Pictures from Cong Lakes Walks

Here are some pictures from our lovely weekend of walking around the shores of Loughs Corrib and Mask last week. We were blessed with the weather, only being subjected to two showers. Both of them hit us when on the first walk and pretty much under trees, so their effect on morale was nil.

Please scroll down below the pictures for upcoming dates of these guided walking events.

Our next Cong Lakes Walks events take place on the following dates :

Thu June 10 thru Sun June 13.

Bank holiday weekend, Fri July 30 thru Mon August 2.

Mon August 9 thru Thu August 12.

Thu September 23 thru Sun September 26.

Thu October 14 thru Sun October 17

Coillte and Native Woods – Is It Possible ?

Coillte is the Irish state-owned commercial forestry management entity, controlling around 7% of the national territory. Almost all of the trees planted on the company’s estate are non-native conifers, including Sitka Spruce, Norway Spruce, Lodgepole Pine and others. Many of its sites in the West would be considered near ‘dead zones’ in terms of their very poor species diversity, both flora and fauna. We all know of sites where the sun does not penetrate to the monoculture plantation floor and where birdlife and mammal life is low in diversity.

In a remarkable move, however, Coillte became involved in an EU-Life Natura 2000 project back in 2006, with the aim of restoring small bits of its estate as priority native woodland habitats. This week, I attended the two-day conference, which closed this four-year, € 2.6 m project.

On the second day, attendees visited Clonbur Wood, on the Galway – Mayo border. Various Coillte personnel introduced us to the interesting aspects of the wood, which is associated with limestone pavement. Large scale removal of non-native trees has taken place and native species planted in their place. There is real hope that this site, of almost 300 ha, can return to being a wonderful, diverse native wood.

Native trees present include Ash, Hazel, Birch, with some Oak, Juniper and Yew. Animals present include fox, badger, pine marten, red squirrel, lesser horseshoe bat and otter.

As one part of my three- and five-day walking tours in Mayo, I bring small groups on to Coillte managed lands. In 2010, I will be adding this wonderful new amenity at Clonbur, where walkers can see first hand this impressive project to re-establish a native limestone pavement woodland in this part of the West of Ireland.

See here for information on Clonbur Wood.

For the EU website on the LIFE Project, see here.

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.

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.

Ecotourism Recommendations

Over the past number of years, I’ve had reason to visit these fabulous ecotourism spots. I’d have no hesitation in recommending them to you – if you recognise in yourself the type of person who constitutes their “target market”. Not everywhere might suit your tastes, but one of them surely will.

Ard Nahoo Health Farm * Eco Cabins * Yoga * Retreats

Ard Nahoo, Leitrim

Ard Nahoo, Leitrim

Visit and relax in Noeleen’s piece of heaven in Leitrim’s hillsides. I could go into the details, but, to be honest, there’s no need. Everything she does is positive and well thought out, yet calm and relaxed at the same time. If you like your yoga, health retreat, relaxation, but want to avoid the formulaic offer of today’s soulless, white-painted hotel spas and all that goes with them, drop in here.

The Gyreum Eco Hostel

The Gyreum, Sligo

The Gyreum, Sligo

More than slightly strange, peculiar and down right odd mound-shaped eco hostel, The Gyreum, run by Colum, is out on a hill in southern Sligo, overlooking Carrowkeel megalithic tombs. A great place to have some craic and chill in a style of accommodation you simply will not find anywhere else on this planet. If shared living is not for you, then look elsewhere.

Crann Óg Ecological Holidays and Classes

Crann Óg, Galway

Crann Óg, Galway

Flor and Marion run a beautifully located rural yoga space, eco accommodation and organic garden. With a back drop of wonderful native woodland, this place is really special. The amount of work that has been put in is surpassed perhaps only by Flor’s ability to entertain and tell you all you want to know about nature, spirituality and environmental education.

 

Léim Siar Bed & Breakfast, Self Catering

Léim Siar, Mayo

Léim Siar, Mayo

Hannah and Gerry’s B&B and self catering apartment are situated at the very tip of Mayo’s awesome Mullet Peninsula, beyond Belmullet town. Hannah is dedicated to moving her place towards ecotourism. She already has solar panels and geothermal heating in her lovely modern house. If it’s a spectacular ocean setting you’re looking for, then take the long drive to Léim Siar. When you get there, you’ll know it’s next stop America.