoon. It was so wet that I really didn’t bother with the camera around and just charged around in 45 minutes to avoid getting overly wet and cold.
You can see how dark it is at this time of year. I had to use the flash to take this picture and the background is almost completely black.
Anyway, we got around quickly and got into the warm and dry without much ado.
This was a normal quick lunchtime walk on a fine dry day. I spotted this splash of colour on the way up the hill which is nice to see at this time of year.
I don’t normally take pictures of the road section at all. This bit is about 50 metres of road that you need to walk between the two halves of the forest loop. It is quite a spot for people to get rid of a bit of household rubbish.
There is so little light around at this time of year that the camera really quite struggles. It does however give this fantastic washed out effect sometimes.
This looks rather interesting and has suddenly sprouted up all over the place.
This is the most remote part of the forest. There is no proper path through here, just a track that is mostly worn there by me and the dogs.