I didn’t take a lot of pictures on this trip and as it was a family day out for the most part, they are family photos. But we had a good day out in the Marble Arch caves and the hills above them. We ended up doing three sections of walk over the day. To start with, we took a walk up the Ulster way towards Cuilcagh mountain.
This is a walk I’ve done before and everyone enjoyed themselves. After that, we headed into the Marble Arch caves for the tour. This is quite a walk in itself as there are a couple of kilometres of the cave in the tour.
Finally, we headed to the Cladagh Gorge to hike up to the marble arch. This was a spectacular walk along a really nice path and the arch itself was well worth the walk. We managed about 12 km for the day.
I wanted to get a medium length walk so as to avoid going a whole month between long walks so the branch was an ideal length for me. I set off quite late in the day at about 11:30 but this wasn’t an issue as it is only a bit over three hours of a walk.
I decided to take the younger of our two dogs with me as she was well able for it. It is mandatory to use a lead on the canal and as there are several road crossings, it would probably be unwise not to.
I made good time along the section through the outskirts of Longford town and was crossing the N63 after about half an hour. At this point, it gets a lot wilder with willow trees growing in the line.
I kept travelling at a reasonable pace making a little over 5 km per hour. We kept this up until we got to the main line which is a bit of 8 km into the walk. I took a short break here and had a snack before pushing on.
I stopped to talk to a couple of kayakers on the way towards Killashee. Indeed, the guy there doing kayak hire was doing a roaring trade and there were no less than 5 boats out on the canal.
The elderberries are close to being ready. You really need to be quick if you want to pick these as the birds tend to get them very quickly.
It was all go on the bog section near Clondra and there were a lot of people working there despite it being a Sunday. I guess you take your dry days when you get them at this time of year.
I made it into Clondra after about 3 hours and 15 minutes which isn’t bad for a 16.5 km walk. I’ve posted this walk as being slightly longer before but my new phone’s GPS is giving me a bit less credit so I’ll still with what it told me.
We decided to head over to north Longford for a bit of a change and do a bog walk over there. This is a national looped trail and is quite a nice bit of a walk with benches and picnic tables to take a rest.
We had a nice family walk even if our pace was a little slow. There is still a lot of turf cutting going on here and while there wasn’t anyone out on the bog due to the damp weather, we were passed by a couple of tractors.
I’ve stopped feeling the need to blog about every one of my local forest walks, so this is really just a quick note to record that I did 4 walks in the forest over a two week period.
The weather has been fairly mixed. We’ve had a couple of really nice days for walking and the usual run of wet weather mixed in with that. The mushrooms are back so I’ll have to get posting a few pics of them over the next few weeks.
After quite an extended break from long walks, I finally managed to get out for a walk over the weekend. As it was on short notice, I just did a canal walk into Mullingar on a route I’ve done four times now. I started out from Fowlard’s bridge at about 8:30 and set off towards Abbeyshrule.
It was a fine sunny morning but it really was quite windy and the weather had a general air of unreliability about it. Still, it was pleasant enough going even if the grass had a heavy dew on it which saturated my boots quite quickly. A little dampness made it through the GoreTex but nothing too bad.
I arrived into Abbeyshrule after about an hour. There had been a helicopter crash in the village about a month earlier and it was really impressive how well they had cleared up.
From here it was a quick walk onto the Richmond aquaduct and on towards the really wild part around Bog bridge. This is possibly my favourite part of the entire canal and I had been quite alarmed to hear that they were putting down a proper path. But they have actually made a really good job and put the path down on the northern side of the canal and left the existing wild side alone.
I headed on towards Emper and took a coffee break at one of the locks there before pushing on to Ballinacarrigy. I nipped into a shop there to buy myself an ice-cream and kept going.
It was fairly easy going and the weather remained dry enough as I carried on. The wind was really starting to pick up. I had resolved to wait until Coolnahay for my lunch so was starting to get a bit tired. There was quite a bit of wildlife about.
As I got closer to Coolnahay I was starting to get quite tired after my morning’s walking. Somebody keeps a few donkeys on the far bank a few hundred metres out of Coolnahay so I was glad to see these guys.
After about 15 minutes stopped at Coolnahay, I got going again. It wasn’t long before I passed the ugly modern bridge which marks the half-way point between Coolnahay and Ballinea.
After another quick stop at Ballinea, I came across the old Mullingar to Athlone railway which is being converted into a greenway. Although it wasn’t technically open yet I heard voices on it and so nipped through a gap in the hedge onto a pristine new cycleway.
It wasn’t the best of walking surfaces but it was interesting to walk along the old railway. This used to be a double line so there was enough room to leave the greenway beside the existing track. I’m not sure why they left the track in place though as the sleepers are so rotted that it would need lifting and relaying anyway if it were ever to be used again.
I stopped for a little sit down on a platform after a bit as I was getting near to be my destination and I knew I’d have about half an hour to kill before my train was due.
This is still technically an open railway so somebody has hung a sign with a stop signal on it from an old signal post.
I arrived into Mullingar station after about 7 hours on the trail of just short of 34 km. It was a nice way to restart my long walks.
With the start of August, and most of my home projects finished, I’m hoping to get back into walking a bit more. I managed to get two weekend walks in a row to start the month off which is a promising walk.
On the first of these, I was on my own the the dogs and spotted two foxes right in the middle of the forest path. I very quickly fired off a picture but the dogs spooked them before I could manage to get a proper picture so this is the best I could manage.
We’re back into mushroom season again, and this is an interesting specimen that I hadn’t noticed yet. No sign of the Fly Agarics yet but they seem to wait until a little later in August normally. The mushrooms don’t terribly seem to have been affected by the lateness of everything else.
The birds have had most of bilberries by now but there are still a few about. These two were very tasty after I finished taking the picture. Bilberries were held in very high regard in ancient times – I can imagine their sweetness must have been a very intense flavour in the days before refined sugar.
Walking forests and trails in the midlands of Ireland