Western Ocean Weekends

I’m delighted to announce our next three-day walking events in Mayo’s magnificent North West corner.

Saturday to Monday, July 18 to 20.

Friday to Sunday, August 14 to 16.

Iniskea South Island

Iniskea South Island

Day One combines 5 hours in the huge Sheskin Forest and bog complex, with a further 2 1/2 hours on a spectacular cliff-top walk along the Atlantic Coast.

Day Two brings us out to the uninhabited Iniskea Islands, 2 km out in the Atlantic.

Day Three brings us to the gentle hilltops, beaches and sand dunes of the remote Mullet Peninsula. Beautiful views in all directions.

Accommodation is in local guesthouses on The Mullet. The weekend includes 2 x B&B, 2 x dinner, 3 x packed lunches, full guiding throughout and the boat out to the island on Day Two.

As always, do come with good hiking boots (preferably waterproof) and wet gear. This is Mayo. Most of all, come with a love of the outdoors and its inhabitants that we will observe, but not disturb.

If you would like to join our small group for this Western Ocean Weekend, call us on 094 – 9027797, or e-mail info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.

More Leave No Trace Events

I’m delighted to announce the following dates and venues for more small scale Leave No Trace (LNT) Awareness training workshops.

Thursday, July 2 – Westport.

Thursday, July 9 – Athleague.

Tuesday, July 14 – Letterfrack.

Thursday, July 16 – Boyle.

Tuesday, July 21 – Gort.

Thursday, July 23 – Benwiskin.

All awareness training events will be held outdoors, with an element of indoors only if the weather isn’t so good. Even if the weather isn’t so good, there will still be outdoors time involved, so do come prepared.

Most of all, come prepared for some fun in the great Irish outdoors. You will learn about the Seven Principles of the LNT outdoors ethics programme and leave with your LNT Awareness Certificate.

For more info and to book your place at a venu close to you, call me on 086 – 8318748 , or email info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.

The Garden of Ireland

On Monday of this week, I was lucky enough to find myself in Wicklow – a rare trip across the country to The Garden of Ireland.

 

U-nail studded railway sleeper boardwalk at The Wicklow Gap

U-nail studded railway sleeper boardwalk at The Wicklow Gap

Over the Wicklow Gap I went, down through Laragh, with its wonderful broadleaf and well-spaced conifer forests and on towards Glenealy, to the beautiful and serene organic farm at Carraig Dúlra.

On their plot up on the hill, with impressive Red Kites soaring overhead, Mike and Suzie Cahn deliver organic farming training, specialising in how to grow fruit and vegetables. Indeed, my friend Tina Pommer, from Leitrim, will be giving a talk and walk on mushrooms over there sometime this coming autumn.

 

Coniferous forest with good ground vegetation at Laragh

Coniferous forest with good ground vegetation at Laragh

I was there to deliver an awareness course in Leave No Trace. I had a lovely day and would really recommend getting up to Carraig Dúlra, taking a practical, educational and, above all, interesting course in the outdoors of whichever type you prefer yourself. Mike and Suzie are excellent hosts, so you’ll have a great day.

 

 

 

Suzie talks about vegetable growing, Carraig Dúlra, Glenealy

Suzie talks about vegetable growing, Carraig Dúlra, Glenealy

Visit Carraig Dúlra’s website here.

Visit Leave No Trace Ireland here.

Some Places to Visit in Ireland’s West

If you’re living in or visiting Ireland’s West, you might like to consider some of these places for a nice walk or some fun out with the family :

1. Moore Hall, near Carnacon, south County Mayo.

Ruined “big house” plus surrounding forests – much of it planted conifers, but also quite a bit of native broadleaves. Nice walks around Lough Carra.

2. Lough Key Forest Park, near Boyle, north Co. Roscommon.

Okay, there’s the paying part, but there is also loads to do without parting with your cash. Kilometres of forest walks, most of it through native and non-native broadleaves, parts also through conifers. Lakeside walks. Feed the swans and ducks. Look at the passing cruisers, etc.

3. The Suck Valley Way, Athleague, south Co. Roscommon.

Head for the lovely Visitor Centre in a former church. Walk along the bank of the River Suck as far as Castlestrange and its La Tene Stone. If you’re up to it, continue to the quaint and pretty riverside village of Castlecoote.

4. Mountbellew Demesne, Mountbellew, north Co. Galway.

Very large and dense conifer plantation has good walks. See its old forge. If you’re lucky, you might spot some deer, or test your skills in finding their footprints.

5. Arigna Mining Experience, near Drumshanbo, mid Co. Leitrim.

Perhaps Ireland’s best paying tourist attraction (in my humble opinion). Visit the old coal mine, guided by the actual miners themselves. If I remember correctly, mining ceased circa 1990 and the guys themselves now bring visitors around. When they’ve retired in the future, I doubt if the experience will ever be the same, so get there soon.

6. Old Head Wood, beyond Westport, west Co. Mayo.

Forget the beach (as pleasant as it is). Walk beyond the beach and discover the amazing, though small, Old Head Wood. Walk through it at a slow pace and take in this tiny piece of old Atlantic Wood. Then exit the far side and walk along the cliff top fields, until you get a clear view of the great Atlantic Ocean and Clare Island in front of you. Spot the Cormorants, Seals, Dolphins, etc. Take note of the poor trees, bent over at 90 degrees eastwards from the fierce and unrelenting Atlantic winds.

Simple Steps to Sustainability 2

Today, I want to look at three more areas, where you can improve the sustainability of your tourism enterprise or activities. Again, I’m trying to stick to basic and easy to implement steps. Today’s topics are :

1. Camping.

2. Lighting.

3. Composting.

Camping –

When adventuring outdoors, in areas of low tourism numbers and where there is no established campsite, try to follow these guidelines. First, do try to set up your tent in a spot where somebody already has done so. Why ? Because that area has already been somewhat ‘damaged’, perhaps with a burnt out spot where a fire had been lit. By using the same spot, you will not cause further unwanted damage to other areas which have remained pretty much pristine. If there is no such place and you simply cannot see any remains of previous campsites (lucky you !) then choose a place where the ground is durable, or tough and can take the pitching of your tent, without being impacted upon.

Try to light your fire by using a fire blanket covered in loose stones or pebbles some 10 cm deep, on top of which you then place your sticks. Avoid burning fires straight on the ground. Do not break branches from living trees and vegetation. Collect drift wood, twigs and dead leaves from the environment around you. Be very careful with fires.

Lighting –

LED bulbs use much less energy.

LED bulbs use much less energy.

Replace used standard bulbs with either CFL or, preferably, LED low-energy alternatives.

Your tourism establishment possibly burns quite a number of bulbs during the season. The higher cost per unit of these low-energy bulbs is quickly recovered by their much lower energy consumption when in use. One word of warning though : I do not recommend you change to either of these types of bulb for the work area in your kitchen. You need the superior bright light of standard bulbs to cut those carrots, rather than your fingers. But everywhere else, make that switch.

Composting –

Composting is not only a sustainable way of treating your non-cooked food waste – it is also fun.

Composting is great for your vegetable garden.

Composting is great for your vegetable garden.

Place your composter in partial sun. Too much sun makes the compost too dry and slow to deteriorate, while too little also slows down the process. Mix your ‘browns’ with your ‘greens’. Examples of browns would be shredded newspapers, egg boxes, dead leaves, bits of cardboard, etc. Use a good strong stick to mix up the compost regularly (I use a broken hurl). Do throw in things like avocado skins, egg shells and citrus fruit peels, but know they won’t break down entirely or as quickly as your regular apple cores, broccoli bits, tomato parts and so on.

If you build your own compost heap, by using pallets, then be sure to cover the heap with an old carpet, to keep it warm, as well as some black plastic , to keep it dry.

Simple Steps to Sustainability 1

Over the summer months, I’m going to attempt to give you some really quite simple steps to improve the sustainability of your tourism activities, whether you are a provider or a tourist.

Today, I will look at the following basic elements of your tour, business or home :

1. Electricity.

2. Walks.

3. Picnics.

Electricity –

Airtricity

Airtricity

Change from the ESB to Airtricity. Short and sweet. It’s that simple. Avoid Bord Gais. Both major electricity suppliers are burning pretty much always fossil fuels. Support Airtricity in its wind generated power. Call them and switch. It’s simple and it’s cheaper.

 

Walks –

Come walking with Tourism Pure

Come walking with Tourism Pure

Follow this simple rule. When you are out walking in the beautiful Irish countryside (or anywhere overseas for that matter), stick to the path, where there is one. This avoids plant damage and habitat loss. Look at it this way : where there is already damage, don’t add to it. However, where there is no path and you really need to get from A to B (like on a mountain) then do not all walk on the same line. Rather, spread out on eachother’s sides. That way, your impact is small and no path is created. Now you are walking through the landscape as would a herd of animals. Limited damage and no trace afterwards.

Picnics –

The easiest way to avoid dropping litter in the countryside is to not bring any in in the first place. When preparing a picnic for the family or group of walkers, remove the packaging before you leave the house. Use sturdy, re-usable, well sealed containers. Have the biscuits in one; the sandwiches in another. No packaging means no packaging to be carelessly dropped along the way. Re-use the same containers next time.

Tourism and Travel

“We stopped in Fiji, Wellington, Sydney, Perth, etc., etc.”

International tourism now makes up around 30% of all international services trade and is valued at some $ 900 billion p.a. People do love to tell others where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. Here in Ireland, you’re just a bit passé if you haven’t been to either New Zealand or Australia. You’re most definitely of a different era if you haven’t had a few beers in Manhattan.

Almost by definition, you have to travel quite a distance to be a tourist – or at least one with a certain coolness. It’s not by accident that Ryanair has developed into Europe’s largest airline. “Give it to them and they will come” might be their motto. Put on the routes and they will be filled.

But therein lies a conundrum for so-called ecotourism and sustainable tourism.

I’ve mentioned this before and I keep coming back to it in my own head. You only have to look at The Galapagos story. If tourists travel, damage will follow. Of that, there can be no doubt. Clearly, if tourists do not travel to areas of pristine beauty, then the pristine beauty stands a much better chance of survival.

Should tourism be limited to places which have already suffered its consequences ?

Bialowieza National Park in Poland famously boasts its Strict Reserve, into which tourists may only enter with a registered guide. But enter they may.

There are truly wonderful initiatives out there, such as Leave No Trace, of which I am a trainer, trying to limit peoples’ impacts. But by times, I have to ask myself if the best way of leaving no trace would not simply be to stay out altogether.

On the other hand, I know that this is purely theoretical. The reality is that man has spread his tentacles all over the planet. Even into Antarctica. We travel to a given place ‘because it’s there’. Siberia will soon realise this and become a major nature and adventure tourism destination.

So, given that we will continue to travel, I guess we might as well try to do so in a reasonable fashion that doesn’t damage the environment as much as other forms of tourism.

Maybe we don’t need to pollute an area’s water table. Maybe we don’t need to exploit all the local workers with miserable wages and poor working conditions. Maybe we don’t need to force our western culture upon a destination. Maybe we don’t need to take that high powered motor boat out on the lovely lake. Maybe we don’t need to throw our litter around. Maybe we don’t need a sex slave. Maybe we don’t need to stay in a five star hotel cossetted away from the local life brimming outside the gated property.

So ecotourism (or at least sustainable tourism) is probably, on the balance of it, a positive notion. We will travel, so let’s make an effort at least. But unless its promoters and service providers are completely serious and authentic about reducing their impacts on the environment, it might just be make-believe for those of us who feel the need to tick the boxes for Perth, Windhoek and so on.