As my dad has a new mobility scooter we wanted to find a good spot to take him for a wander and Coolnahay came to mind as it has a good solid path and not too many obstructions. So we set off for a wander on a fine May afternoon.
Oddly enough, for a place that normally has so many people about it was quite deserted. Still it was a lovely peaceful time. Conscious of the range of the scooter we turned round at about 4 km although if I’d known how close we were to Ballina we should have gone the rest of way.
There were loads of cowslips around – they seem to do really well in the undisturbed grass. When we got back to Coolnahay we came across an interesting sight – a racing pigeon was having a rest on the bridge.
He was really tame and came right up to my daughter. That was a nice end to a nice relaxing walk.
I managed to get out twice today – once at lunchtime and once in the evening with the children who needed a bit of exercise. We managed to dodge the heavy showers we’ve been having for the last few days so had dry walks both times even if the ground is very wet.
I christened a new pair of boots today – my old daily walking boots had given up the ghost after about 5 months – I won’t be buying Hi-Tec boots again. The Lidl ones I had before as daily boots were better.
The pine flowers are now well on their way to becoming pine cones. I really love this time of year in the forest as everything is coming alive and there is a real sense of possibility. The bilberries are coming along nicely – there could be a good crop this year.
I was back to the Miners’ Way for the day and although I planned on getting the bulk of the remains of it done, the weather had other ideas. But it started out OK. I left Arigna village at about 08:30 and started on about a 5km walk-in to my starting point on the loop itself. I didn’t follow the official route as that would have given me at least twice the distance back-tracking and I wasn’t really up for that.
The weather was overcast but dry – perfect walking conditions really even it was a bit misty. The initial couple of kilometres was easy enough going with a gradual incline taking me up into the hills. I did spot this rather fabulous horsetail on the side of the road.
After a couple of kilometres, I turned off the road I was on and started heading up into the hills properly. This was quite a steep climb but the views were kind of worth it.
I came across this lovely thatched cottage but it wasn’t long before I left the houses behind. Although the Irish love to build everywhere, once you get into the proper uplands they tend not to bother so much.
As I headed up the hill, the windfarm on the mountain starts to loom overhead and there is a low rhythmic swoosh as the nearby turbine is turning fast in the stiff breeze. These turbines will be a major feature of the walk as the route takes me right around them. A lot of people complain about them, but they are a lot easier on the landscape than the coal mining that went before them.
As I crest the mountain, I got a fabulous view of Lough Allen although it is somewhat obscured by mist. Sliabh Aniarainn is hidden in clouds as usual.
I get a bit of a break from climbing and the route flattens out for a kilometre or so until I rejoin the Miners’ Way properly at a ruined house where I took a break for lunch on my walk from Dowra to Dromshanbo.
One of the slightly unfortunate features of the Miners’ Way is that it is very difficult to complete it without covering parts of it two or three times. So with this in mind, I backtracked along the route to towards Dowra for another kilometre until I came to the branch point.
And yes, the marks on one of the sign do appear to be from shotgun pellets.
I took the turn and started heading off up towards what is probably the wildest bit of the walk I’ve seen so far. This part of it follows an old quarry road and ends up in the wind-farm. All around are various rock faces and piles of earth that are the result of previous mining.
You get a real sense of this being the Real Miners’ Way. There are a few other industrial highlights, but none of them seem quite so isolated and in such an unlikely place. When you get to the top, there is this strange expanse of gravel – it is hard to know if this old or if was excavated when they were putting up the wind-farm.
By now, it was starting to drizzle a bit but nothing too upsetting. I started down the access road for the wind-farm for a bit until the route turned off across a bog before heading down the mountain. This was to be a bit of an up-and-down day as the route took me up out of Arigna, then down into the a valley before going up Kilronan Mountain. So I went down across the bog, then through some cut-away forestry that was probably really nice a couple of years ago.
After crossing a road, I took a coffee break before continuing down a lovely grassy road through a forest. This looks like it used to be a proper road as it ends up in ruined cottage.
This would have been a nicer spot for my coffee break but no worry – I continued downhill until I came to a rather substantial river with a fairly new steel bridge across it.
From here I headed up through the forest until I came to another track that used to be road.
This took me up by an old ruined school that obviously had a very short operational lifespan since it was only built in 1955. It was in a pretty sorry state.
By now the rain was starting to get a bit serious about things which was making life a bit difficult.
I followed the old road up for another hundred and fifty metres or so and came across a nice little church and grotto.
Then I followed the road for a bit before the route headed off into another patch of forestry and steeply upwards towards Kilronan mountain. By now the rain was getting quite bad and I had to put the camera away as it was really getting quite wet. So of necessity there will be little more photography.
It was a pretty steep climb up the side of Kilronan Mountain but it was all over quite quickly and the route followed a a contour for a couple of kilometres. On a better day there would have been a fabulous view here but there was nothing much to see today unfortunately.
Futher on, there was a bit of karst landscape with an exposed area of rock. On this I spotted some lichen in spore which added a vivid splash of colour.
By now the rain was really getting quite nasty and the wind had also come up so I was getting really soaked. I started to think about bailing out since there was little point in walking for another 4 or 5 hours in this. But since I was in the middle of nowhere I still had another hour or two to get to somewhere that I could get collected.
So I struggled across the exposed moorland until I came to a track which started bring me down towards more sheltered ground. I quickly joined up with the Kilronan loop by which time I was recovering ground I’d done before.
Down by the bridge where I had lunch on another walk I came across this rather pretty purple bluebell and there were a few more along the bank here. At this point it really started bucketing rain and I decided to give up on my day’s goal and just head for Ballyfarnon. I’m not going to bother with a detailed description of the remaining 4 kilometres of road walk as I’ve done it twice before.
It wasn’t the most successful day’s walking but I still managed almost 25 kilometres and a reasonable amount of ascent so it wasn’t too bad. All that remains of the Miners’ way is about 25 km of relatively accessible route between Ballyfarnon and Boyle so I’ll have to return another day.
After having been a bit lazy the last time I was working from home, I went out into the rain for a lunchtime loop. It was a bit wet for most of the walk to be able to use the camera. All I managed to take in the line of photographs was this broken blackbird’s egg.
Anyway, we got a walk in despite the weather so that must be a good thing.
For a bit of a change we went over to Derrycassin woods which is a nice spot in north Longford. The weather was reasonable enough although it was threatening to rain.
The big feature here at the moment is the bluebells which are a couple of weeks ahead of the Ardagh woods ones for some reason.
We had a grand walk – Derrycassin is very easy going with good gravel paths for the most paths and the rest of the paths are on dry spots so you don’t stand any real risk of getting wet or muddy. The bluebells aren’t quite peaking yet – they’ll be another week or so.